Renters seek damages in 2013 sewage backup

Six days before the two-year statute of limitations took effect, a Homer lawyer filed a lawsuit in Superior Court against the city of Homer on behalf of two families affected by a Jan. 13, 2013, sewage backup.

In his complaint Michael Hough seeks damages of at least $100,000 for each family for loss of property, expenses and injuries. Two families filed claims, Chip Duggan and his daughter, who lived at 1293 Iris Court, and Dennis and Rena Haunschild and their children, who lived at 4452 Early Spring Court. 

Both families rented the homes. The sewage backup also affected a third family and homeowner, but they are not named in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs claim the city of Homer negligently maintained a wastewater system, and that sewage backed up into the two homes, contaminating property. The Duggans moved out that night, but the Haunschilds returned to their home after attempting to clean up the mess. The Haunschilds claim mold and fungi formed in the house. Some family members later developed respiratory problems and other health issues, the lawsuit claims.

Initially, the city offered $3,500 to the families, but the city’s insurer, the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association, balked at paying more, saying it was “an act of God.” 

Last June, the city settled with two home-
owners, Steve Bambakidis, for $45,000, and Ken Halpin, for $250,000. Halpin owns the Early Spring Street home. Hough represented Halpin in that settlement. 

The city and Hough both said then they were happy with the property owners’ settlement. Hough said the facts of the renters and homeowners cases are similar and will be argued on the same premise.

Interim City Manager Marvin Yoder said the city is aware of the lawsuit. He said the city has been in contact with its attorney handling the case, but that he otherwise had no comment. 

In an executive session held Monday at the Homer City Council meeting, Yoder said he would inform the council and Mayor Beth Wythe of the Haunschild et al. case as well as other legal matters.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at

More in News

Then Now: Looking back on pandemic response

Comparing messaging from 1918 to 2021

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Golden-yellow birch trees and spruce frame a view of Aurora Lagoon and Portlock Glacier from a trail in the Cottonwood-Eastland Unit of Kachemak Bay State Park off East End Road on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong)
State Parks to hold meeting on Eastland Cottonwood unit

Meeting will include update on Tutka Bay Hatchery bill

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Company looks to build solar farm on peninsula

It would be roughly 20 times the size of the largest solar farm currently in the state.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna Trooper arrested for multiple charges of child sex abuse

He has been a State Trooper in Soldotna since June 2020.

This photo shows the Alaska State Capitol. An Alaska state lawmaker was cited for driving with an open can of beer in his vehicle that another lawmaker said was actually his. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Lawmaker cited for open beer fellow legislator says was his

Republican Sen. Josh Revak plans to challenge the $220 ticket.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
This 2011 photo shows the Taku and Malaspina ferries at the Auke Bay Terminal.
Costs add up as ferry idled nearly 2 years

Associated Press The cost to the state for docking an Alaska ferry… Continue reading

The Federal Aviation Administration released an initiative to improve flight safety in Alaska for all aviation on Oct. 14, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
FAA releases Alaska aviation safety initiatives

The recommendations, covering five areas, range from improvements in hardware to data-gathering.

AP Photo / Becky Bohrer
The Alaska Capitol is shown on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. There is interest among lawmakers and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy in settling a dispute over the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend program, but no consensus on what the program should look like going forward.
Alaskans get annual boost of free money from PFD

Checks of $1,114 are expected to be paid to about 643,000 Alaskans, beginning this week.

Most Read