ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A federal lawsuit alleges that Ann Arbor imposed forced labor on 3,000 residents by requiring home owners to maintain mandatory sump pumps in the southeast Michigan city.

Attorney Irvin Mermelstein filed the lawsuit against Ann Arbor on behalf of four residents in late October, the Ann Arbor News reported . The suit argues that the city’s footing drain disconnection program amounted to the government taking private property through physical invasion and permanent physical occupation.

The program began in 2001 to deal with basement sewage backups. Homeowners had to disconnect footing drains around their homes and install sump pumps. The change diverted stormwater from the city’s sanitary sewer system and directed it to the stormwater drainage system.

Some residents have complained that maintaining sump pumps has been a burden and caused new flooding issues. Other residents have said the city’s storm water drainage system can’t handle heavy rains.

The lawsuit alleges the city’s sewer system wasn’t able to handle the city’s growth and development over the last several decades. It also argues that the city failed to construct properly functioning storm drains in the areas where the plaintiffs’ homes are located.

The city attorney’s office is reviewing the complaint. Earlier this year, the Michigan Court of Appeals sided with the city in two cases that challenged the program’s legality. City officials have said the program was legal and effectively reduced sewage backups.

The city no longer requires homeowners to participate in the program.


Information from: The Ann Arbor News, http://www.mlive.com/ann-arbor