Three-and-a-half years ago, the city of Los Altos dumped 36,000 gallons of raw sewage into Tom Burns' house. Tree roots clogging the sewer line sent enough waste to fill two swimming pools pouring out of the sinks, drains and toilets throughout the house, forcing Burns to move out for 9 months and, not surprisingly, leading to a bitter public and courtroom fight. The case has put the city's aging sewer system in the spotlight, including an alleged coverup of overflows into Adobe Creek and nearly a dozen other instances in which the city has paid damages to homeowners.
Somehow, Burns lost the case, and the two sides are in court again this afternoon to hear his appeal in the case. Burns wants the city to pay more than a million in damages, but the city is sticking to its argument that Burns was at fault for not installing a backflow device, an argument that the judge apparently bought the first time around.
A friend says Burns, a rheumatologist, is also working on a book in the case. If nothing else, it should have a good title.