WATERVILLE — A Vassalboro woman is suing the city for damages in a case involving a city truck that she claims slid on a hill and smashed into her car, heavily damaging the 2001 Honda Accord.

In a Kennebec County Superior Court suit filed May 13, Renee Champagne claims that on Jan. 11, city employee Robert Bellows was backing a city truck down a hill when he lost control of the vehicle and it slid into her parked car. She was not in the car at the time of the accident.

The complaint alleges the car was totaled because of the truck driver’s negligence and carelessness and that she was left with no transportation. Champagne’s auto insurance doesn’t cover property damage, according to attorney Jonathan Brogan, of Portland, who was hired by Waterville’s insurance carrier, the Maine Municipal Association, to defend the suit.

Champagne is asking for money damages to “fairly and reasonably compensate her for all damages to her vehicle, vehicle rental costs, towing charges and lost time from employment.” She also seeks court costs, attorney fees and interest.

Champagne is represented by attorney Scott Gurney, of Waterville. Two messages left Wednesday for Gurney were not returned.

An estimate from PC Auto Body, of Waterville, dated Feb. 28 and included in Champagne’s court documents, says the cost to repair the 2001 Honda Accord is $4,806.

In its answer to the suit, filed May 22 the city denies that Bellows was negligent and careless and asks the court to dismiss the case.

Brogan, representing the city, said in a telephone interview that the accident was caused by road conditions and there was no at-fault party.

“We have denied that there’s any responsibility for paying Ms. Champagne because we do not believe there was any negligence on the part of the city,” Brogan said.

He said the case will proceed to trial, which he estimated would take place in eight months to a year.

Meanwhile Waterville’s city solicitor, William Lee, said Monday that “typically people have insurance and with insurance, it gets settled by insurance and you don’t get into lawsuits.”

“I’d have to say this is the first one that I recall,” Lee said. “It’s very unusual. I’ve never seen such a suit against the city before. Look at the legal fees involved. Typically when the city is sued, somebody’s been hurt. This is just a property damage claim.”

Lee said attorney’s fees in such a case could easily be equal to the amount of damages sought.

Amy Calder — 861-9247 |

[email protected] |

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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