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Jill C. Parks v. Ohio Department of Transportation

July 19, 2011

JILL C. PARKS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, DEFENDANT.



Cite as

Parks v. Ohio Dept. of Transp.,

The Ohio Judicial Center 65 South Front Street, Third Floor Columbus, OH 43215 614.387.9800 or 1.800.824.8263 www.cco.state.oh.us

Acting Clerk Daniel R. Borchert

MEMORANDUM DECISION

FINDINGS OF FACT

{¶1} In her complaint, plaintiff, Jill Parks, relates that on February 7, 2011, at approximately 6:55 a.m., she was "[d]riving to work on I75 S and hit a huge pothole on the interstate in the left lane. This pothole was in the left lane in line with the driver's side of the car and was so large that it was unavoidable." In addition, plaintiff asserts the "incident occurred on I75 S between Mitchell and 74." Plaintiff suffered damage to the left front tire and rim from the impact.

{¶2} Plaintiff filed this complaint seeking to recover $200.59, the cost of a replacement tire and wheel and related repair expenses. Plaintiff asserted she incurred these damages as a proximate result of negligence on the part of defendant, Department of Transportation (DOT), in maintaining the roadway. The $25.00 filing fee was paid.

{¶3} Defendant located the pothole between mileposts 4.4 and 6.46 on I-75 in Hamilton County. According to defendant, two complaints regarding potholes near this location were received, one on December 31, 2010, which was repaired the same day, and another on February 7, 2011, which was repaired on February 11, 2011.

{¶4} Defendant explained DOT employees conduct roadway inspections on all state roadways within the county on a routine basis, "at least two times a month." Defendant denied DOT employees were negligent in regard to roadway maintenance.

{¶5} Plaintiff did not file a response.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

{¶6} Defendant has the duty to maintain its highways in a reasonably safe condition for the motoring public. Knickel v. Ohio Department of Transportation (1976), 49 Ohio App. 2d 335, 3 O.O. 3d 413, 361 N.E. 2d 486. However, defendant is not an insurer of the safety of its highways. See Kniskern v. Township of Somerford (1996), 112 Ohio App. 3d 189, 678 N.E. 2d 273; Rhodus v. Ohio Dept. of Transp. (1990), 67 Ohio App. 3d 723, 588 N.E. 2d 864.

{¶7} For plaintiff to prevail on a claim of negligence, she must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that defendant owed her a duty, that it breached that duty, and that the breach proximately caused her injuries. Armstrong v. Best Buy Company, Inc., 99 Ohio St. 3d 79, 2003-Ohio-2573,¶ 8 citing Menifee v. Ohio Welding Products, Inc. (1984), 15 Ohio St. 3d 75, 77, 15 OBR 179, 472 N.E. 2d 707. To prove a breach of duty by defendant to maintain the highways plaintiff must establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that DOT had actual or constructive notice of the precise condition or defect alleged to have caused the accident. McClellan v. ODOT (1986), 34 Ohio App. 3d 247, 517 N.E. 2d 1388. Defendant is only liable for roadway

conditions of which it has notice, but fails to reasonably correct. Bussard v. Dept. of Transp. (1986), 31 Ohio Misc. 2d 1, 31 OBR 64, 507 N.E. 2d 1179. There is no evidence that defendant had actual notice of the pothole. Therefore, for the court to find liability on a notice ...


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