ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (WJBK) - Phillip and Mary Penberthy and their 16-year-old son have been forced to live in a hotel room for the last four months after a project to widen Hamlin Road in Rochester Hills went terrible wrong.
"Water was flooding in the basement from the first floor. So we ran down there; sewage was dropping all over," Phillip remembers.
According to the city attorney, Consumers Energy decided to take advantage of the project and hired a contractor to replace a pipeline. By mistake, workers pierced the Penberthy's private sewage pipe, causing massive amounts of waste to flow into their bathroom, kitchen, several bedrooms and the basement.
"They could have hit a gas main, but they hit our sewer. Nothing was marked out there. They had been asking the city for days to mark the stuff and the city would not do it and this is what happened," Mary says.
The crew repaired the line and the family did their best to clean up the mess, moving much of the stuff they could salvage into the gararge. One month later, though, they say another sub contractor pierced a water main that ended up flooding the garage.
"Non stop! It's unbelievable," Mary says.
But it didn't end there.
They say the repair job to the sewage line didn't hold, sending more sewage flowing into their house -- the very next day.
"At that point, I just felt like we were under attack," Phillip says.
Their four bedroom farmhouse that has been in the family since 1967 is now unlivable, a shell of what it use to be and covered in mold. With the help of their attorney Adam Cohen, the Penberthys are going after the city of Rochester Hills.
"This is the city's fault. What you have to understand is that the city took the Penberthy's property without their consent by imminent domain to widen Hamlin Road. None of this disaster would have happened absent that taken," Cohen says.
He tells us the battle has now moved to the courtroom. The Penberthys are asking for $250,000 dollars in damages. A judge will consider the motion next week.
The Penberthys say they have lost thousands of dollars in belongings and in clean up costs. They just want to find a way to save their house.
The city attorney told FOX 2's Taryn Asher the city is not accepting liability. Although it is a city project, the attorney says the blame lies with the separate sub-contractors who pierced the watermain and sewer line. The attorney added that the city is paying to put the Penberthys in a hotel room and to store their remaining items, but the rest needs to be taken care of by the contractors.
We'll see how this one plays out in court.