OPINION ISSUED JUNE 27, 1988
KIM P. SHAFFER
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS
Claimant appeared in person.
Nancy J. Aliff, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
On December 17, 1986, at approximately 10:0 a.m., claimant was
operating her 1981
Plymouth reliant in a southerly direction on I-77 when her
struck an expansion joint.
Claimant originally filed the claim in both her name and that of
husband, Daniel J. Shaffer. The
car is titled solely in the name of Kim P. Shaffer. The Court, upon
own motion, amended the
style of the claim to dismiss Daniel J. Shaffer as a claimant.
Claimant was travelling from her home in Elkview to Charleston. It
cloudy, and the road
was dry. She observed a police automobile on the side of the road
its flashing blue lights in
operation. She also observed an expansion joint extended
to the highway surface
approximately 12-18 inches above the highway. She was proceeding in
center lane of the
three-lane highway, and the joint was blocking most of two lanes.
swerved her vehicle to
the right, and the automobile struck the joint. She testified that
was travelling at a speed of
35-40 miles per hour. Damage to the Reliant included bent rims on
tires, among other
damages. She seeks $1,091.06.
Mrs. Shaffer is unaware how long this condition existed. She does not
know if it was reported
to respondent previous to her accident.
Herbert C. Boggs, Interstate Maintenance Assistant for respondent,
testified that he was
involved with the accident site's location at the time of the
He had not received notice
prior to the date of the accident. He was notified approximately 30
minutes before the accident.
He stated that it is impossible to anticipate problems with
joints present on the highway.
For the respondent to be liable for damages caused by road defects
this type, the claimant
must prove that the respondent had actual or constructive notice of
defect and a reasonable
amount of time to take corrective action. Davis vs. Department of
Highways, 12 Ct.Cl. 31
(1977); Hoskins vs. Department of Highways, 12 Ct.Cl. 60 (1977);
Department of Highways, 13 Ct.Cl. 310 (1980). It is the opinion of
Court that, although
respondent did have actual notice in this case, the respondent
the time to effect repairs.
This claim must be denied.