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Legal bills mount to $45K as city battles homeowner’s $11K insurance claim

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By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — City leaders on Tuesday will meet in closed session to confer with attorneys battling a lawsuit by a homeowner trying to collect on a $11,353.54 insurance claim.

According to City Attorney Anne Jacobson, the city has so far spent $45,015.56 defending the claim, a number that could rise significantly as the case heads to trial. The city has hired an outside attorney, Daniel Varline, of Vavczyk & Varline, LLC, to handle the case.

Brent Zocher says his 10th Avenue home, valued at about $77,900, was badly damaged after a storm sewer dumped more than two feet of water on his property during an August 2014 storm.

Zocher initially filed his claim with the city on Sept. 4, 2014, according to city documents, asking to be reimbursed for cleanup expenses. That claim was denied on Nov. 18, 2014. Now, Zocher is asking the city to pay for the full value of his home, plus court costs and other fees.

Zocher outlines the reasons for his claim in court filings, alleging that knee-deep standing water, a direct result of the city’s negligence, left him with a home that he is now unable to sell.

According to the complaint, the area surrounding Zocher’s home underwent multiple zoning changes and developments after the house was built in the 1940s. Zocher claims those changes ultimately caused his property to become part of the city’s storm water sewer system and created a watershed tributary that channels stormwater through Zocher’s land.

Zocher alleges the city was “well aware” of potential effects of zoning and development on the land prior to the September 2014 storm because stormwater had channeled twice before onto the property.

To date, members of the city council have met three times in closed session to discuss potential settlements with Zocher, in September 2015, December 2015, and in August 2016. So far, no agreement has been reached.
In April, Judge Jill Falstad denied the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and a five-day jury trial is set for August.

4 Comments

  1. Best of luck to you, Brent! Unfortunately, those fools on the council won’t be forced to pay your win/settlement (or the current legal bill) out of their own over inflated wages, but I still sincerely hope you win.

  2. Like I or not, there is a certain amount of logic involved in fighting Brent’s claim. It called precedent. I believe that Brent brought his suit because he feels thst work done by the city caused his basement to flood during a certain rain storm. That may or not be the case.

    So let’s say that the city just pays his claim when it initially submitted. Are they now to pay every other claim submitted by any other individual when their basement floods, even though the city may be blameless?

    Keep in mind that should Brent prevail he may well be paid with your tax money.

    • You’re correct, Stan in which if Brent wins, we the taxpayer will foot the bill. BUT, I’d rather pay for his losses because of (once again) inept city management than the MILLIONS of our tax dollars going to empty buildings, land for a well (that one REALLY kills me), or the countless other frivolous pet projects the mental midgets come up with.
      Furthermore, before any city would pay a claim like that, I’m sure they’d make sure it was either valid and/or NOT SPEND THREE TIMES THE ORIGINAL CLAIM AMOUNT ON LEGAL FEES! Let’s face it, if ANY private business was run by these collective bunch of dolts, they’d have filed Chapter 11 a long time ago, but we’re SO lucky to be stuck with them. SMH.

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