ArticleOpinion of municipal engineer, Richard Balgowan, was featured prominently in this Hartford Courant article describing the settlement agreement for a woman who slipped on ice and fell while crossing an intersection in East Hartford, Ct.
East Hartford Woman Receives $75,000 After Slipping On Ice
By SUZANNE CARLSON, firstname.lastname@example.org
EAST HARTFORD — A woman who was injured in 2009 after slipping on ice has won a $75,000 settlement from the town.
Brenda Rose, 60, of 24 King Court, claimed in a lawsuit filed in 2011 that while crossing an intersection in the town owned King Court housing complex on New Year’s Eve, she tripped and fell twice on icy pavement. Rose claimed that the town was negligent because the roadway was not properly maintained and water had pooled and frozen at the intersection, creating a hazard to pedestrians.
At a meeting Tuesday, town council members voted unanimously to settle the claim for $75,000, saying that the cost of fighting the suit in court might prove far greater.
Council Vice Chairman Bill Horan said Corporation Counsel Scott Chadwick recommended the council accept the settlement because Rose had initially sought a much higher figure.
The $75,000 is “considerably better than taking this matter to a jury and rolling the dice,” Horan said.
The incident occurred at around 1 p.m. at an intersection in front of 78 King Court, according to the lawsuit.
In court documents, a doctor who examined Rose said she suffered muscle and tendon tears in her left shoulder that required surgery. The doctor said Rose had a 17 percent permanent partial disability in the shoulder due to postsurgical pain.
Rose, who is single with children, was unable to continue work as a medical imaging specialist as a result of the injury, according to the lawsuit.
In its defense, the town said that Rose failed to exercise reasonable caution and attempted to have the suit dismissed on the grounds that the claim was too vague. The motion was denied by a judge, who said Rose’s lawsuit was sufficiently detailed.
Rose claimed that the town was aware of the damaged roadway because an orange barrel indicating a hazard had been placed at the intersection, forcing her to cross at an area that was coated with a layer of pooled ice. She filed a handwritten notice of intent to sue in March 2010.
Rose’s lawyer hired an engineer and former public works director from Pennsylvania, Richard M. Balgowan, as an expert to provide testimony that the roadway was improperly maintained by the town. In a report, Balgowan said that the town had placed the orange barrel over a damaged storm drain around which the pavement had settled, preventing water from draining off the road. The result was an area around the intersection in which ice could form and become hazardous to pedestrians, Balgowan said.
Balgowan said he obtained records from the town’s public works department that showed the barrel had been placed at the intersection in March 2009, nine months before Rose’s fall, and was still there at a site inspection in 2011, indicating that the town was aware of the problem but did nothing to correct it.
In a deposition, East Hartford public works employee Frank Cipolla acknowledged that he inspected the intersection in March 2010 after receiving Rose’s notice of intent to sue and the orange barrel was still covering the defective drain. About two inches of snow had fallen the day Rose fell, covering the icy road, and Balgowan said town records showed a plow driver had been assigned to the King Court route that day but didn’t spread sand at the intersection to provide traction.
“There is little chance that town employees and supervisors were not aware of the conditions on King Court,” and the town, “should have taken steps to correct the drainage condition,” Balgowan said.
Content adapted from: http://articles.courant.com/2014-01-22/community/hc-east-hartford-slip-settlement-0123-20140122_1_king-court-intersection-barrel
Richard is an expert in Highway and Municipal Engineering, with more than 35 years of experience working with State DOTs and municipalities. Rich provides investigations, reports, and testimony in matters related to highway and municipal infrastructure design, construction, operations and maintenance.
Prior to joining Robson Forensic, Rich served as the Director of Public Works for Hamilton Township in Mercer County, New Jersey for several years and worked nearly 30 years for the New Jersey Department of Transportation in numerous management and engineering capacities.