CHARLESTON -- Five people are suing the West Virginia Division of Highways over a car accident they say was caused by haphazard traffic control.
Shawn Barley, Samantha Barley, Glenda Balser, Kathleen Balser and Kenneth Balser all filed individual lawsuits against the DOH in Kanawha Circuit Court on Feb. 19.
The suits are related to a crash that occurred on May 18, 2008, at the intersection of U.S. 60 and the Montgomery Bridge.
Shawn Barley was the driver of the vehicle and the other four were passengers in his car, the complaints say.
The plaintiffs say they were heading across the Montgomery Bridge towards Pond Gap when they collided with another vehicle driven by Gary L. Brown.
Brown was traveling eastbound on U.S. 60 at the time of the crash, the complaints say.
The plaintiffs allege the DOH had put in temporary traffic control devices – like orange barrels, concrete barriers and portable stop signs – because the agency was in the process of cleaning up a rockslide that had occurred near the site of the crash.
The DOH significantly altered the traffic pattern in the area for the clean-up, the complaints say.
The force of the crash turned Shawn Barley's car up against the barrier of the bridge onto its side, nearly over the side of the bridge, according to the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs contend there was no visible traffic control signal to the motorists traveling across the bridge towards Pond Gap or to the eastbound traffic.
The complaints say that Shawn Barley only saw there was a portable stop sign set up "in the general vicinity" of the intersection when he was able to get out of the wrecked car.
The complaints say the stop sign was not anchored and was turned sideways and couldn't be seen by motorists. The plaintiffs allege that the sign could have been moved by the wind or a passing car or some other force and that the DOH should have anchored it to the road.
The plaintiffs further contend that there had been a previous car wreck in the area that was reportedly due to the traffic control set-up. According to the complaints, local law enforcement had contacted the DOH to express their concerns over the "dangerous" intersection.
All the plaintiffs are being represented by J. Michael Ranson and Cynthia M. Ranson. They are seeking various damages.
Kanawha Circuit Judges Jennifer Bailey Walker, Tod Kaufman and Paul Zakaib have been assigned to hear the cases.
Kanawha Circuit Court case numbers: 09-C-271 through 09-C-275