Claimant appeared in person
Andrew Lopez, Attorney at Law, for respondent.


On May 24, 1985, claimant Fonso Dotson was driving his vehicle in the
vicinity of Chauncey,
approaching the Upper Cement Bridge at Switzer, West Virginia, when his
vehicle hit a hole.
The vehicle sustained damage to a tire and two tie rod ends in the
amount of $185.75. Mr.
Dotson originally filed this claim solely in his own name. However, the
record reflects that the
vehicle is titled in both his name and that of his wife, Sarah E.
Dotson. The Court then, upon Mr.
Dotson's agreement, amended the style of the claim to include Sarah E.
Dotson as a party

Claimant was travelling from Logan to his place of employment, a coal
company in Chauncey.
He was alone in his vehicle, and was travelling at approximately 45
miles per hour. The weather
was clear. The bridge in question is a two-lane cement bridge. Mr.
Dotson had travelled this
route every day going to and from work and had observed the hole prior
to this incident. The
hole in the bridge had been covered with a steel plate approximately a
week before this incident.
On May 24, the steel plate was no longer covering the hole, and the hole
was exposed.

Claimants' vehicle struck the hole with the two right tires. The
vehicle required the installation
of two tie rods, the replacement of a tire, balancing and alignment.

The State has been found negligent for failing to discover and correct
a hazard on a bridge
which a casual inspection would have revealed. Randall v. Department of
Highways, 8 Ct.Cl.
147 (1970). More recently the Court found the State negligent for
failing to warn the travelling
public of a hazardous condition on an interstate bridge. Smith v.
Department of Highways,
CC-85-320 (1986).

From the record in this case, the Court is of the opinion that the
respondent was negligent in
failing to properly maintain the bridge. Although the claimant was aware
of the existence of the
hole, he relied upon the placement of the steel plate to protect his
vehicle from the hole beneath
the plate. Therefore, the Court makes an award to the claimant in the
amount of $185.75.

Award of $185.75.