FACTS: Dewitt, 12 at the time of the incident complained of, was riding her bicycle in a local street when she navigated her bicycle over a large water drainage grate maintained by the City of Hannibal. Her front bicycle tire allegedly caught in the grate, causing her to fall from her bicycle and suffer physical injuries including a fractured nose, busted teeth causing her to lose five teeth, and have scarring on her face.
Dewitt claimed the City of Hannibal was negligent in utilizing the “outdated” drain cover and as evidence of this alleged negligence was allowed to introduce evidence of other drain covers in and around other parts of the city. DeWitt claimed that drain constituted a “dangerous condition” of which the City should have known, but failed to remedy.
James Godfrey, Member, countered that the drain cover was appropriate for the intended use in an area that sustains heavy water saturation and that the drain cover (situated in the street gutter on a road Ms. Dewitt was prohibited by her parents from navigating) was an “open and obvious” condition that a 12 year old of reasonable intelligence should know to avoid. Further, Godfrey cross examined witness accounts to challenge whether the accident had even happened as alleged.
FINDINGS: The Jury assessed 0% Fault to the City of Hannibal and 100% Fault to Plaintiff Sarah DeWitt, resulting in a Judgment in favor of the City of Hannibal.
James Godfrey, Member, and Katherine Smith, Senior Associate represented the client, City of Hannibal.