JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A court battle over sewer lines may cost the town of Johnston millions of dollars.
Last week, a jury awarded the Park Plaza Apartments $1.2 million after they claimed the town tied municipal sewer lines into their private sewer line. Eric Brainsky, an attorney for the complex, said this has wreaked havoc on their sewage since the 1980s.
The complex is made up of 62 apartments along the Pocasset River. Brainsky said in the ’80s, unbeknownst to the complex’s developer, the town tied a sewer line from more than 70 homes from the other side of the river into the complex’s private line.
“It was dumping roughly four times the amount of sewage into our pipe,” Brainsky said.
The complex then had to upgrade the pump and make countless repairs because of the sewage overflow, according to Brainsky.
“We started having severe functional issues with a lot of repairs,” Brainsky added. “On a daily basis, sewage backed up into the apartments.”
On Friday, a jury sided with the apartment complex, awarding them $1.2 million. But Brainsky said with interest, it could be closer to $6 million.
Eyewitness News reached out to Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena but he said he can’t comment on the litigation.
The town can still appeal the ruling to the Rhode Island Supreme Court but Brainsky said the judgment sent a message.
“If you’re going to break the law or break the rules you need to take responsibility for your actions,” he said. “You can’t take advantage of private property owners and private people simply because of you’re a municipality.”
The town sewer line is no longer tied to the Park Plaza Apartment line. In 2018, the town used HUD funding to create new sewer pump stations on the other side of the river.