Plaintiff William Schmidt (Schmidt) was injured during a single vehicle motorcycle accident that occurred on an Interstate 90 ramp under construction at the DeSmet Interchange near Missoula, Montana. Schmidt filed a complaint in negligence in the Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County, against Defendant Washington Contractors Group, Inc. (Washington), the general contractor for the “DeSmet Interchange Project,” and Defendant Alpine Construction, Inc. (Alpine), the subcontractor hired to control traffic during the construction project. The District Court subsequently entered an opinion and order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants Washington and Alpine. From this opinion and order, Schmidt appeals. We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.
Highway 93 and Interstate 90 intersect near Missoula, Montana, at a location called the DeSmet Interchange. The Montana Department of Transportation contracted with Washington to work as the general contractor for the DeSmet Interchange Project (the Project). As the general contractor, Washington was responsible for improving the overpass, on-ramps and off-ramps at the DeSmet Interchange during the spring and summer of 1995. Alpine, hired as subcontractor on the Project, was responsible for controlling traffic during the construction project which included posting signs. On August 21, 1995, Schmidt was injured when he crashed his motorcycle while descending a temporary entrance ramp to Interstate 90 at the DeSmet Interchange. While the top-half of this temporary ramp was paved, the bottom-half was only graveled. Additionally, where the ramp interfaced with Interstate 90, an elevation difference of approximately six to eight inches existed and the ramp was repaired almost daily due to wear and tear. Schmidt’s accident occurred at the bottom of the temporary ramp where the graveled portion interfaced with the paved interstate and the elevation differential existed.
Publisher: TranSafety, Inc.
Publication Date: August 1999
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Topics: Court Decisions; Crash Causes; Crash Reports; Pavement Dropoffs; Tort Liability