City sued for not paying cleaning bill

A local company that cleaned up human blood on streets and sidewalks for city police last summer in two incidents has sued the city in order to collect nearly $15,000, saying it has yet to be paid.

Duraclean Restoration Services Inc., of Montoursville, was contacted July 23, 2013, by then-police Capt. Timothy Miller, who now is the department’s assistant chief, to clean blood from the city’s property. The company was asked again six days later to clean up and dispose of infectious waste at another property owned by the city.

Miller cited several incidents in which blood was spattered on streets, including a homicide near Pennsylvania College of Technology and an incident involving an intoxicated man who punched a glass window at a business and left a trail of blood on sidewalks and streets.

In the past, the fire department hosed down such scenes, Miller said.

But this time, the fire department said state Department of Environmental Protection regulations prevented that service, he said.

“It left us in a bind,” Miller said. “We have blood on the street with no way to get rid of it and that’s what precipitated the necessity to dispose of biohazards.”

The trail of blood had people asking police if someone had been stabbed, jumped or beaten. Upset merchants contacted Mayor Gabriel J. Campana to tell him they and the public wanted answers, and Campana instructed Miller to remedy the situation.

“We don’t have a line item in the budget for cleanup of blood,” Miller said.

Miller said he told a Duraclean employee that he believed $1,500 was a reasonable price for the company to clean up the mess. He said the employee told him the cost would be “minimal.”

Miller said the company cleaned up the blood, and the police made an arrest in the downtown incident. The employee called the police to inquire whether the bill would be made public.

“We get a bill for $13,000,” Miller said.

“If the guy said it would cost $13,000, I’d have said, ‘No way. We can’t do that.’ And (we) would have found another way. We would not have spent that much of the taxpayers’ money to power-spray blood off concrete,” Miller said.

The final bill sent to the city was $14,478, plus interest for the two cleanup incidents.

The company contends the initial cleanup carried a cost of $13,482 and said the company offered a discount, down to $8,016, but the discount carried a caveat that the city adopt an infectious waste removal program protocol.

The city has failed to establish the program, refused to pay for the services and won’t pay the discounted price, according to Marc S. Drier, attorney for Duraclean.

Unless a resolution or agreement can be reached, the case will be assigned to a hearing before a board of arbitration, which consists of three attorneys appointed by the court administrator’s office, according to Norman Lubin, city solicitor.

He wasn’t certain, but Lubin thought that might occur by fall.