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West Virginia Court of Claims

Volume Number: 29
Opinion Issued February 14, 2013
     Claimant appeared pro se.
     Andrew F. Tarr, Attorney at Law, for Respondent.
      Claimant, Evelyn Moneypenny, brought this action for vehicle damage which occurred when her 2008 Chevrolet Impala struck a foreign object while traveling along Sycamore Road in Clarksburg, Harrison County. Sycamore Road is a public road maintained by Respondent. The Court is of the opinion to make an award in this claim for the reasons more fully stated below.
      The incident giving rise to this claim occurred at approximately 4:00 p.m. on September 3, 2011. Claimant testified that while she was driving along Sycamore Road she encountered a large truck and was forced to the berm of the road. As Claimant entered the berm of the roadway, her vehicle struck a concrete block. Claimant stated that Sycamore Road is in a state of bad disrepair, because of the increased truck traffic associated with oil and gas extraction in the area. As a result of its contact with the concrete block, Claimant’s vehicle sustained damage to its wheel alignment in the amount of $230.04. Claimant carried only liability insurance at the time of the incident.
      The position of Respondent is that it did not have actual or constructive notice of the concrete block along Sycamore Road on the date of the incident.
      The well-established principle of law in West Virginia is that the State is neither an insurer nor a guarantor of the safety of travelers upon its roads. Adkins v. Sims, 130 W.Va. 645, 46 S.E.2d 81 (1947). In order to hold the Respondent liable for road defects of this type, the Claimant must prove that the Respondent had actual or constructive notice of the defect and a reasonable amount of time to take corrective action. Pritt v. Dep’t of Highways, 16 Ct. Cl. 8 (1985); Chapman v. Dep’t of Highways, 16 Ct. Cl. 103 (1986).
      In the instant case, the Court is of the opinion that Respondent had, at the least, constructive notice of the concrete block which the Claimant’s vehicle struck and that the object presented a hazard to the traveling public. Since Respondent has admitted to this Court that it is aware of the deleterious effect that increased oil and gas production has on our State’s roads, the Court finds that Respondent was negligent. Thus, Claimant may make a recovery for the damage to her vehicle.
      It is the opinion of the Court of Claims Claimant should be awarded the sum of $230.04.
      Award of $230.04.

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