First it was the dog in the emergency room. Then it was the exploding toilets.
Liz and Irv Cross of Roseville twice have felt victimized by the city. They say they’ve twice challenged the city’s refusal to pay for damages they say it caused, and twice prevailed.
But they’re not satisfied.
“What bothers me the most is that they didn’t do what needed to be done right from the beginning,” Liz Cross lamented.
The dog’s singed paws were a piffling issue, money-wise at least, compared to the ruination of the inside of her home, she added. But it was the principle of the thing.
The latest and costliest episode occurred on May 16, the couple said, when city work on sewer lines caused two first-floor toilets to spurt water as high as the ceiling, and one upstairs to overflow.
The next day, a private firm recommended by city officials “tore our house apart,” the couple later complained in a letter that went to the mayor, the governor and everyone on down.
They put the damage to carpets, wallpaper and the like at $21,000, of which $10,000 was covered by insurance. They appealed to the city to cover the rest, but city officials offered less than half that.
One option was the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, which covers Roseville. But a claims adjuster wrote them in July to say the city had acted reasonably, so there was no basis for coverage.
“Normal people might just say, ‘Gee whiz!’ and go on,” Liz Cross said. “But this is the second time I’ve done something like this with the city of Roseville.”
The first time, she said, she was walking the dog with a “whole bunch of road construction people watching us walk, and my dog stepped in hot sealant; there were no signs, no one warned us it was boiling hot, and the dog ended up in the emergency room and I had a $250 bill. The city just paid that one, it was no big deal.”
But $11,000 was a big deal. She contacted media outlets, at least a couple of which began making inquiries. On Aug. 19, city spokesman Garry Bowman e-mailed the Star Tribune to say: “We are currently investigating things on our end,” adding: “City policy covering situations like that described limit cleanup costs to $5,000. The policy does not include replacement of damaged items such as carpet and furniture.”
Even so, he said, they were reviewing the situation and hoped to know more shortly.
Weeks passed. Asked this month where things stood, Bowman said only that “the situation [has] been resolved to the satisfaction of the homeowner.” Asked for details, he replied, via e-mail, “I don’t have much to add.”
Liz Cross did. She reported that Roseville had covered the couple for all the actual damages, though not the laundry list of angry demands such as the cost of heavy-duty fans running 24 hours a day for three days to dry everything out. She’s sure that media interest made a difference.
The most aggravating part, she said, was the fact that the city official who checked out the damage in the first place assured them Roseville would pick up the tab.
Said Liz: “They told us to do what we did, and then said, ‘Too bad!’ ”
On Thursday, Roseville City Manager Pat Trudgeon said of the settlement:
“We made the decision [to reimburse] after conducting a thorough review of the matter and how things were initially handled. The review discovered that the city could have done a better job following procedure and communicating the city’s backup assistance cleanup policy to the Crosses. In the end it was determined that providing reimbursement was the right thing to do in this case.”