O'Neal knew that if a hazard on his own property damaged someone's car, he'd be financially liable. Since it was the city's pothole, he figured the city should take responsibility. He went to a2gov.org, found a form for filing a claim with the city's insurance board, explained what happened, and asked to be reimbursed.
The city denied his claim, but it was nothing personal. By mid-May, thirty-one people had filed road damage claims, and every one was denied. After last year's much milder winter, eight people filed road damage claims. The insurance board denied all of them, too.
O'Neal admits the rejection wasn't a complete surprise. He'd been following the story of eighty-two-year-old Cynthia Kokkales since last fall.
One day last September, Cynthia Kokkales discovered she had no water. The city had just replaced the water main in front of her home on W. Madison. That sometimes loosens deposits in the pipe, causing them to plug a screen that protects the water meter. But as her son Dean--a superintendent at O'Neal Construction--tells it, a city worker took off the meter, found nothing, and said, "I think your line has collapsed ... There's nothing I can do. You'll have to get ahold of a plumber."