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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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I own a house in St. Paul MN. There is a problem in the sewer

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I own a house in St. Paul MN. There is a problem in the sewer pipe line in the middle of the street, in the part of the pipe that is connecting to the main line. The problem is located outside my property, but the City of St. Paul is claiming that they repair only the mainline, and the the entire pipe, even the part that is in public area, is the responsibility of the homeowner.
The city sewer official that I talked to on the phone quoted this paragraph to me when I demanded to see where does it say that the homeowner is responsible to repair outside his property:

"Private Sewer Connection: A private sewer connection extends from the foundation or upstream end within the private property to and including its connection to the public sewer or other outlet. It is also known as a house sewer connection, sewer lateral or sewer service connection." (page 3)

The definition in the same document to Public Sewer: "A sanitary or storm sewer in which all owners of abutting properties have equal rights to and which is owned and controlled by the City of St. Paul. A public sewer generally has more than one private service connected to it." (page 3)

Quotes taken from this document:
City of St. Paul Department of Public Works Standard Specifications for Constructing and Repairing Private Sewer Connections" September 20, 2012

Can be found on line:

My question:The document says that my responsibility as a homeowner is to the line that starts at my foundation and goes to the CONNECTION TO THE PUBLIC SEWER. My interpretation is that any part of the sewer system that is not in my property is part of the PUBLIC SEWER. The city claims that the pipes outside my property are my responsibility because the PUBLIC SEWER is only the mainline.
Can I have a case against the city, in demanding that they pay for repairing the problem in the pipe outside my property? If so, how do I go about it?

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX [email protected]
Thank you for your question, Michal.

Have you discussed your interpretation of the wording as yet with local attorneys? Are you seeking an answer only on how to file suit, or are you asking if your interpretation of the wording is accurate under state law?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am asking if my interpretation in correct and if it is correct who can file a suit for me?

Thank you for your follow-up.

Based on the definition that you were quoted, your interpretation does not appear to be correct. The language in the definition describes a private sewer as anything extending from the main sewer pipe, which likewise includes a sewer ipe that is underneath on public and city property. Such a piper is typically the responsibility of the parties to whom that connection is made, so if it includes 4 homes, then 4 owners are jointly responsible for repairs. You can potentially retain a real estate and administrative law attorney to research this further for you and see if any local cases exist that would claim or show that the city would be responsible, but going solely on what you were provided, the city is correct to claim that they have no liability. Consequently, until and if you can find contrary law, you would have no basis to file (I have searched here for cases that may be contrary to code you were given and have not found anything that would invalidate the definition you were provided).

Good luck.

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