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B.C. man wins $1,000 compensation for toilet overflow

Plumber had to clear out “excessive amounts of paper and wipes"
A judge has ordered a B.C. man be reimbursed for an insurance deductible he payed out after his upstairs neighbour's toilet overflowed into his suite.

A B.C. man has won his small claim case to get $1,000 for an insurance deductible after a toilet overflow caused $80,000 in damage to his suite.

John Meier, who lives below Rositta Dietz in a strata building, claimed her toilet overflowed Aug. 23, 2021, causing significant damage to his suite.

Meier’s insurance covered the damage, but he had to pay a $1,000 deductible, for which he sought compensation, according to an Aug. 18 decision from tribunal member Eric Regehr.

Dietz said that there was no evidence to confirm that she negligently clogged the toilet, something Regehr said was the primary issue before him.

But in a civil claim, Regehr said that Meier must prove the claim on a balance of probabilities, meaning he only needed to show it is more likely than not that Dietz negligently damaged his strata lot.

'Excessive amounts of paper and wipes'

The strata hired a plumber to clear the blockage. The plumber had to dismantle the drainage pipes for Dietz’s toilet, which they accessed through Meier’s bathroom ceiling, and cleared out “excessive amounts of paper and wipes.”

The plumber also said the leak’s “main cause was lost down the pipe.”

According to the tribunal ruling, there was enough evidence to establish the source of the leak was Dietz’s toilet.

Still, Regehr agreed with Dietz that the evidence about what blocked the drainpipe was not entirely conclusive because the blockage had partially cleared.

“In other words, it may not have been the paper and wipes the plumber observed,” Regehr said.

"Still, I find that the evidence establishes that the toilet likely overflowed after Ms. Dietz flushed it, based on the location and description of the partial blockage and lack of any obvious alternative cause,” Regehr said.

Regehr found Dietz likely did not monitor the toilet after flushing.

“I therefore find that her conduct fell below the applicable standard of care and that she is liable for Mr. Meier’s deductible,” Regehr said.