Edmonson Voice Staff
On Wednesday, December 2, 2015, the Edmonson Voice was contacted by a local resident who claimed that a Scott Waste garbage truck had driven over his septic tank and became stuck when the top of the tank collapsed from the truck's weight.
Corey Vanmeter, owner of Vanmeter's Heating and Cooling, said he received a phone call from his office on Mohawk Road that a Scott's Waste garbage truck was stuck on his property. After Vanmeter arrived on the scene, he saw the truck, which was off the driveway and partially in Vanmeter's yard. The truck's tire had crushed the top of his septic tank and the contents of the tank were exposed.
Vanmeter said another Scott's Waste truck arrived, hooked a chain to the immobile truck and pulled it out, leaving a huge hole at the top of the septic tank. Vanmeter said he asked the driver what was going to be done about the damages. He said the driver told him that he was only trying to take the easiest route to Vanmeter's dumpster, that he was sorry, and for Vanmeter to call the office so it could be taken care of.
Vanmeter said it made no sense to him as to why the truck had to be off the driveway in the first place. He said the truck could've easily stayed on the driveway while backing up to the dumpster that he said was always in the same place.
"The truck always backs up to the dumpster, hooks up to it, and empties it," Vanmeter said. "I've watched them do it before. Sometimes the dumpster may not be exactly square to where the truck backs down the driveway, so a driver will get out, hook a cable to it, then pull it wherever it needs to go so they can connect the truck to it. The driver just didn't want to get out of his truck and do it on this day, so instead, he got off my driveway to make it easier on him. There was no reason at all for that truck to leave the driveway."
We called the Scott Waste driver coordinator that Vanmeter had contacted and gave him opportunity to tell us their side of the story and answer some questions. "I don't really have anything to say to you. We're doing our own investigation," the man said. (He didn't give us his name) "This is not all our fault at this point. We're working with this resident, and that's all I'm going to say."
Vanmeter said the same man told him that his dumpster was in the wrong place and that the driver had no choice but to leave the driveway. Vanmeter said that was ridiculous, as the dumpster was in the same place that it had always been.
Vanmeter said that after multiple calls and a face-to-face meeting with the Scott representative, Scott Waste told Vanmeter to get an estimate for the damages and it would be reviewed. Vanmeter contacted a local contractor and the estimated cost to repair the tank was $2800.
Vanmeter said he submitted the estimate to Scott Waste and after a week or so, Scott Waste agreed to pay, but only half of it, leaving Vanmeter on the hook for $1400.
It's not a question of whether or not a Scott Waste truck crashed through Vanmeter's septic tank, that's easy. The question becomes "Did the truck have to leave the driveway?" No one is accusing the driver of purposely causing damage at Vanmeter's property, but it doesn't take a geologist nor an engineer to figure out that a 32 ton garbage truck (64,000 lbs) driving in someone's yard is not a good idea, period.
It's also pretty obvious to see that the driver had several options before he chose to take the truck off Vanmeter's driveway. 1. get out and line up the dumpster if necessary. 2. get out, knock on the door and see if there was someone at home to line it up or help do so, 3. stop, call a supervisor and discuss the situation, or try to contact Vanmeter and ask him, 4. simply don't take the chance of messing up someone's yard and leave the dumpster for now. Vanmeter undoubtedly would have chosen an over-filled dumpster rather than $2800 worth of damage and a very smelly mess in his yard.
According to the "Values" tab on Scott Waste's website, you'll find "Integrity" listed as one of their values. In fact, it specifically says this: "Integrity: We define integrity as “saying what you will do and then doing it.” We keep our promises to our customers, our employees and our stockholders. Do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason." It's safe to say Mr. Corey Vanmeter would strongly disagree.
This brings up an old argument that many Edmonson County residents had when Scott Waste became the only option for trash pick up within the county. When you don't have a choice, you're pretty much stuck with what you've got (see internet and cell phone service).
So, what can you do to keep this from happening at your place? Not much, really. Vanmeter said that an attorney told him he would have to sue Scott Waste for the damages, and even if he won, the legal fees and costs would exceed the damages he'd be seeking, so it simply wouldn't be worth it. Some might suggest calling the police, but that won't work, either, because the driver didn't damage the tank on purpose. It's not against the law to accidentally damage someone's property.
Vanmeter said he has been forced to file an insurance claim with his own policy, which certainly seems unfair. The insurance claim will cover the entire cost of the repair of the tank, which will allow Scott Waste to be Scott-Free. He also said he was supposed to have another meeting with Scott Waste on Monday, Dec 28, to see if anything else could be worked out, but his calls on that day confirming the appointment were never returned.
It seems Vanmeter has certainly seen a garbage truck load of senseless trouble that includes hassle, inconvenience, an old fashioned run-around, temporarily disabled plumbing, an insurance claim, and what seems to be a big company with little or no regard to the little man...all because a garbage truck driver decided it was best to drive somewhere other than the gravel driveway, which crushed his septic tank... and that stinks.