Elizabeth Young Apr. 12, 2013, 2:30pm

NEW ORLEANS – The owners, operators and tenants of a New Orleans apartment complex are suing a construction company, a local energy provider and their insurers after a series of plumbing problems resulted in sewage backups.

Alex Alugas Jr., Erica Harding Alugas, Alex Alugas Sr. and Sharell Carter filed suit against A & L Underground Inc., National Union Fire Insurance Company, Entergy of New Orleans and Chartis Claims in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Feb. 1.

The suit comes after the apartment complex at 3334-3336 Derbigny St. suffered multiple instances of sewage backup. The owners originally tried to remedy the backups with conventional methods and while these methods appeared to work for a while, the sewage eventually backed up again. On the recommendation of a professional plumber the Alugas contacted the Sewage and Water Board, which denied fault for the issue.

The plaintiffs eventually contracted a plumbing company to dig up the ground around the sewage line in search of an answer. On Feb. 2, 2012 it was discovered that a gas line had been laid through the main sewage line.

The suit alleges that A & L, a subcontractor for Entergy, failed to route the gas line around the sewage and water line and used a metal head or bit which pierced the sewage line, breaking up the terra cotta pipe and causing an obstruction.

The defendant A & L is accused of negligence for running a gas line through the sewer line and failing to design and/or route the gas line around the sewer line.

Entergy is accused of negligence for running a gas line through the sewer line, failing to design and/or route the gas line around the sewer line as well as not monitoring its construction firm in a way that would not cause damage and aggravation to the plaintiffs.

The insurance companies are accused of being in violation of Louisiana statues relating to the prompt payment of claims, the proper and reasonable investigation of claims and bad faith.

An unspecified amount of damages is sought for past, present and future payments for all the work required to discover and to repair the problem, loss of personal property of the tenant, loss of rent to the owners, fear at having been placed in potential harm, inconvenience and aggravation, harm to the physical well being of the occupants of the apartments and placing them in harm's way.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Michael C. Darnell of New Orleans.

The case has been assigned to Division D Judge Lloyd J. Medley.

Case No. 2013-01071.

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