Methodist Church sues city of Okemah for creating a stinky mess
By R.L. Thompson
A lawsuit was filed in the District Court of Okfuskee County by St. Paul’s United Methodist Church against the city of Okemah on Monday, September 25.
The plaintiffs in the case are the Reverend Jessica Higgins, Reverend of the property; Brent Higgins, Secretary of the property; Karie Neely, Church chairperson of the property; Terrell Dixon, Custodian of the property and St. Paul’s Methodist Church, a business located in Okfuskee County at 202 North 3rd street in Okemah.
Both the city of Okemah and the Okemah Utility Authority are listed as defendants in this case. They are listed as the owners and operators of the sewer system within the boundaries of the municipality. The lawsuit filed states the city of Okemah and the Utility Authority were responsible for the maintenance, repair and operation of the sewer system, part of which is located on the Plaintiff’s real property.
According to court documents, on or about May 24, 2022, the property located at 202 North 3rd street was flooded with raw sewage creating a nuisance and causing substantial property damage.
The church served the both the city of Okemah and the Okemah Utilities Authority with a Notice of Tort Claim and Amended Notice of Tort Claim for the sewer back-up event and both the city, and the utility authority denied the claim on about July 14, 2023.
The church affirms in the lawsuit that the sewer system that is maintained and operated constitutes a continuing and ongoing nuisance, both private and public.
It is stated the city of Okemah and the Okemah Utility Authority have a duty to operate the City’s sewage system in a manner so not to constitute a nuisance to the general public and that their actions or inaction failed to uphold the requisite duty which amounts to a nuisance, both temporary and permanent in nature.
The Church and other listed plaintiffs are seeking to restore the land, improvements to the property from the temporary damages; to restore the land from permanent damage, including diminution in value to the land, improvements and personal property; for annoyance, inconvenience, and discomfort resulting from the city of Okemah and Okemah Utility Authority creation of a nuisance and for monetary amounts spent and amounts that will be spent in the future in testing, investigating to determine the nature and extent of damage caused by the city of Okemah and the Okemah Utility Authority’s creation of a nuisance.
It is articulate in the lawsuit that the city and the utility authority should have known through actual and/or constructive knowledge that the failure to uphold their duty to Church and the list plaintiffs would result in nuisance and accompanying damages.
The Church and other plaintiffs are seeking abatement and also an amount in excess of $75,000.
In the second cause of action, the lawsuit states that the city of Okemah and the Okemah Utility Authority breached their duty in maintaining and operating the sewer system and they are negligent in the work undertaken on the sewer system and the continued negligent operation of the sewer system.
The filed document also lists an attorney lien claimed and that a jury trial is demanded.