OPINION ISSUED JULY 10, 1987
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS
Claimant appeared in person.
Nancy J. Aliff, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
On August 27, 1986, the claimant was operating his 1983 Chevrolet
pickup truck in a
northerly direction on Bull Creek, McDowell County, when the
struck some large rocks.
Claimant seeks $86.63, which amount represents the damage done to
wheel of the truck.
Claimant testified that he was travelling to Iaeger from his home
Mohawk. The road in
question is a one-lane, blacktop highway. It was 2:00 p.m. or 3:00
and bright daylight. The
accident occurred on a straight stretch of the road about 200 to
feet in length. Claimant
stated that there was a coal truck approaching in the opposite
the road is narrow, he
drove his vehicle to the right side of the pavement and struck some
rocks laying on the berm. He
stated that bulldozing activity had taken place in that area. The
equipment was not that of the
respondent. The bulldozing operation had cause the rocks to slide
the berm. He stated that
the rocks "... was almost as big as a water bucket, and there was
couple or three of them."
Claimant further stated that he was aware that the rocks were at
location prior to the time
which his vehicle struck them. He had alerted respondent to this
before this incident.
William A. England, County Supervisor - McDowell County, for
respondent, testified that
road 3/1 is a State local service road, and there is very little
maintenance on it because it is very
low priority. There are less than 50 vehicles a day on this
Respondent had not been
doing any work in the vicinity of this incident immediately prior
August 27, 1986. Mr. England
did not take any action when claimant reported the hazard. Priority
roads are worked before
low priority roads.
This Court has held in the past that if an independent contractor
engaged in the
construction work, the respondent cannot be held liable for the
negligence, if any, of such
independent contractor. (Harper vs. Dept. of Highways, 13 Ct.Cl.
For this reason, the Court is of the opinion to, and does, deny