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Flushing Junk Down Jail Toilets Damages Sewer System, Prompts $2.3 Million Settlement in California Lawsuit

In October 2009, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors tentatively agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged county prisoners were damaging the adjoining sewer system by clogging it up with items not intended to be flushed down the jail’s toilets. The suit was brought by the South Bayside System Authority, a public agency that provides sewer service for cities neighboring the Maguire Correctional Center in Redwood City, California.

The settlement is intended to cover the $1.2 million in extra maintenance costs the authority incurred in dealing with the clothing, hair brushes, food wrappers, hair gels, garbage bags and other solid matter that clogged the sewer’s pumps after being flushed down the county jail’s toilets. Those maintenance costs included the installation of grates at the Redwood City pump station, plus the hiring of two workers to rake the muck off the grates several times a day.

The remaining $1.1 million from the settlement is intended to cover the future costs of handling junk being flushed out of the jail.

In addition to the monetary payout, the settlement requires the county to maintain the discharge of solid matter from the jail at its present level. Regardless of whatever steps the county may take to monitor the discharge of prohibited items, officials have acknowledged they can’t always control what prisoners flush down their toilets. See: SBSA v. County of San Mateo, San Mateo County Superior Court, Case No. CIV-469-129.

Additional source: Daily News

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Related legal case

SBSA v. County of San Mateo,

Please see the brief bank for documents related to this claim.