Couva doctor loses appeal against WASA over leaking pipeline

File photo
File photo

A Couva doctor who sued the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) for damage to his home he said was caused by a leaking waterline has lost his appeal against a judge’s dismissal of his negligence case.

Dr Vishnu Gyan claimed that sometime around 2000, a burst waterline caused damage to his property at Central Park, Balmain, Couva.

He alleged negligence on WASA’s part and accused the authority of failing to maintain and repair the waterline. Gyan said the damage to his property included cracks to the perimeter wall and house and a hole was left in his yard.

Although his attorney, Khristendath Neebar, successfully argued Justice Joan Charles was wrong that his client’s claim was statute-barred, he failed to convince Appeal Court judges Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, Gregory Smith and Vasheist Kokaram that the cause of the damage to his property was the leaking WASA pipeline.

In its defence, WASA denied all liability for any damage. The authority said the water main on Gyan’s eastern boundary did not belong to it, but was laid by a developer before Gyan bought the property.

The authority further claimed that Gyan damaged the water main while having a hole dug for a wall to be built. The ruptured main was reported in 2003 and repairs done. It also said from 1999-2002, Gyan did not report any burst water mains or damage to his property.

Smith, who delivered a summary of the court’s ruling, agreed with the judge’s finding that Gyan’s case was starved for evidence as to what caused the damage.

On the limitation point, Smith said there were legal authorities that showed if you have a continuing problem, fresh damage was a new cause of action, so once damage continued, the cause of action continued.

The judges also provided guidance on two other issues in the judge’s ruling in 2017 on a finding of a nuisance. In her decision, Charles said in the absence of proving negligence, a public authority could not be made liable for nuisance.

Smith said the court was not satisfied this was true in law.

Although Gyan’s appeal was dismissed, he was only ordered to pay half of WASA’s costs in the appeal because he was successful on the limitation point.

The authority was represented by attorney Alvin Ramroop.

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