West Virginia Legislative Claims Commission

Volume Number: 30
Opinion Issued August 27, 2013
     Meridith O. Johnstone, Attorney at Law, for Claimant.
     Michael J. Folio, Attorney at Law, for Respondent.
      On this day came the Claimant, Travis E. Martin, by counsel, Meridith O. Johnstone and The Tinney Law Firm, PLLC, and the Respondent, the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways, by counsel, Michael J. Folio, and announced to the Court that the parties stipulate to the following:
      1. On August 22, 2009, the Claimant, Travis E. Martin, was operating a motorcycle on West Virginia State Route 62 in Mason County, West Virginia. The Claimant alleges that while operating the motorcycle he encountered a pothole in the roadway, lost control of his motorcycle, struck the roadside guardrail, and sustained injury.
      2. The Claimant alleges that the pothole or roadway disrepair caused and/or contributed to his wreck and injuries.
      3. The Respondent alleges that Claimant’s inexperience operating a motorcycle and/or other driving error caused and/or contributed to his wreck and injuries.
      4. As a direct result of Claimant’s wreck, Claimant sustained significant injuries and was transported by helicopter for emergency medical treatment. The Claimant sustained damages in excess of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).
      5. The parties recognize that this disputed factual issue is a triable issue for resolution by the Court. However, given the Claimant’s injuries and significant damages, coupled with the mutual uncertainty of the outcome of any trial, the parties agree that it is in their best interests and in the interest of judicial economy to resolve this matter for the total sum of Sixty Thousand Dollars ($60,000.00) to be paid by Respondent to the claimant in the above-captioned claim and that such payment shall be a full and complete settlement; a compromise and resolution of all matters in controversy between the parties; and a full and complete satisfaction of any and all past and future claims that the Claimant may have against the Respondent arising from the matters described in said claim, inclusive of all claims or demands that any heirs, subrogees, beneficiaries, distributees, representatives, devisees, interested persons, wards, and the like (whether known or unknown) could assert or could have asserted against the Respondent. Further, the Claimant agrees that he shall be solely responsible for all subrogation claims or liens related to this claim and agrees to defend, protect, and indemnify Respondent from and against any such claims or liens.
      6. The parties jointly request that the Court of Claims approve this settlement and include this claim in the next claims bill for approval and appropriation by the West Virginia Legislature.
      The Court has reviewed the facts of the claim and finds that Respondent was negligent in its maintenance of State Route 62 on the date of this incident; that the negligence of Respondent was the proximate cause of the damages sustained by Claimant and to his property; and that the amount of damages agreed to by the parties is fair and reasonable. Thus, Claimant may make a recovery for the damage.
      The Court of Claims has been advised generally of the pending subrogation claims and/or liens asserted against the Claimant arising from the facts alleged in this claim. It is the Court’s understanding that Claimant’s counsel has resolved these claims and/or liens subject to the Court’s approval of the settlement between the parties. Because monies to resolve claims against state agencies must be appropriated by the West Virginia Legislature, the Court will include this claim for approval by the West Virginia Legislature in the claims bill to be considered by the Legislature during its 2014 regular session, and, if approved, monies will be appropriated during fiscal year 2014, or on or about August 2014.
      Based on the foregoing, it is the opinion of the Court of Claims that the Claimant should be awarded the sum of $60,000.00 in this claim.
      Award of $60,000.00.

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