HOUSTON -- An 80-year-old woman says she’s stuck with nearly $3,800 worth of property damage after she claims a city of Houston worker made a big mistake.
It happened back in December 2013.
Delphia Tumlinson, who lives on Hollypark Drive, called the city because she was concerned about a water meter box that was sinking in.
Tumlinson said she was worried that a student from nearby North Shore High could have tripped on it.
“I wish I never called. It’s been such a stress,” said Tumlinson.
The city of Houston admitted its worker broke policy by not flushing the line before reconnecting it to the house.
Debora Tumlinson, Delphia’s daughter, said that’s when all the problems started.
“The first time we turned the water on, the faucet here in the house, all of that debris came into the house. It destroyed all of the plumbing,” said Debora.
The Tumlinsons said the worker’s error also blew the house’s foundation watering system, which had just been installed in October 2013.
“There was water standing three inches above the ground and there was 18 inches below that, all the way around the house,” explained Debora.
The mother and daughter had been hoping they could resolve it with the city of Houston. That changed when a letter came in the mail this week.
It said the city of Houston is “immune from suit in state court and from liability.”
The letter from the city explained that “it is liable for property damage only if it is caused by an employee negligently operating either a motor-driven vehicle or motor-driven equipment.”
“If you’re not responsible for your workers, then fire the incompetent people you’ve got working for you,” said Debora.
According to the Tumlinsons, an attorney representing the city told them it is final, and the bill is on them.
“At the end of it, I told him I hope when he’s 80 years old, someone steps on his head and pushes him right in the mud like he’s doing to me,” said Delphia.
Public works spokesman Alvin Wright told KHOU he has not seen concrete proof that the city worker’s mistake caused all the damage.
The Tumlinsons said that’s because most of it has already been fixed on their dime. However, the foundation watering system has not been repaired and will have to be entirely replaced.
Debora believes it’s her responsibility to resolve this for her mother.
“They expect us to quietly go away and disappear into the night," said Debora . "I don’t disappear into the night, and I don’t quit. Nobody steps on my mother. Nobody. I will fight until my last breath.”