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Water Main Breaks – What Are Your Legal Options?

On Thursday, February 27, 2020, an 8-foot City of Houston water main pipe was ruptured, flooding the East Loop Interstate 610. The event made national newsLocal news reported that this required that the Houston Independent School District close all of its schools the following Friday. It also led to the City calling for a boil water notice. All downtown county buildings were closed, as well as the Courts and the Jury Assembly.

The water main break led to flooding of roadways and a local neighborhood.  If your home was subject to a water main break, what are your legal options? This issue was addressed by a homeowner in recent case just last year. In Sosa v. Massachusetts Bay Ins. Co., No. A-5349-16T3, 2019 WL 1780983 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Apr. 24, 2019), a court considered a claim brought by a homeowner on their homeowner’s insurance policy. The New Jersey Appellate Division held that damage from a broken municipal water main under a public street was covered under the policy. In that case, a homeowner brought an action against his insurer for breach of contract after the insurer disclaimed coverage on the basis that damage to his real and personal property resulting from a broken water main was excluded under the policy as flood, surface and groundwater intrusion.

How the recent water main break in Houston will be interpreted remains to be seen.