OPINION ISSUED MARCH 21, 1989
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS
Deborah Y. VanDervort, Attorney at Law, for claimant.
Nancy J. Aliff, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
On July 26, 1987, at approximately 2:30 p.m., Richard D. Persinger
his family were
travelling in his employer, Westvaco's, 1986 Ford Bronco. Westvaco
leases the vehicle through
D. L. Peterson. They approached the intersection of Bluestone
and Dry Hill Road,
(Route 11), Raleigh County. Mr. Persinger attempted to make a
turn. There were
over-hanging rhododendron and white pine at the edge of the road.
unable to see a
motorcycle approaching, and an accident occurred when the
struck the Bronco. The
operator of the motorcycle sued claimant. The case was settled for
$25,000.00 and claimant
now seeks $25,000.00 from respondent.
The day was one of bright sunshine. Mr. Persinger was towing a
trailer behind the
Ford Bronco. At the intersection he said he could only see
twenty feet up the
road to the left. The motorcycle was headed toward Beckley on Dry
Road and Mr.
Persinger's vehicle entered the highway in front of the motorcycle.
was not familiar with the
accident site. He had visited this site only once and this was
approximately two years prior to
this incident. As he approached Dry Hill Road (Route 11), he was
travelling on Bluestone
(Route 4) and came to a stop sign. This was 10 to 15 feet back from
where Route 11 and
Route 4 intersect. Mr. Persinger was able to see the motorcycle 50
feet before the
accident. He explained that the flaring on the motorcycle struck
Bronco. Bluestone (Route
4) is a two-lane, asphalt highway, and the speed limit was forty
Mrs. Betty L. Treadway, who travels this route everyday, testified
one's visibility on
Routes 11 and 4 is affected by the growth of vegetation. The
has been present for the
time in which she has lived in the area, which is several years.
Emerson Stover, Supervisor of Raleigh County for respondent,
that he lived near the
site of the accident. He received a complaint several summers
time of the incident,
but he could not give the exact date. He took the call himself. He
observed the intersection on
the day on which he received the complaint. He felt that no
action was necessary and
he did not take any action. According to Mr. Stover, all of the
vegetation is on private property.
If he felt that there was a hazard on private property, he was the
individual responsible for
initiating the corrective action in Raleigh County.
Victor Carl Fitzwater, acting Assistant Supervisor in Raleigh
for respondent, testified
that Routes 11 and 4 are State and local service roads. He had
received any complaints
prior to this accident regarding this intersection. He visited this
on December 14, 1988. He
observed at that time that 100 to 110 feet up the intersection an
individual was putting in a
driveway and that a few rhododendron bushes had been removed. He
observed that the
pine trees had been topped "... apparently by the power company or
someone like that." The
rhododendron bushes were, at some placed, within four, eight inches
the paved portion of the
There is disagreement over whether or not the vegetation posed a
hazard. It borders State and
local service routes which are not respondent's priority
roads. The sole complaint
received by respondent was investigated by a representative of the
respondent, the county
supervisor. For these reasons the Court is of the opinion to, and
deny the claim.