Jacksonville man threatens to sue city over septic tanks

Man, 86, says city promised 5 decades ago to get him on sewer service

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man is now threatening to file a federal lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville for violating what he says are his Constitutional rights. 

Northside resident Edward Exson said the city was obligated to provide him with a connection to city sewer services, which was promised to Northside residents during consolidation in the late 1960s but has yet to happen.  

“Their obligation is to stick with what the legislation enacted, and I won't be satisfied until I get it,” Exson said.

Exson, 86, said that for more than 50 years, the city of Jacksonville has denied him equal protection under the law. 

He said that in 1968, when the city of Jacksonville consolidated with Duval County, officials promised a connection to a city sewer line for his Northside neighborhood. He only has a septic tank. 

“The city has got money from the state and the federal government for sewage remediation, and none of that has been spent in the black communities,” Exson said. “What I'm interested in now is getting equality.”

Exson, who has two grandchildren, said his quality of life has been affected because the amount of water he can use is limited with a septic tank. He said his grandchildren, one of whom just got accepted to MIT, and their parents won't stay with him because of the limitations. 

“When they come to town, they can't stay with their grandparents (because the septic tank won't accommodate them),” Exson said. “What kind of grandparent wouldn't want to have that kind of intelligence around them?”

Exson said he's hired a lawyer, and if he doesn't hear back from the city, he'll push forward with a lawsuit that he wants heard in federal court. 

"It's a violation of my rights,” he said, “and I'm addressing them." 

A spokesperson for the Mayor's Office said the city isn't sure if Mayor Lenny Curry has received Exson's letter, which was sent six days ago. 

An attorney not associated with this case said Exson would only be able to file a lawsuit based on a violation of his Constitutional rights if he can prove discrimination due to issues such as race, age, sex or protected class membership. 

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Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.