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Road Injury Prevention & Litigation Journal
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Articles - October, 1997

October 1, 1997
Ohio Defendants Owed No "Special Duty" When Vandal Dropped Road Construction Debris Off Bridge; Third-Party Criminal Action Was Intervening Cause

Driving through a construction site, Roland Feichtner was forced to the shoulder of the freeway. As Feichtner passed under a bridge, Ronald Jackson dropped a rock from the bridge into the passenger side of Feichtner's vehicle. Feichtner's wife died as a result of the incident. Feichtner sued the city of Cleveland, Ohio (city) and several contractors associated with the freeway construction project and with a nearby project from which Jackson took the rock. The Common Pleas Court of Cuyahoga County granted all defendants summary judgment. When Feichtner appealed, the Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that: "(1) defendants owed no 'special duty' to wife, and (2) motorist was not entitled to extension of time to obtain discovery from new party- defendant."


October 1, 1997
Ohio DOT Negligent in Failing to Install Fencing on Freeway Overpass in a Timely Manner

A motorist died because a cement block thrown or dropped off a freeway overpass struck him in the head. The administrator of the motorist's estate sued the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), claiming ODOT owed a duty to the deceased motorist to carry out in a timely manner its policy on fencing overpasses. ODOT had a policy requiring protective fencing for overpasses that scored within a certain range on an instrument to decide which overpasses were appropriate for fencing. The policy had been in place for more than five years, and the overpass at which the motorist died had a score justifying fencing, but ODOT had not installed fencing. The Court of Claims granted immunity to ODOT. The administrator appealed, and the Court of Appeals of Franklin County affirmed the decision for ODOT. On a second appeal, the Supreme Court reversed and found ODOT negligent. The Supreme Court remanded the case for award decision.


October 1, 1997
Injured Montana Pedestrian Did Not Show Slippery Metal Cover on Sidewalk Was a Breach of Duty

A pedestrian in Glendive, Montana received injury when she slipped on a metal pullbox cover on the sidewalk. The pedestrian and her husband sued the Montana Department of Transportation (state) and the City of Glendive (city), claiming both state and city were negligent in allowing the dangerous condition created by the slippery cover to exist on their sidewalk. The District Court, Seventh Judicial District, County of Dawson granted the state's and the city's motions for summary judgment. The Supreme Court of Montana affirmed, holding that the plaintiffs did not provide evidence the slippery condition of the pullbox cover failed to meet any applicable standard, and, therefore, the plaintiffs did not show a breach of duty on the parts of the state and the city.


October 1, 1997
Louisiana DOT Assigned Some Fault for Injuries to Worker Forced to Cross Highway from Parking Lot to Work

The parking lot for construction workers was on one side of a five-lane highway and the plant at which they worked on the other. When a car hit a worker crossing the highway from the lot to work in the early morning darkness, the injured worker sued the driver of the vehicle, the plant at which he was working, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). A jury in the Fourth District Court of the Parish of Ouachita found the worker and the driver each 25 percent at fault. The jury assigned 40 percent fault to the owner of the plant and 10 percent to the DOTD. The plant owner and the DOTD appealed. Finding the plant owner negligent for failing to provide the employee safe access to the plant and the DOTD negligent in its installation of the crosswalk, the Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Second Circuit upheld the lower court's assignment of fault. The appellate court, however, amended the lower court's decision on apportioning of court costs, determining court costs must be divided according to the same percentages as the damages.


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