Jon Campisi Jan. 5, 2012, 9:01am

The principals of a Philadelphia-based plumbing company are suing the City of Philadelphia in state court for damage the plaintiffs contend was done to their property as a result of flooding caused by a broken water main in the city’s Northwest section.

John J. Hagarty, an attorney based in Philadelphia’s Roxborough neighborhood, filed the complaint Jan. 3 at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court on behalf of Gerald J. Stimmler, Jr. and G. Andrew Stimmler.

The two own and operate G.J. Stimmler & Sons, Inc., a business specializing in plumbing, heating and air conditioning services.

The lawsuit claims that a building located at 3831-33 Manayunk Ave. in Northwest Philadelphia owned by the plaintiff’s sustained damage in the form of cracked concrete walls and floors due to water that had seeped into the building as a result of a busted water main a couple blocks uphill from the property.

The incident happened in February of last year. It took Philadelphia Water Department employees 15 days to locate the source of the leak, and subsequently fix the problem, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs didn’t notice the cracks in their building until April 2011, the suit states.

Then, in early September 2011, the PWD again responded to reports of water pouring into the basements of neighbors of the plaintiffs.

PWD dispatched workers to the area, where water was eventually pumped from the basements of the homes adjacent to the plaintiffs’ property, the suit states.

Because the plaintiffs’ property has no basement, however, water damage at the location was not immediately discovered, the complaint alleges. During the second week in September, the plaintiffs noticed “increased cracking in the walls and floors” of their property, the suit states. They also observed the movement and rotation of said walls, which included bearing walls, and also discovered cracking in the driveway.

Toward the end of September, PWD workers located the source of the second water main break, which was about three blocks away, and uphill, from the plaintiffs’ property, the suit states.

Nevertheless, the damage was done, and the plaintiffs ended up having to pay for civil engineering inspection and consultation relating to the damage at their property, the suit states.

They must now begin “temporary measures to reinforce their roof and walls and prevent collapse.”

The lawsuit claims that as a result of the defendants’ alleged negligence, the plaintiffs will continue to incur costs related to the flooding remediation.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of failing to properly maintain the water main and water lines that led to the eventual damage; failing to properly inspect said water lines; failing to take “reasonable and appropriate steps” to stop the water flow from the broken mains; failing to have a reasonable inspection plan in place so as to prevent the leaking from occurring; and causing, allowing and/or permitting the water to flow under the plaintiffs’ premises “when it knew or should have known of the damage and danger caused thereby.”

“As a result of Defendants’ negligence as set out above, Plaintiffs’ premises have sustained a loss in its value because of the structural damage to the premises,” the lawsuit states. “As a result of Defendants’ negligence as set out above, Plaintiffs must continue to expend sums of money for inspections, consultations, testing, temporary shoring and permanent repairs which may require demolition to part of their premises.”

The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest and related costs.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The case number is 120100117.

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