Sunday, December 21, 2008

Problems with pothole map

The Pothole Law — passed in 1979 to make it harder for people to sue — protects the city from liability for injuries to people who trip or fall on sidewalks that are “out of repair, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed,” unless a written notice of the defect has been provided to the city’s Department of Transportation at least 15 days before the accident. Previously, the injured person only had to show, usually through witnesses, that the crack or hole or protrusion had been there long enough for the city to be able to fix it.

In response, in 1982, the trial lawyers set up the Big Apple Pothole and Sidewalk Protection Committee, which hires workers to scour the city’s nearly 10,000 miles of streets and document potholes and other defects.

The committee started to supply thousands of maps to the city, documenting hundreds of thousands of purported defects. “The city initially refused to accept the maps as evidence of the required notice, but the lawyers sued — what else? — and won,” Joseph P. Fried wrote in The Times in 1993.


Pothole Map Inadequate for Lawsuits, Court Finds

On Thursday, in a pair of cases, the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, ruled that the map was “not sufficient notice” under the Pothole Law.

The map uses coded symbols to represent defects. “For example, a straight line is used for a raised or uneven portion of a sidewalk, a circle for a hole or hazardous depression, a line with a triangle at each end for an extended section of cracks and holes in a sidewalk, and so forth,” Judge Robert S. Smith wrote in his opinion for the court’s majority.

3 comments:

Taxpayer said...

Isn't it odd that the city can fine a property owner for a defective sidewalk (or send a crew to make "repair's" at rip-off prices, billing the property owner for the so-called repair).

Now, just how does the city discover those defects?

But, when it comes to the city's responsibility to fix defects on city-owned property, the city is incapable of spotting potholes, cracks, or any other hazards.

These judges need to be impeached for imbecility. If a map with imprecise symbols is delivered to the city, why can't the responsible agency perform the simple task of taking a peek at the "controversial" symbol?

Recently, Commissar Death and Taxes boasted of the scooter driving city employees looking for such defects as well as graffiti, rotting trees, and all sorts of problems. Being "proactive" in management-speak.

One of these scooters drive right over a pothole at an intersection by my home every time I watched him drive past (at a speed far to rapid for the driver to be noticing anything). Finally I flagged him down to point the pothole out to him. He wasn't very interested. He wrote nothing down. After my 4th or 5th call to 311, the DOT came to make repairs.

So, the city has the capacity to verify every single report of a pothole or sidewalk defect. The fact that it claims it cannot interpret the maps, and refuses to verify the maps is a sign of bad faith that the imbecilic judges should have noted.

I certainly hope that the victims appeal to federal courts.

joe from wp said...

pot holes do you want to see potholes go to willets point you'll see pot holes

Lino stepping over cracks said...

"..in 1982, the trial lawyers set up the Big Apple Pothole and Sidewalk Protection Committee".

That's really all that need be said.

This wasn't some altruistic act, it was a cynical, ambulance-chasing scheme to soak the (self insuring) city. City officials changed the law several years ago to make it a landlord's responsibility to sidewalks on it's frontage. that did two things: Slightly improved walkway conditions and, reduced the limitless pot of money the sharks,,,lawyers could avail.