OPINION ISSUED JUNE 8, 2000
MICHAEL FREYMAN, SR.
DIVISION OF HIGHWAYS
Claimant appeared pro se.
Andrew F. Tarr, Attorney at Law, for respondent.
Claimant brought this action for vehicle damage sustained when
his daughter was driving his vehicle on I-81 and she drove over
debris that had fallen from the Rock Cliff Drive Bridge.At the
April 20, 2000, hearing, the Court amended the styling of the claim
to reflect the fact that Mr. Freyman, Sr., was the sole owner of
the vehicle. The Rock Cliff Drive Bridge over this portion of
I-81 is maintained by respondent in Berkeley County. The Court is
of the opinion to make an award in this claim for the reasons more
fully set forth below.
The incident giving rise to this claim occurred on May 14,
1999, at approximately 5:45 p.m. On the evening in question,
claimant's daughter, Michelle Freyman, along with her five-year old
son, were traveling in his 1989 full size Chevrolet pick-up truck
in the right lane of I-81 from Hedgesville to Martinsburg at a
speed of about fifty miles per hour. Ms. Freyman took her usual
route to her place of employment and as she approached the Rock
Cliff Drive Bridge she noticed debris from the bridge in her lane
of travel. Ms. Freyman maneuvered the vehicle from the right lane
onto the berm area to avoid debris on the road surface. When she
drove back to the left onto the road surface, the vehicle went over
several different pieces of debris. The debris caused damage to
both tires on the passenger side of the vehicle and damaged the
front of the vehicle. After this incident, three employees of
respondent came upon the scene and assisted Ms. Freyman. In a
letter dated June 16, 1999, the employees acknowledged that at the
time of the incident concrete had fallen onto the roadway and that
bridge work had been conducted by respondent. While claimant
sustained a loss in the amount of $858.31, he has a deductible
feature of $100.00 in his motor vehicle insurance policy and any
recovery would be limited to this amount. Sommerville et al. vs.
Div. of Highways, 18 Ct. Cl. 110 (1991).
The position of respondent was that it did not have notice of
the disrepair of the Rock Cliff Drive Bridge in Berkeley County.
While respondent acknowledged that the concrete on the road surface
was from a deteriorated lip on the bridge, its employees responded
immediately to the scene when it had notice of the bridge debris.
Prior to this incident, respondent maintained that it had no
knowledge of the condition of the bridge.
When respondent fails to exercise reasonable care and diligence in the maintenance of a bridge, a claimant may be
entitled to recover for a sustained loss. Anderson vs. Div. of
Highways, 21 Ct. Cl. 131 (1996).
In the present claim, the evidence adduced at the April 20,
2000, hearing established that respondent was negligent in its
maintenance of the Rock Cliff Drive Bridge in Berkeley County. The
Court is of the opinion that respondent was aware that work had
been on-going on the bridge and it should have been aware of the
dangerous road condition posed by the condition of the bridge.
Consequently, there is sufficient evidence upon which to base an
In accordance with the findings of fact and conclusions of law
stated herein above, the Court is of the opinion to and does make
an award in this claim.
Award of $100.00.