Martin v. State Through Dept. of Highways

Decision Date03 May 1965
Docket NumberNo. 1736,1736
PartiesWilliam M. MARTIN v. STATE of Louisiana, through the State DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS, et al.
CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US

Page 441

175 So.2d 441
William M. MARTIN
STATE of Louisiana, through the State DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS, et al.
No. 1736.
Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit.
May 3, 1965.
Rehearing Denied June 7, 1965.

Emile J. Dreuil, Jr., New Orleans, for plaintiff-appellant.

Jesse S. Guillot, New Orleans, for defendant-appellee.


SAMUEL, Judge.

Plaintiff filed this suit against the State of Louisiana and the Department of Highways, State of Louisiana, for damages resulting from the death of his 18 year old daughter in an automobile accident. Institution of suit was authorized by a state legislative resolution. The trial court rendered judgment on the merits in favor of the defendants, dismissing plaintiff's demand. Plaintiff has appealed therefrom.

The pertinent facts are not in dispute. The accident happened on April 30, 1960, a clear day, at approximately 1:45 p.m. During a late lunch period plaintiff's daughter had taken a ride with a young man who worked with her at a local market. She was the only passenger in his 1950 model automobile. They were traveling on a two lane highway, known as Woodland, on the right descending bank of Orleans Parish in the direction of the Algiers Cut-Off Bridge, a vertical lift draw bridge spanning the Intracoastal Canal on the boundary line between Orleans and Palquemines Parishes. The young man was unfamiliar with the

Page 442

highway, which forms an 'S' curve through a wooded area about a half mile before reaching the bridge on the Orleans Parish side and then straightens out 850 feet away from the bridge's wooden guard barricades. The barricades are a distance of 234 feet from the nearer end of the bridge which is open when the draw is lifted.

As the car emerged from the curve the bridge was open. Another car, with an attached trailer carrying a boat and which also had been traveling towards Plaquemines Parish, was stopped in its right lane near the lowered barricades. The plaintiff vehicle was traveling at a speed of 50 miles per hour. Its driver saw the parked car and moved into the left lane for the purpose of passing it. According to his testimony, it was at that time, when he was about 40 or 50 yards from the bridge barricades, that he first realized the bridge was open. He attempted to apply his brakes and found he had none. He had repaired the brakes the day before but a later examination of the car, itself in very poor condition throughout, revealed it was without brakes due to a defect in the master cylinder and a resultant absence of brake fluid. The driver then turned off the ignition and attempted to shift gears in an effort to slow the vehicle but the car crashed through the left wooden barricade, continued forward the full distance of 234 feet to the open end of the bridge and plunged into the canal. In doing so it went over fender pilings 10 feet from the open end of the bridge and into the canal near the center thereof, a distance of approximately 50 feet from the open end. In some unexplained manner the driver was forced from the vehicle and escaped; but plaintiff's daughter was trapped in the car and drowned.

As the car had rounded the curve and approached the open bridge various safety measures were present and several warning devices were in full operation. A clearly visible sign reading 'DRAW BRIDGE' was on the right shoulder of the highway more than 500 feet from the bridge. Another sign, also on the right shoulder and about 500 feet from the bridge, stated the speed limit was 25 miles per hour. There were yellow stripings on the surface of the highway in the right lane next to the yellow center line, signifying a no passing zone. The two wooden safety barricades, one on each side of the highway and each three quarters of an inch thick with a width of eight inches narrowing to three inches, were in the down position completely across the highway. Each barricade was painted with broad black and white diagonal stripes and on each was a red light which was flashing. On the right lane barricade there was a sign marked 'STOP' in large letters. On the right shoulder of the highway a short distance in front of the base of the barricade on that side was a post 9 feet in height with four vertical...

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9 cases
  • State v. I'Anson, 2032
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • 29 Noviembre 1974
    ...... held that the state's duty of care to users of its highways 'should be defined by ordinary negligence principles'. 27 ...Ives, 159 Conn. 163, 268 A.2d 406, 408 (Conn.1970); Martin v. State, Dep't of Highways, 175 So.2d 441, 443 ......
  • Forest v. State, Through Louisiana Dept. of Transp. and Development, 86-C-0461
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • 8 Septiembre 1986
    ...217 So.2d 415 (La.1969); Hall v. State, Dept. of Highways, 213 So.2d 169 (La.App.3d Cir.1968); Martin v. State, Dept. of Highways, 175 So.2d 441 (La.App. 4th Cir.1965); Davis v. State, Dept. of Highways, 68 So.2d 263 (La.App.2d Cir.1953); Rosier v. State, Dept. of Highways, 50 So.2d 31 (La.......
  • Merritt by Southeast Nat. Bank v. City of Chester
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 9 Agosto 1985
    ...accidents occurring on them." Wasser v. Northampton County, supra at 27, 94 A. at 445. See also: Martin v. State Department of Highways, 175 So.2d 441 (La.Ct.App.1965), cert. denied, 248 La. 359, 178 So.2d 653 (1965); Smith v. Sharp, 82 Idaho 420, 354 P.2d 172 (1960); Swain v. City of Nashv......
  • State v. Kaatz, 3080
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • 9 Diciembre 1977
    ......), holds that the state has no duty to keep its highways safe for negligent highway users; . 4. The trial court's ...Martin v. State, Dep't of Highways, 175 So.2d 441, 443 ......
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