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February 22nd, 2006 Carson K. Smith | Rogue of the Week
 

City of Portland's Risk Management Office

     
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Forgive Karen Morrison if she thinks the City of Portland's Risk Management Office has treated her like crap.

But check out Morrison's tale of utilities.

Last Oct. 2, just after 10 pm, the city sent workers to a sewage backup call from a homeowner a block away from Morrison's house in outer Southeast.

The crew, in a process city officials say happens "dozens of times per week," went through a manhole to dislodge the blockage. Karen's 25-year old son, Michael DeBord, said the workers asked him when he approached, "You don't have a basement, do you?"

That question smelled bad to DeBord, who ran down his mom's stairs and whiffed, before he saw, sewage coming out of the toilet. He took a few items upstairs and tried to cover the damage with a comforter in what he likened to a horror movie with "the toilet lid flapping up and down."

Karen Morrison ended up filing a $19,776.08 claim with the city for cleanup and damage to her furnished basement, which has hardwood floors.

Then she got a letter Dec. 27 from city Senior Risk Specialist Randy Stenquist explaining there was "nothing that crews could have done differently." Stenquist's letter called the backup a "relatively small amount" and "an unanticipated and unavoidable consequence of the City's efforts to provide relief to another nearby property owner."

Though saying the City was not liable, Stenquist enclosed what he termed "a goodwill gesture": a check for $2,286.08. That's the amount to cover Morrison's emergency cleanup.

But Morrison didn't accept the check because she was still out $17,490 to restore the basement's hardwoods and carpet.

"It wasn't my sewer,'' Morrison said. "It wasn't my fault. But now I'm out.''

Her attorney, Andrew McStay, says he will file a lawsuit against this City this week.

 
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