National News

Pipeline contractor reimburses woman for car damage

Posted August 29

— A city contractor replacing miles of pipeline across Hillcrest, North Park and University Heights must reimburse a woman for damage its equipment caused to her car, a small claims court judge has ruled.

Burtech Pipeline's materials -- with metal parts sticking out -- still line some curbs in those neighborhoods. Last November, Pam Schwartz parked her Infiniti on Univeristy Avenue, and sustained more than a $1,000 in damage to her car.

She's one of several people who contacted 10News about the pipelines after Burtech denied their requests for reimbursment. Earlier this year, the company told 10News it does its best to keep warning signs and barriers up. Schwartz, who says she didn't see any signs, won $1,154 to pay for her car and court fees.

"The judge said if you know they get knocked down perhaps you should go beyond the specs and make sure there really are signs," she said.

But just because Schwartz won her suit doesn't necessarily mean others with car damage can count on a victory.

Ken Klein, a professor at California Western School of Law, said people considering suing over damage can find the resutls encouraging, to an extent. He said small claims lawsuits don't set precedents, and that judges will weight each situation on its own.

"Each case will be slightly different," he said. "Different car, different spot on the curb."

The pipes are no longer on the part of University Avenue where Schwartz parked.

Burtech didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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