City of Richmond v. Holt, Record No. 011742.

Docket NºRecord No. 011742.
Citation563 S.E.2d 690, 264 Va. 101
Case DateJune 07, 2002
CourtSupreme Court of Virginia

563 S.E.2d 690
264 Va. 101

CITY OF RICHMOND
v.
Junne-Anne HOLT

Record No. 011742.

Supreme Court of Virginia.

June 7, 2002.


563 S.E.2d 691
William Joe Hoppe (Phillip L. Hairston; Office of City Atty., on brief), Richmond, for appellant

Catherine A. Lee (Antonio Q.L. Rhodes; Coates & Davenport, on brief), Richmond, for appellee.

Present: All the Justices.

Opinion by Justice BARBARA MILANO KEENAN.

In this appeal of a judgment in favor of a plaintiff in a personal injury action, the primary issue is whether the evidence was sufficient to establish constructive notice to a municipality of a defect in a municipal right-of-way adjoining a public street.

We state the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Junne-Anne Holt, the prevailing party in the trial court. Tashman v. Gibbs, 263 Va. 65, 68, 556 S.E.2d 772, 774 (2002); City of Bedford v. Zimmerman, 262 Va. 81, 83, 547 S.E.2d 211, 212 (2001). At a jury trial, the evidence showed that Holt sustained injuries when she fell after stepping into a hole in a "grassy area" located near the curb of a public street. The grassy area was within the boundaries of a right-of-way adjoining the street, and was owned and controlled by the City of Richmond (the City).

About 9:00 p.m. on October 28, 1997, Holt left her church at the intersection of Oakland Avenue and Columbia Street. She crossed Oakland Avenue and walked along Columbia

563 S.E.2d 692
Street to return to a car driven by her friend, Evelyn Hyde, who had taken Holt to church. Because there was no "off-street" parking available for those attending the church, Hyde parked her vehicle one block from the church on Columbia Street

The church was located on a city block that was bordered by a paved sidewalk. Although the adjacent block where Hyde parked her vehicle did not have a paved sidewalk, a crosswalk connected the two blocks for use by pedestrians crossing Oakland Avenue. This crosswalk led directly to the grassy area along the curb of the block where Hyde parked her vehicle.

It was dark outside as Holt walked along Columbia Street to Hyde's vehicle. Holt was holding in her arms her ten-month-old grandson, her coat, her purse, and a diaper bag.

Holt walked in front of Hyde's car and stepped onto the grassy area alongside the curb to enter the vehicle through a passenger-side door. As Holt entered the grassy area, she stepped into a hole and fell to the ground. The hole was four to six inches deep and covered Holt's foot up to her ankle. The hole had some grass growing in it and was located about two to five feet away from the curb. As a result of her fall, Holt sustained various injuries, including fractures to both her legs.

Holt filed a motion for judgment against the City alleging, among other things, that she was injured as a result of the City's negligence. At trial, she testified that she had attended church in the same location for about 15 years, and that she was not aware of the hole before her fall. Holt stated that she never parked on the side of the street where the hole was located. She further testified that when she stepped into the hole she was not looking "[a]nywhere in particular."

Erika L. Holliday, a member of Holt's church for about 19 years, testified that church members regularly walked in the grassy area where the hole was located when they parked along that section of Columbia Street. Holliday stated that she personally observed a person trip "over the hole" between eight months and one year before Holt's fall. Holliday further testified that the hole could not be seen in the dark because it was shallow and grass had begun to grow in the hole. She stated that the hole resulted from the removal of a mailbox at that location between three and five years before Holt's fall.

Barbara J. Welch, who also attended Holt's church, testified that both her children had tripped and fallen in the hole two or more years before Holt fell. Welch stated that the hole "had grass on it, and you really didn't know it was there until you got there." She also stated that the church members regularly walked over the grassy area where the hole was located.

