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Delta-Lawyer, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3546
Experience:  10 years practicing IP law and general litigation
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35 years ago we paid to have city water. We are one mile from

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35 years ago we paid to have city water. We are one mile from the nearest junction water main. So at that time it cost $65,000. We put in a 6-inch main and my normal bills for two months haven't exceed $100. In July I received a bill for $850 and called and asked them to investigate where the water was going as I maintained the same usage as before and I have been alone here for five years since my divorce. In September my water climbed to $4100 and they said they didn't have the means to help me find the problem of wasted water. Subsequently I hired plumbers who found the problem immediately. The meter is in a man hole pit and when the water company read the meter they drove past and used an electronic gun to read it. The plumber shut off my water and opened the man hole and found that it had never been opened and was full of clean, clear water. Just below the meter was a broken pipe. Now, that is 3/10 of a mile from my house, right by the road, just on my side of the meter. I've paid $3,000 of this bill and still have left to pay over $2000. This is not water I used and during the times I begged them to help me investigate, only once an employee came out and turned a lever on a valve near my well (used for lawn watering). Subsequent to that the plumbers worked two days at $150/hr. to fix the broken pipe. I still haven't gotten that bill. They promised to give me a full report on what they found and also their opinion in the matter. Today, the water company called to tell me that, after 35 years, they discovered that my water line requires a "minimum" $900 every two months for using it. I am not paying another penny until I get some answers and they forgive the $900 and the rest of the current bill. Do I have a chance with using a litigator in small claims court against the utility? I want my money back or at least forgiveness for the remaining bill. And, why should I have to pay a minimum $900 fee if after all these years I haven't been required to? Also, I begged them to help me find the problem and they told me they couldn't read that meter more than once a month. Please HELP me!

I hope this message finds you well, present circumstances excluded. As a matter of course and law based upon equity, I think that you have a really reasonable chance at preventing these charges and being able to forgo the existing bill relative to the cities incompetence.

The first step to prevent assessment of late fees on the outstanding bill would be to file a temporary restraining order against the city's bill. (TRO). You would need an attorney to do this in my professional opinion, but the restraining order would allow you to have a better plan of action against the city after the full assessment from the plumbers. The basis of the TRO would be the irreparable harm that you would receive, monetarily, from have to pay an unjust bill. Simple because you are on city water does not mean that they as the city are alleviated from their common duties to you. You have paid for the service and they are obligated to maintain and take note of what is going on with the infrastructure...especially after you request help. Their excuse is no excuse at all, merely an admission of incompetence.

After filing the TRO, you can then seek permanent injunctive relief which would be directed towards not have to pay the back billing to the city and preventing the city from infringing upon you constitutional rights to equal protection. You are being treated unfairly in view of other residents by a governmental entity, and therefore you equal protection rights have been violated. As such, in addition to the permanent injunction, you may be able to receive court costs and attorney fees.

You should not be forced to pay the $900 charge bi-monthly. The injunction would be designed to prevent that and make your payments in line with what they have always been.

In short, you need to seek a temporary restraining order against the city for the bill that is currently due. When this is granted you need to seek a permanent injunction against the city preventing them from ever collecting on the bill, perhaps repaying you and also preventing you from having to pay an exorbitant amount for the bill going forward.

Let me know if you have any additional questions or comments.

Best wishes going forward!
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