OPINION ISSUED NOVEMBER 15, 1999
JOHN C. WITTMAN
DIVISION OF HIGHWAYS
Claimant appeared pro se.
Xueyan Zhang, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
Claimant brought this action for vehicle damage which occurred
as a result of an encounter with a drain cover while traveling
eastbound on Route 892, seven miles from Parkersburg in Wood
County. Route 892 is a road maintained by respondent in Wood
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 June 28,
1998, at approximately 9:00 a.m. Claimant was making a trip to
purchase gas at Powell's General Store, located on Route 892. The
weather was rainy. Adjacent to Route 892 at Powell's General Store
is a drain that is thirty-two feet from the center line. The drain
is located in the parking lot of Powell's General Store. Claimant
knew of the drain but was unaware that on the day in question, the
drain had become uncovered. As claimant was turning his 1993 Dodge
Dakota into the store parking lot when the front tire of his
vehicle struck a drain cover that had become exposed. After
striking the drain cover, claimant's tire burst and the rim was
broken. Claimant observed that there was another person in the
parking lot whose vehicle had also struck the exposed drain cover.
Moreover, claimant was informed by the store owner that the drain
belonged to and was maintained by respondent. Claimant carried
liability insurance coverage only. The resulting damage to
claimant's vehicle was $554.13, for a new tire, rim and
The position of respondent is that it was not responsible for
any damage caused by the drain in question. According to
respondent, its right of way extends twenty feet from the center
line. The drain in question is located thirty-two feet from the
center line. Thus, the drain is outside of respondent's right of
way. Further, there is no evidence of work or maintenance by
respondent on the drain. Neither was there evidence of a permanent
In the present claim, it was established that respondent was
not responsible for the maintenance of the drain adjacent to Route
892. Therefore, in view of the foregoing, the Court is of the
opinion to and does deny this claim.