Tennessee liable for $20,000 in injuries sustained by Cleveland, Tenn., bicyclist, appeals court rules

Tennessee liable for $20,000 in injuries sustained by Cleveland, Tenn., bicyclist, appeals court rules

July 29th, 2011 by Staff Report in News

A metal drainage grate.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

The state of Tennessee is liable for more than $20,000 in injuries sustained by a Cleveland, Tenn., bicyclist whose wheels fell through a metal drainage grate, the Tennessee Court of Appeals at Knoxville ruled Thursday.

Plaintiff Beth L. Wineland suffered a broken nose and jaw and serious facial lacerations and damaged four teeth in the summer of 2006 while riding along Highway 60 in Cleveland, Tenn., the facts of the case show. The front wheel of her road bike slipped between the bars of the grate, which run parallel to the direction of traffic.

Wineland contended the "old-style" grate constituted a dangerous condition and alleged negligence in maintaining the highway.

The Circuit Court for Bradley County found that neither the state nor Cleveland had a duty to change the grate and dismissed the case.

The appeals court, however, found the state had known of the danger posed by such grates as early as 1990 and mentioned it in a long-range plan introduced at the trial. The court ruled that was enough notice for the state to have corrected the problem and remanded the case for determination of damages to be awarded to Wineland.