Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Peter Ross v. Ohio Department of Transportation

July 19, 2011

PETER ROSS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, DEFENDANT.



Cite as Ross 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

{¶1} Plaintiff, Peter Ross, filed this action against defendant, Department of Transportation (ODOT), contending his 2010 Honda Insight was damaged as a proximate result of negligence on the part of ODOT personnel in maintaining a hazardous condition on I-271 in Summit County. In his complaint, plaintiff provided a narrative description of his damage event recording he was traveling north on I-271, "when we hit a large pothole that was too big to avoid. The pothole caused our left-front tire to blow out and shred." Plaintiff recalled the particular damage incident occurred on March 5, 2011, at approximately 10:00 a.m. Plaintiff requested damages in the amount of $169.13, the total cost of a replacement tire and reimbursement of the filing fee. The $25.00 filing fee was paid.

{¶2} Defendant denied liability based on the contention that no ODOT personnel had any knowledge of the particular damage-causing pothole prior to plaintiff's March 5, 2011 described occurrence. Defendant located the pothole "near state milepost 28.25 or county milepost 6.26 on I-271 in Cuyahoga County." Defendant argued plaintiff did not provide any evidence to establish the length of time the particular

pothole was present on the roadway prior to March 5, 2011. Defendant suggested, "it is more likely than not that the pothole existed in that location for only a relatively short amount of time before plaintiff's incident."

{¶3} Furthermore, defendant contended plaintiff did not offer any evidence to prove the roadway was negligently maintained. Defendant related the ODOT "Cuyahoga County Manager conducts roadway inspections on all state roadways within the county on a routine basis, at least one to two times a month." Apparently, no potholes were discovered in the vicinity of plaintiff's incident on I-271 the last time that section of roadway was inspected prior to March 5, 2011. Defendant's maintenance records show "no pothole patching operations were conducted in the northbound direction" in the vicinity of plaintiff's incident in the six months preceding March 5, 2011.

{¶4} Plaintiff did not file a response.

{¶5} For plaintiff to prevail on a claim of negligence, he must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that defendant owed him a duty, that it breached that duty, and that the breach proximately caused his 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. However, "[i]t is the duty of a party on whom the burden of proof rests to produce evidence which furnishes a reasonable basis for sustaining his claim. If the evidence so produced furnishes only a basis for a choice among different possibilities as to any issue in the case, he fails to sustain such burden." Paragraph three of the syllabus in Steven v. Indus. Comm. (1945), 145 Ohio St. 198, 30 O.O. 415, 61 N.E. 2d 198, approved and followed.

{¶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} In order to prove a breach of the duty to maintain the highways, plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that defendant 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 defendant had actual notice of the pothole on I-271 prior to the morning of March 5, 2011.

{¶8} Therefore, to find liability plaintiff must prove ODOT had constructive notice of the defect. The trier of fact is precluded from making an inference of defendant's constructive notice, unless evidence is presented in respect to the time the defective condition developed. Spires v. Ohio Highway Department (1988), 61 Ohio Misc. 2d 262, 577 N.E. 2d 458.

{¶9} In order for there to be constructive notice, plaintiff must show sufficient time has elapsed after the dangerous condition appears, so that under the circumstances defendant should have acquired knowledge of its existence. Guiher v. Dept. of Transportation (1978), 78-0126-AD. Size of the defect is insufficient to show notice or duration of existence. O'Neil v. Department of Transportation (1988), 61 Ohio Misc. 2d 287, 587 N.E. 2d 891. "A finding of constructive notice is a determination the court must make on the facts of each case not simply by applying a pre-set time standard for the discovery of certain road hazards." Bussard, at 4. "Obviously, the requisite length of time sufficient to constitute constructive notice varies with each specific situation." Danko v. Ohio Dept. of Transp. (Feb. 4, 1993), Franklin App. 92AP- 1183. There is insufficient evidence to show defendant had constructive notice of the pothole.

{ΒΆ10} Generally, in order to recover in a suit involving damage proximately caused by roadway conditions including potholes, plaintiff must prove that either: 1) defendant had actual or constructive notice of the potholes and failed to respond in a reasonable time or responded in a negligent manner, or 2) that defendant, in a general sense, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.