OPINION ISSUED DECEMBER 6, 1999
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 the alleged negligent maintenance of County Road
10/2 in Belmont. County Road 10/2 is a road maintained by
respondent in Pleasants County. The Court is of the opinion to
make an award in this claim for the reasons more fully stated
The incident giving rise to this claim occurred on January 28,
1999. County Road 10/2 is a third priority, twelve to fourteen
foot, dirt road that is located off of County Route 1 in Pleasants
County. Previously, respondent graded the dead-end road about once
a year because the road was used by hunters. Some time before the
incident, claimant moved to the property located about three-tenths
of a mile on County Road 10/2. From County Road 10/2 to claimant's
residence there has an unpaved drive-way approximately three-tenths
of a mile. Currently, claimant's residence is the farthest
residence down the road.
On the day in question, the road was in a state of disrepair
and was saturated with mud. This state of disrepair made vehicle
travel on the road difficult. As claimant proceeded up a grade in
the road in his 1982 Olds Delta 88, the vehicle's wheels became
stuck in the muddy road. While claimant was attempting to drive
his two-door sedan out of the mud, the vehicle's engine blew up.
Claimant towed the disabled vehicle to his property with the aid of
his truck. At the time of the incident, there were about 89,000
miles on the vehicle's engine. The vehicle currently remains
parked on claimant's property. Claimant bought a Ford Bronco II as
a replacement. Since claimant had a liability insurance policy
only, there was no insurance coverage for this incident. The
resulting loss to claimant was in the amount of $2,152.32.
Respondent acknowledged that County Road 10/2 is a third
priority road and it asserts that it took corrective measures after
receiving notice of the state of disrepair on the road.
This Court previously stated in Barnard vs. Division of
Highways that low priority roads must be maintained in a reasonable
state of repair. Id., 21 Ct. Cl. 103 (1996). As a third priority
dirt road, County Road 10/2 should be maintained in a reasonable
state of repair. However, the Court is of the opinion that
respondent failed to maintain County Road 10/2 in a reasonable state of repair. Respondent knew that the road had been used by
hunters and that the hunters' vehicles made ruts in the road. For
this reason, respondent would grade the road, especially since
there were other families in the location in question that needed
to be able to use the road. Simply put, respondent allowed County
Road 10/2 to become a muddy mess. Unfortunately, the deterioration
of the road was the proximate cause of claimant's vehicular damage,
and this is sufficient evidence of negligence upon which to base an
In view of the foregoing, the Court is of the opinion to and
does make an award in this claim to claimant in the amount of
$275.00, the blue book value of his vehicle.
Award of $275.00.