OPINION ISSUED FEBRUARY 19, 1986
FRIEDA LEGGETT AND WILLIAM LEGGETT
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS
Gregory W. Evers, Attorney at Law for claimants.
Andrew Lopez, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
On October 1, 1981, at approximately 10:00 p.m., claimant Frieda
Leggett was driving south
on Interstate 77 at approximately 45-50 miles per hour near Ripley,
Jackson County. I-77 is a
four-lane highway. On the date in question, the right lane of the
southbound lanes was
closed as employees of respondent were performing maintenance.
Frieda Leggett was
driving a 1976 Ford Granada titled in both her own name and that of
As she approached the construction area, she stated that she
"Keep Right" sign
and black barrels placed across the right lane. Claimant Frieda
then went to the left lane
and drove for approximately a mile or a mile and a half. She said
saw an opening and on
down, about 100 feet, a car in the right lane. She said she saw the
car's tail lights and thought that
this was where she was supposed to turn. She said she did not see
barrels ahead of her and
saw nothing which prevented her from the switching from the left to
right lane. She
straightened up in the right lane and drove into an excavated hole.
estimated this hole to be
three or four feet deep. Claimants asked for an award in the amount
$75,000 incident to
property damages and personal injuries.
The investigating trooper, Michael Bright, an employee of the
Department of Public Safety,
testified that orange-colored barrels were clearly in evidence in
construction area. However,
he had measured a distance of 282 feet between barrels where the
had moved from the
left lane to the right lane. He did not remember seeing any warning
signs and did not observe a
'Keep Right" sign. Claude Blake, respondent's investigator,
that he had made an error, in
his answers to interrogatories, when he listed the presence of two
Right' signs in the
construction area; that his answer should have been that there were
'Keep Left" signs. He
was unable to provide documentation to support this correction.
Three different employees testified that they participated in
orange and white-colored
barrels at a distance of 50-60 feet apart in the area of
I-77 near Ripley on
September 24, 1981 in accordance with the Case 20 Diagram in a
Control Manual. In
addition, warning signs were placed at that time. William R.
employee of respondent,
testified that on October 1, 1981, he was working at patching holes
I-77 near Ripley. He did
not observe either a 'Keep Right' sign nor any barrels with a
of 282 feet between them.
James Kiser, a general foreman with respondent in October, 1981,
testified that he was working
on the concrete patching on October 1, 1981 and 60 days prior to
1, 1981. He did not
observe barrels out of place, nor a "Keep Right' sign on I-77 near
Testimony failed to establish negligence on the part of the
The barrels and warning
signs were placed in accordance with respondent's regulations.
It is the opinion of the Court that the evidence in this claim
establish such negligence
on the part of the respondent as to justify an award.