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Town ordered to pay $1.2 million over sewer line dispute

February 14, 2019

JOHNSTON, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island jury has ordered the town of Johnston to pay a developer $1.2 million in a decades-long sewer line dispute.

The Providence Journal reports that the jury ruled recently that the town had trespassed on developer H. Charles Tapalian’s sewer lines.

Eric Brainsky, who represented Tapalian’s company, says “just because you’re the government, you cannot take advantage of the ordinary person.”

The dispute dates to the early 1970s when Tapalian started developing federally subsidized housing. The sewage system started having problems in the 1980s.

Tapalian says he found out in 2010 another sewer line from a nearby subdivision had been connected to his privately-owned system.

Brainsky says the town has since disconnected the sewer line.

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena has declined to comment on the case.