Can I Sue the City for Their Having Provided Misinformation to our Contractor?

“First, let me commend you for insisting that questions are properly written!

Because the City of Elyria, Ohio told my excavating contractor that my sewer was located in the front of my house, a day and a half was wasted digging. Eventually the sewer was located at the back of the house, and eventually the sewer was replaced at my expense.

Can I sue the City for (at the very least) the amount of time that was wasted because the contractor was misinformed?”

Good question, and well written.

Unfortunately, the answer is: Possibly not. There is a concept in the law known as soverign immunity. (It originated with the idea that you can’t sue the king.) It means that, in many situations, you simply can’t sue the government.

However, the exceptions to this rule are numerous. Unfortunately, they are also very state-specific, so I can’t tell you whether one applies to your situation. You will have to at least consult with an attorney in your state.

One thing you may wish to consider at the beginning: What was your loss due to this error? Is it small enough that it would be within the small claims limit in your state? If so, you may be able to pursue the claim yourself, at a minimal cost.

I would still advise consulting with an attorney, however, especially where a government agency is involved. Often, there are different rules and deadlines for suing the government than there are for suing a private individual, and you wouldn’t want to lose your case because you messed up the procedure.

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