Lawsuit against county alleges negligence in septic installation

Robert Maharry

A Fern couple is suing Grundy County, its insurance company the Board of Health and Sanitarian Carie Sager over alleged violations of the Iowa Code stemming from an improper installation of a septic system on their property.
Greg and Lisa Melcher filed the suit in Grundy County District Court on April 18, and beyond requesting financial relief in their own case, the petition explicitly questions the county’s policies on well testing—specifically, of approving permits without requiring percolation tests, approving soil absorption systems at lengths, depths and minimum standards inconsistent with Chapter 69 of the code, failing to inspect sites prior to the issuance of permits, failing to carry out routine inspections as required by law and failing “to require a showing of competence in licensure of installers of septic systems.”
It goes on to accuse the county and the board of negligence in hiring Sager, failing to supervise both Sager and her predecessors, failing to train her, and ignoring warnings about the failure of the Melchers’ system after it was installed in 2017.
According to the filing, Lisa Melcher experienced gastrointestinal illness after the system was installed on her property due to the presence of e. coli in the water, which developed a “foul odor.” 
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