Kappel v Central Coco Sanitary District

  • Court: California State, Contra Costa County, Superior Court
  • Case number: MSC19-01012
  • Filed: May 28, 2019
  • Judges: Cecilia Castellanos | Edward G Weil | Jill C Fannin | John P Devine
  • Case type: 14: Unlimited Eminent Domain/Inv Cond

Parties Involved

Verdict Information

  • Verdict date: April 25, 2024
  • Total damages awarded to Plaintiff: $0.00

About the Case


Jane Kappel and Bryan Kappel (the Plaintiffs) resided in Contra Costa County, California. They alleged that on or about July 26, 2018, and in the years prior, Central Contra Costa Sanitary District’s (CCCSD) employees and agents, with CCCSD’s consent, negligently and unreasonably managed the subject sewer lines. This management included owning, maintaining, operating, repairing, servicing, installing, controlling, improving, designing, constructing, and planning. As a result of negligence in maintenance, a massive backup of raw and untreated sewage at the Plaintiff’s property causing damages and injuries to the Plaintiffs.

On or about July 26, 2018, the Plaintiffs notified CCCSD of the damage and requested abatement. However, Defendants failed and refused to abate the nuisance, acting willfully, oppressively, and maliciously with full knowledge of the damage caused to Plaintiffs.

On January 25, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed a Government Tort Claim against CCCSD under Government Code sections 910, 910.2, and 910.4. CCCSD rejected the claim on March 8, 2019.

On May 28, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed a damages, dangerous condition, public nuisance and inverse condemnation claim against the Defendants.

They alleged that CCCSD owed a duty to the Plaintiffs and the public to exercise reasonable care in managing the sewer lines. This included ownership, maintenance, operation, repair, servicing, installation, control, improvement, design, construction, and planning, and all associated ministerial acts.

The Plaintiffs alleged that CCCSD breached this duty by negligently and unreasonably failing to exercise reasonable care in managing the subject sewer lines. This breach resulted in damages to the Plaintiff’s personal property and impaired Plaintiffs’ health, causing serious illnesses and requiring medical treatment and hospitalization. It interfered with the Plaintiff’s comfortable enjoyment of the property.

The sewer backup constituted a nuisance under California Civil Code section 3479, as it injured Plaintiffs’ health and interfered with the enjoyment of their property.


As a direct result of Defendants’ negligence, recklessness, and wrongful conduct, Plaintiffs suffered property damage and injuries exceeding the Court’s jurisdictional minimum but planned to amend the Complaint once damages were fully ascertained. Plaintiffs incurred costs for repairing, decontaminating, and replacing damaged property, and for expert investigations and alternative living expenses. They also experienced loss of use and enjoyment, property value diminution, and other damages to be proven at trial. Furthermore, the dangerous condition caused Plaintiffs physical and nervous injuries, resulting in ongoing mental and physical pain and suffering. Plaintiffs sought damages for property repair, decontamination, and compensation for the resulting annoyance and mental suffering, as proven at trial.


Under the present nuisance, dangerous condition and inverse condemnation claim, the Plaintiffs prayed for judgment against the Defendants and sought compensatory damages according to proof. They requested pre-judgment interest according to proof. They further claimed reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of suit and any additional relief the Court deemed appropriate.

Jury Verdict

On April 24, 2024, a California jury found the Defendants to be free from any guilt. The Plaintiffs received no compensation under the inverse condemnation claim. The verdict was divided into two. One jury verdict decided whether the public property, that is, the sewage lines were in a dangerous condition at the time of the disputed incident. The jury’s opinion was that it was not in a dangerous condition. The second jury verdict decided whether the the Defendant’s actions or failure to act had created a situation harmful to health. The jury held that the Defendant had not played a part in the disputed incident.

Court Documents


Jury Verdict – Dangerous Condition

Jury Verdict – Private Nuisance