BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — After being directed to use 69th Street North in Wahouma as an alternate route by police in the area in 2019, Robert Walker hit a massive pothole that caused over $2,000 worth of damage to his vehicle.
Walker sued the City of Birmingham over the damage and argued his own case in two courts, winning both. But, despite the wins, Walker hasn’t received a dime from the city.
“When I told the city that I damaged my car because of a pothole on the street, they told me that this wasn’t a street,” Walker said.
The city sent him a letter stating that 69th Street North was an alley, and that they would have no way of knowing that a hazard exists unless its bought to their attention. After a trip to City Hall, Walker found out that the area in question was, in fact, a street.
“The police use it a lot, the trash and brush people use it a lot,” Walker said.
After Walker won in small claims court, the city filed motions to appeal he judges order and take the case to district court. In May, District Court Judge Donald Blankenship ordered the City of Birmingham to pay Walker the amount he was owed. On June 12, the City filed yet another motion to amend, alter or vacate the order.
This time, the city is citing section 11-47-190 of Alabama Code that states:
“No city or town shall be liable for damages for injury done to or wrong suffered by any person or corporation, unless such injury or wrong was done or suffered through the neglect, carelessness, or unskillfulness of some agent, officer, or employee of the municipality engaged in work therefor and while acting in the line of his or her duty, or unless the said injury or wrong was done or suffered through the neglect or carelessness or failure to remedy some defect in the streets, alleys, public ways, or buildings after the same had been called to the attention of the council or other governing body or after the same had existed for such an unreasonable length of time as to raise a presumption of knowledge of such defect on the part of the council or other governing body and whenever the city or town shall be made liable for damages by reason of the unauthorized or wrongful acts or negligence, carelessness, or unskillfulness of any person or corporation, then such person or corporation shall be liable to an action on the same account by the party so injured.”AL Code § 11-47-190 (2019)
They are relying on data from the 3-1-1 call center to support the claim that they had no actual notice of the pothole at the time of the damage to Walker’s car.
Revisiting the site more than thee years later, the pothole is still present and has even grown in size. Walker wonders why it has not yet been repaired.
“So when it comes down to potholes and other kinds of damages, City Hall will just stretch it out until you just walk away from it.. but I’m not going to walk away from it. They’re going to pay me,” Walker said.
CBS 42 reached out to the city of Birmingham and was told that “as a matter of policy, the city does not discuss pending litigation.”
A court order later denied the city’s citation of the aforementioned Alabama Code:
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