Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cleveland Negligently Boards Up Local Man's Home; Leaves Victim With Unaffordable Repairs Costing Thousand$; City Says It's Not Liable To Undo Mess

In Cleveland, Ohio, WKYC-TV Channel 3 reports:

  • Steven Saric has lived in his home on Vineyard Avenue for seven years. One morning last July, he pulled into his driveway to find nails in his windows, his gutters stripped from the sides and his doors boarded up.

  • The City of Cleveland received a complaint that a door was swaying open and grass was overgrown. Saric is paid up on taxes and was working to make improvements to the property, he says. When a city inspector went out to look, he deemed the home vacant and a demolition company was hired to board it up.

  • Building and Housing Director Ed Rybka says to stay atop of the foreclosure crisis, the city boards up thousands of vacant homes for security reasons. The boards hammered into Saric's home were a mistake, Rybka said. "To respond to a report that a property is open and vacant -- a danger, an attractive nuisance for kids or others -- we take that very seriously," Rybka said. "In this case our inspector went out, but didn't come to the proper conclusion."

  • Saric says the damage has cost him thousands of dollars and he can not afford the repairs. "A mistake was made. I'm not at fault. This has ruined my life for seven months already. Who is liable?" Saric said.

  • Not the City of Cleveland. Interim Law Director Barbara Langhenry says that because the boarding up of structures is a "governmental function," the city is immune from liability. Saric's only option at this point is to appeal to the Moral Claims Commission.

  • The commission meets three times a year and hears claims that they, by law, are not liable for. The commission includes the mayor, city council leaders and the law director. If the Commission deems the claim valid, the citizen will be reimbursed. Even if his claim is approved, it could still be a few months before Saric is reimbursed.

Source: Cleveland: City mistakenly boards up man's home.

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