OPINION ISSUED DECEMBER 6, 1999
HERBERT NEIL HUGHART
DIVISION OF HIGHWAYS
Claimant appeared pro se.
Andrew F. Tarr, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
Claimant brought this action for vehicle damage which occurred
as a result of his vehicle striking debris while he was traveling
westbound on Interstate 64. Interstate 64 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 December 2,
1998, at about 9:00 p.m. On the clear and dry night in question,
claimant was traveling westbound on Interstate 64, near milepost 56
in South Charleston, Kanawha County. At this location of
Interstate 64, there are three travel lanes in each direction.
Claimant was proceeding on Interstate 64 in the center lane at a
speed of about sixty miles per hour as moderate flow traffic went
around his vehicle. There was a distance of one-hundred-fifty to
two-hundred feet between claimant's vehicle and other vehicles on
the road. When a vehicle in front of claimant's vehicle changed
lanes, he had no indication of any debris or trouble on the
interstate. Claimant then saw debris on the highway. Claimant
could not avoid the debris and his 1997 Buick Park Avenue struck
and went through the debris. The unidentifiable debris was
approximately the height of the vehicle's hood and about four to
six feet wide. After the accident, claimant went to the South
Charleston Police Department and filed an accident report. While
there, claimant was informed by the South Charleston Police
Department that respondent was on its way to clear the debris. The
resulting damage to claimant's vehicle was in the amount of
$1,000.80. Claimant had a deductible feature of $250.00 in his
insurance policy coverage which would limit any recovery to this
Respondent denied prior knowledge of the debris in question.
According to respondent's daily records, emergency service was
dispatched to the site, where a piece of Styrofoam was found. The
Styrofoam was immediately cleared off of the road. Nothing further
was found in the area.
The evidence adduced at the September 3, 1999, hearing
established that respondent had no notice that debris on Interstate
64 posed a hazard to the traveling public. Respondent sent
employees to the scene as soon as it received notice of the
situation. The Court, while understanding the distress caused to claimant in this situation, is of the opinion that respondent acted
reasonably in response to notice of the debris on the interstate,
and that respondent was not negligent in its maintenance of the
In view of the foregoing, the Court hereby denies this claim.