OPINION ISSUED DECEMBER 6, 1999
ROBERT L. BRATTON
DIVISION OF HIGHWAYS
Claimant appeared pro se.
Xueyan Zhang, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
Claimant brought this action for vehicle damage from striking
a crown at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue (U. S. 119) and
Quarrier Street in Charleston. Pennsylvania Avenue is a road
maintained by respondent in Kanawha County. The Court is of the
opinion to deny this claim for the reasons more fully stated below.
The incident giving rise to this claim occurred on March 27,
1998, at about 5:00 p.m. After crossing Pennsylvania Avenue,
Quarrier Street becomes Randolph Street. Pennsylvania Avenue is
maintained by the State while Randolph Street is maintained by the
City of Charleston. From Quarrier Street to Randolph Street is
one-hundred twenty to one-hundred thirty feet. As one crosses the
intersection at this point, claimant alleges that there is a
pronounced crown on Pennsylvania Avenue, which caused the damage to
On the clear day in question, claimant was traveling westbound on
Quarrier Street, proceeding to his residence from his place of
employment. Claimant was traveling at the speed limit of thirty
miles per hour in his 1962 Austin Healy 3000, a short wheel-based
vehicle. As claimant's vehicle crossed the intersection of
Pennsylvania Avenue and Quarrier Street, his vehicle crossed the
crown on Pennsylvania Avenue and then went nose first into the dip,
with the front of his vehicle striking the surface of the road.
The collision caused claimant's vehicle to bounce, which in turn
caused his forearm to move the gear shift lever, resulting in the
transmission being put into reverse, destroying the transmission.
After the incident, claimant alleges that he pushed his 1,875 pound
vehicle to Wyoming Street, approximately one and a half blocks from
Randolph StreetWhile claimant contends that he was at this
location, the receipt from the towing bill states that the location
of the vehicle was at the intersection of Ohio and Wyoming Streets,
which are streets maintained by the City of Charleston. .
Afterwards, claimant inspected his vehicle. Claimant observed
that the linkage was intact but saw scars underneath the vehicle
from the impact of the road. The vehicle was insured under a
liability insurance policy, but there was no insurance coverage for
this incident. Claimant's out-of-pocket expenses were $797.40.
Specifically, the expenses reflect a $50.00 towing bill and $747.40
in repair work to the transmission.
The position of the respondent was that the incident did not occur on a road that it maintained. An on-site inspection of
Pennsylvania Avenue by the chief inspector for respondent, an
eighteen year veteran, revealed that there was no pronounced crown
on Pennsylvania Avenue. Rather, there is a pronounced crown on
Randolph Street. According to respondent, Randolph Street starting
at and including Quarrier Street, belongs to the City of
Charleston. No changes have been made to Pennsylvania Avenue since
March 27, 1998. Also, there have been no other complaints
regarding a crown on Pennsylvania Avenue.
After a review of the evidence adduced at the June 11, 1999,
hearing and a view of the intersection by the Court, the Court is
of the opinion that there is a pronounced crown at the intersection
in question. However, the change in grade at this intersection is
not unlike other West Virginia roads. While the Court is
sympathetic to claimant's predicament, the Court is unwilling to
declare the change in grade at the intersection of Pennsylvania
Avenue and Quarrier Street to constitute negligence on respondent's
part. The opinion of the Court is that the intersection was
reasonably maintained. Respondent can not be required to build
West Virginia roads to suit specialty vehicles such as that of
claimant. Otherwise, a undue burden would be placed on the State.
Consequently, there is insufficient evidence of negligence on which
to base an award.
In view of the foregoing, the Court hereby denies this claim.