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  • Last modified 76 days ago (Feb. 8, 2017)

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Not negligent, city pays anyways

Staff writer

Hillsboro City Council was feeling charitable Tuesday, bucking its city administrator Larry Paine and shelling out $3,800 dollars from its own coffers for a damage claim its insurance company had denied

Randy Hagen appeared at the last city council meeting seeking $3,800 for water damage to his basement allegedly caused when the city was cleaning sewers in his neighborhood.

The city’s insurer denied the claim, saying the cleaning equipment was operated properly and therefore the city was not negligent and was not liable for the damage. Council members tabled the matter, instructing city administrator Larry Paine to seek more information.

Paine came to Tuesday’s meeting with an answer and a recommendation.

Paine said after talking with the insurance adjuster once more, the reason the claim was denied came down to one key element.

“That Joe Alverez operated the sewer jetter within the specifications and under the industry standards for the type of the work that he did,” Paine said. “Because of that, there is no negligence on our part, so the claim was denied. So my recommendation to (the council) is that the request be denied.”

Hagen responded to Paine, asking how there was no negligence if he did not receive a yellow slip on his doorknob that warns residents of upcoming sewer cleaning and tips on how to keep water from backing up into a home.

“That is not a required element to be done,” Paine responded. “There’s not a statute that says we have to do those sorts of things. That is basically a recommended sort of thing.”

“I think that when we kind of get off here is when we start talking about negligence,” Mayor Delores Dalke added. “I think that word alone is mean or like you’re doing it out of spite and I don’t think we are saying anyone was negligent.”

Dalke also said that there previously have been people wanting to claim for greater damages after incidents like this.

“I also know there are some people who spend $35,000 on things like this,” Dalke said. “Randy didn’t do that. He’s not trying to get the latest décor and all of those kinds of things. The fact that he spent less than $10,000 speaks a lot for him, that he’s not asking for more.”

Dalke also mentioned her own water damage story, and showed empathy toward Hagen.

“Having had my own sewer back up one time, I know what a mess it is and I feel sorry for Randy because I was there and I had to put up with it,” Dalke said. “Luckily we were able to clean ours up.”

Both McCarty and Loewen said they were disappointed the insurance company would not cover it.

Councilman Bob Watson then made a motion for the council to pay the $3,800 to Hagen “as a token of good will, without admitting any negligence.”

“I appreciate it,” Hagen said. “I know Larry and I have had discussions over it and exchanged some things, but it never really got what I would call heated. I appreciate all the effort he put into it, too, and I want you to know that it keeps my faith in Hillsboro and the people who run it.”

Last modified Feb. 8, 2017

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