From The Storyteller
Hello All: After several requests from family and several Sounding Board members I have written a story that actually pulls together several events. I smiled as I wrote it. I hope you smile as you read it. Enjoy. Doug
Two small holes in the road and you would think nobody would notice the fact that they went unfixed for 12 years. The city wanted them fixed, the county wanted them fixed, the state wanted them fixed, and even the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) wanted them fixed, but they were still there. Why? Because no one knew who was responsible for fixing them, and when one of those four started to try the other three started fussing by threatening a lawsuit, which no one had the stomach for - so the holes were still there.
The problem began when the holes finally became bothersome for David Stringer. His father, David Sr. had lived in his house for 55 years, and about 12 years before his death, holes appeared. When he died David Jr., his only child, inherited the house, and naturally the holes came with it.
David and his wife moved in and immediately found those holes annoying. Being an action-oriented person, David first called the city who referred him to the county, who referred him to the state, and the state finally referred him to the USDOT - who naturally referred him back to the city. After making that trip twice, David simply bought four pounds of Ready Mix, and one Saturday afternoon the holes disappeared.
On Monday a city inspector gave David a citation for improper road construction. On Tuesday the county engineer cited him for the same thing, and on Wednesday a state highway department engineer stopped by to present David with a citation of the state’s version of the same thing. On the following Monday, David was served with a lawsuit filed in Federal Court by the USDOT, who were seeking $10,000 in damages, and requesting a temporary restraining order to prevent him from putting the holes back the way they were.
Thinking this to be an administrative mix up, he called each one. He was directed to their respective legal departments and was informed, yes, they were all very serious. While David saw nothing funny in the hole problem (pun intended), his wife, a lawyer with a great sense of humor, thought it hysterical and immediately filed a response. She counter sued the USDOT, and also joined the city, county, and state as defendants in the case.
David first got a temporary restraining order stopping the citations from going forward. Then he sought $50,000 in damages from each of the four, arising out of their 12 years of inaction, causing 12 years of pain and suffering every time his body was jared from hitting those two holes.Of course, all four defendants denied David’s claims, and then each counter sued the other three claiming they were responsible for David’s damage.
Now with $200,000 in total claims facing the city, the city council finally came to grips with, “Why, in 12 years, had nothing been done to fix the holes”. The county commissioners, the governor’s office, and David’s congressman all had that same question. 18 months of legal proceedings with multiple lawyers and research by 4 civil engineers finally uncovered why nothing had been done. The 150 ft of road (including the holes) in front of David’s house was on his land. The city’s ownership and their part of the road ended just north of his property line.
Fifty plus years ago, the original road building crew was paid by the city. When they got to his dad’s property line, no one said stop. Being paid to build the road, they just kept going until the county began paying the crew to continue building the county road. Then, when the state took over maintenance from the county, the USDOT highway requirements applied, but two holes in 150 feet of rough road just dropped below their radar, and David's dad never complained.
Ultimately the city paid David $30,000 for the 150ft, the county fixed the holes, and the state and USDOT were finally satisfied.
Moral: Life can quickly get complicated without much effort.