New Lawyer In Controversial Sewage-Spill Case Against City

Alison Smith in the backyard of her 1726 Hanscom Drive home in October, when city code inspectors came to her property. Photo by Skye Hannah

The litigation between Hanscom Drive resident Alison Smith and the City of South Pasadena took a new step this month as Smith retained a new lawyer, Pasadena-based Edward Torres, to represent her case.

Smith is alleging the city failed to take steps to inspect the waste system and remedy damage that was done to her property when raw sewage flooded it in January 2018.

Smith said that while she alerted the city when the spill erupted from a pipe on her property on Jan. 11, 2018, city officials neglected to take responsibility, leading to her yard being contaminated from the 30-hour spill.

Smith filed the lawsuit in February with Calabasas-based lawyer James Perez, as she felt the city was avoiding taking responsibility for the spill, which she said was caused by a blockage in a city-owned pipe.

Torres told the Review that he was in contact with the city’s attorneys, Teresa Highsmith and Jennifer Louise Pancake of Pasadena-based Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC.

He said the next milestone will involve amending the last complaint “to add a civil-rights cause of action, based on the obtaining of the search warrant’’ that was used for an extensive search of Smith’s home on Oct. 18.

The city reported that multiple code violations were found as a result. Smith has previously said she thinks the city was using the code enforcement to retaliate for her going public about the sewage complaint.

“I’m in litigation [so] I cannot say much, but will say is this: never, ever, after nine years of being here and building my reputation as a community member, parent volunteer and now teacher of dance in the schools, could I have imagined that I’d see Alison Smith vs. the City of South Pasadena in the headlines,” Smith said in a statement to the Review.

“I’ve loved living here … and I’m hoping to find that feeling again as all that surrounds my life right now is worry and heartbreak. My own kids and the kids I teach continue to keep my joy and spirit alive and pushing through. That, and the truth.

“Thank you friends, residents and perfect strangers … for your support.’’