Ray Bohannon, the Maintenance and Claims Examiner for the City's Department of Public Works, testified that the City did not have any procedures for routinely inspecting its sidewalks and pathways. He also testified that the City provided maintenance to Oakland Avenue and Columbia Street because they are public streets. At the conclusion of Holt's case, the City made a motion to strike the evidence, which the trial court took under advisement.

The City presented the testimony of Ethel A. Williams, who had attended Holt's church for about 25 years. Williams testified that she occasionally parked her vehicle near the area where Holt fell, and that she had not seen the hole before Holt's accident. Williams also testified that a public mailbox was previously located in the general area where Holt fell.

After resting its case, the City renewed its motion to strike the evidence. At that time, the following exchange occurred between the City's counsel and the trial court:

THE COURT: I'll take it under advisement. Your motion is that they haven't
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6 practice notes
  • Washington v. Com., Record No. 051875.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 15 Septiembre 2006
    ...findings required by Code § 19.2-297.1, we cannot consider Washington's assignment of error on this issue. See City of Richmond v. Holt, 264 Va. 101, 108 n. *, 563 S.E.2d 690, 694 n. * III. CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, we will affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals. Affirme......
  • Jenkins v. Bay House Associates, LP, Record No. 021993.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 6 Junio 2003
    ...favorable to the plaintiff, Bay House Associates, L.P. (Bay House), the prevailing party in the trial court. City of Richmond v. Holt, 264 Va. 101, 103, 563 S.E.2d 690, 691 (2002); Tashman v. Gibbs, 263 Va. 65, 68, 556 S.E.2d 772, 774 (2002). In April 1998, Bay House acquired by deed a 78.5......
  • Smith v. Irving, Record No. 040349.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 5 Noviembre 2004
    ...the light most favorable to the defendant, Declan Irving, M.D., the prevailing party in the circuit court. See City of Richmond v. Holt, 264 Va. 101, 103, 563 S.E.2d 690, 691 (2002); Tashman v. Gibbs, 263 Va. 65, 68, 556 S.E.2d 772, 774 (2002). Dr. Irving is a general surgeon whose practice......
  • EI DU PONT DE NEMOURS v. Eggleston, Record No. 011739.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 7 Junio 2002
    ...Code § 65.2-518 is reached, the claimant can continue to receive temporary total incapacity benefits based on the other component injury 563 S.E.2d 690 only if the evidence still supports a finding that the claimant is totally incapacitated based on the other component The procedure prescri......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Washington v. Com., Record No. 051875.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 15 Septiembre 2006
    ...findings required by Code § 19.2-297.1, we cannot consider Washington's assignment of error on this issue. See City of Richmond v. Holt, 264 Va. 101, 108 n. *, 563 S.E.2d 690, 694 n. * III. CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, we will affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals. Affirme......
  • Jenkins v. Bay House Associates, LP, Record No. 021993.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 6 Junio 2003
    ...favorable to the plaintiff, Bay House Associates, L.P. (Bay House), the prevailing party in the trial court. City of Richmond v. Holt, 264 Va. 101, 103, 563 S.E.2d 690, 691 (2002); Tashman v. Gibbs, 263 Va. 65, 68, 556 S.E.2d 772, 774 (2002). In April 1998, Bay House acquired by deed a 78.5......
  • Smith v. Irving, Record No. 040349.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 5 Noviembre 2004
    ...the light most favorable to the defendant, Declan Irving, M.D., the prevailing party in the circuit court. See City of Richmond v. Holt, 264 Va. 101, 103, 563 S.E.2d 690, 691 (2002); Tashman v. Gibbs, 263 Va. 65, 68, 556 S.E.2d 772, 774 (2002). Dr. Irving is a general surgeon whose practice......
  • EI DU PONT DE NEMOURS v. Eggleston, Record No. 011739.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 7 Junio 2002
    ...Code § 65.2-518 is reached, the claimant can continue to receive temporary total incapacity benefits based on the other component injury 563 S.E.2d 690 only if the evidence still supports a finding that the claimant is totally incapacitated based on the other component The procedure prescri......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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