OPINION ISSUED FEBRUARY 27, 1990
PAMELA J. DEEM
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS
Claimant appeared in person.
Jeff Miller, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
On December 22, 1988, claimant was traveling east on U.S. Route 50 in the direction of Bridgeport
when her vehicle struck a pothole on a bridge. She seeks $799.95 for damages to her automobile,
a 1973 Plymouth Scamp.
Claimant testified that on the day of the incident, the four-lane highway was dry. Between 8:00 and
8:30 a.m., claimant was going to her place of employment. Her speed was approximately 45-50 miles
per hour. She stated that the bridge is in poor condition, and the hole which her vehicle struck was
on the surface of the bridge in the right lane. Claimant estimated the hole to be ten inches deep. The
road had deteriorated since she had driven that route earlier in the week. Damage was done to the
shocks, transmission, and a tire. The automobile also required alignment.
Terry Allen Mellott, who works with the claimant, testified that he drives U.S. Route 50 from
Doddridge County to Bridgeport everyday. He stated that the area was not marked in any way to
warn drivers of the existence of potholes. In December of 1988, he drove that route to work for the
three days prior to claimant's accident and was aware of the hole. He observed another vehicle "...
blow a tire..." at this hole about 10:00 a.m. on the day of claimant's accident.
Richard Alan Brown, maintenance crew leader for the respondent on U.S. Route 50, testified that
a crew had erected warning signs on the bridge on December 21, 1988, and had patched the bridge
with cold mix on December 22, 1988. A "Rough Road" sign and "Speed Advisory" sign with
flashing lights were placed. The signs were located approximately 50 feet before the approach on
both sides of the bridge. They had been erected the afternoon of December 21, 1988, and were
present and functioning on December 22, 1988.
After careful consideration, the Court has determined that the claimant has failed to show the
existence of negligence on the part of the respondent. The record reveals that the respondent
followed the required standard in its erection of signs to warn drivers. Respondent was monitoring
the holes on the bridge in question, and did not have notice of the increase in size of
the hole involving claimant's accident. For that reason, the Court is of the opinion to, and must, deny
Claim is disallowed.