ILNews

Torn Achilles tendon is not city’s fault, COA rules

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

A state statute providing immunity to municipalities for 20-year-old public work projects absolved a southern Indiana city from liability for an injury a man incurred when he stepped off a curb and into a sewer drain.

Brad Haskin was visiting the city of Madison for the Madison Regatta. While returning to his rental cottage one evening, he walked between the curb and a parked vehicle, stepped into a trough-shaped gutter and ruptured his Achilles tendon.

Haskin filed a complaint for damages against the city, alleging the municipality was negligent in designing, constructing and maintaining the drain. He also claimed the city failed to warn pedestrians of the potential hazard.

The trial court granted the city’s motion for summary judgment.

Before the Indiana Court of Appeals, the city of Madison argued it had immunity under Indiana Code 34-13-3-3(18), which protects municipalities from liability if the injury occurs at least 20 years after the public work was substantially redesigned. The city also noted the gutter was in good condition and Haskin’s injury was not caused by any deterioration in the drain.
 
Haskin countered that even under the Indiana statute, a governmental entity has a duty to provide public roadways in a reasonably safe condition. In addition, although the city had a lease agreement with Madison Regatta Inc., the city still had control over the street.

“To the extent Haskin claims the City was negligent in the design of the sewer drain and the City had a duty with respect to that claim, we agree with the City that, pursuant to Ind. Code 34-13-3-3-(18), the City was not required to ensure that the design of the curb and sewer drain, which were designed or redesigned at least twenty years prior to Haskin’s injury and were not altered by any resurfacing in 2002, was consistent with current practice or safety standards,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote in Brad Haskin v. City of Madison, Indiana, 39A05-1308-CT-422. “The City was not required to redesign the sewer drain in an effort to incorporate ever-evolving technology.”

The Court of Appeals also found under the terms of a resolution of the Board of Public Works and Safety of the city adopted June 18, 2008, and the lease agreement, Madison Regatta Inc. did have control of the street. The Regatta organization was in the best position to control pedestrian traffic and the condition of the property it leased from the city.  

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
ADVERTISEMENT