OPINION ISSUED OCTOBER 30, 1985
TERESA R. ALTOMARE AND SAMUEL ALTOMARE
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS
William B. Carey, Attorney at Law, for claimant.
Henry C. Bias, Deputy Attorney General, for respondent.
On July 7, 1975, claimant, Teresa R. Altomare, accompanied by her
daughter-in-law and sister-in-law, was driving a 1969 Oldsmobile
station wagon belonging to both claimants in a northerly direction
on W.Va. Route 7, also known as South Fork Road, entering the town
of Moorefield, West Virginia. At a point near the intersection of
South Fork Road and Paskell Drive, claimant Teresa R. Altomare
suddenly lost control of the vehicle, veered to the right across
the berm into a drainage ditch and the vehicle flipped over and
landed on its wheels. In explaining what happened, Mrs. Altomare
I started driving and drove down on this beautiful highway and all
of a sudden I felt a quiver in the steering wheel like, you know,
and I had power brakes and I just tried to tap them a little bit so
I could come to a safe stop but what happened was that I pulled
over and the car veered to the right and the ditch was there and I
just went over and I thought I went over, I don't know how cars,
how things happen. I'm not familiar with that but I went over and
landed on.the wheels straight up.
Claimant sustained permanent injuries from the accident and seeks
an award of $750,000.00. Claimant alleged that the respondent was
negligent for failing to maintain the drainage ditch in proper
condition and for failing to install a guard rail between the road
and drainage ditch.
Eugene Brand, County Supervisor for the respondent at the time of
the accident, testified that the basic character of the ditch had
not changed over the years and had been maintained in the same
manner as other like drainage ditches. Mr. Brand also testified
that respondent used the guard rail standards recommended in
guidelines established by the Federal Highway Administration and
under such guidelines, guard rails would never have been erected at
the scene of this accident.
From the record, there was no evidence of negligence on the part
of the respondent presented which was the proximate cause of the accident. Neither the maintenance of the drainage ditch nor the
lack of a guard rail caused the accident. The drainage ditch was
maintained as any other in this State, and the guard rail standards
were followed. Accordingly, the Court is of the opinion to and does
disallow the claim.