September 19, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria denying most residents’ claims for pothole damage

Miranda Taylor sits Wednesday in her car that she says received heavy damage March 13 after it hit a pothole in Elyria and then slammed into a utility pole. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Miranda Taylor sits Wednesday in her car that she says received heavy damage March 13 after it hit a pothole in Elyria and then slammed into a utility pole. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — As if hitting a pothole, feeling her tire pop and sliding into a pole as a result was not bad enough, Miranda Taylor said she received a $3,868 repair estimate for her 2009 Toyota Corolla Sport.

The 21-year-old said that is like asking her to come up with a million dollars.

The broken car now sits in her driveway. She had hoped to find relief from the city since her car was damaged by a pothole, but a letter she received several weeks after the March 13 accident dashed those hopes with two words — “claim denied.”

“If there are potholes, I normally do everything I can to swerve and miss them. This time, there was a car coming, so I had to just hit (the pothole) and hope for the best,” she said. “Now, I can’t drive my car, and the city is saying it’s not their fault.”

Taylor is not alone.

Winter potholes have wreaked havoc on vehicles, turning neighborhood streets into obstacle courses that many residents are not lucky enough to traverse unscathed. The aftermath is dozens of stories of popped tires, bent rims and suspensions knocked out of alignment.

Since December, the Elyria law director’s office has investigated 22 car-related claims by residents who have hit potholes or other road hazards. Another seven claims have been submitted for review.

So far, just one claim has been paid for $64.57. A city wastewater employee left a manhole hook in the middle of Laundon Road in late December. Michael Hudson of Elyria drove over the hook and had to replace his tire when the metal gouged the rubber. The city reimbursed him for the new tire, Law Director Scott Serazin said.

“And, he was nice enough to return our manhole hook,” he said.

Other drivers who have banged up their cars have not been so lucky.

“It’s not like we have a policy to deny them all,” Serazin said. “We look at each one, and they are investigated individually.”

When a claim is submitted, both the city Street and Police departments are contacted to see if city employees were notified of the pothole or road hazard. If the city was unaware of the problem, it cannot be held legally liable for damage.

If the city was notified, the claim is likely to be paid, Serazin said.

Rickey Dewey, 29, of LaGrange, said he doesn’t understand that logic.

He hit a pothole while driving on state Route 57 in January and caused major damage to his car. The denial letter he received after the fact said the city fixed the pothole after he hit it.

“They say it’s not their fault, but fixed it,” he said. “How could they not know the pothole was there? When my car hit it, I thought my car blew up. That’s how loud it hit.”

Dewey said he plans to file a moral claim with City Council. It’s the next step in the claim process.

Taylor said she will look into doing the same thing.

“This is a complete inconvenience for me because I can’t really drive my car,” she said. “I can, but only if I really have to go somewhere. I have no idea what I am going to do.”

The last time Council heard a plethora of pothole complaints from residents was in 2008. That was before the reconstruction of Route 57 and dozens of residents filed claims with the city. A total of 83 claims were heard over four days, and in the end Council voted to pay 58 motorists. The total payout was about $12,000, with claimants receiving an average of about $144.

The maximum City Council will pay for any claim is $500. The city can opt to pay out at a higher threshold if it chooses.

Serazin said he doesn’t know if any of this year’s claims will go that route. He attributes the conditions of the road to the brutal winter.

Scott Payne, Street Department superintendent, said crews have been using a temporary fix known as cold patch to repair the roads, but the hope is to switch to asphalt paving as soon as possible.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


  • Mark B

    No patch is going to work if they don’t use a Roller to compress the patch. Tamping it down with a shovel does not work and is a waste of Time and materials at the taxpayers expense.

    • Michael

      yep. First few cars hitting it, or rain, and it’s gravel. Sticky gravel… as in sticks to your car.
      But if unions did things right the first time they wouldn’t have job security now would they.

  • Michael

    there are so many things wrong with how Elyria is doing this… or not doing it, it isn’t funny. How does the public know if the city was notified? How do we know they are actually logging it? How does the city NOT know? Drive around! Besides, the same employees who patch holes drive on those roads. But being union, it isn’t their job to report it, but just fix it, right?

    One claim has been approved? One?

    I hope a judge steps up and quells this nonsense. They take our tax dollars, then are incompetent in patching, but won’t pay out. Some laws must be being broken. Who governs the government??

    • http://batman-news.com Roy

      I said the same thing to them, Still no responce from the City & I dont think we will get one either !

  • dvcssr

    I watched a Elyria City pothole crew dump asphalt in a hole in front of the closed fire station on Broad St. and then left. Did not tamp down the material just left a mound of material in the hole. This was occur this past Tue.

    • Mark B

      That’s how they do it , or tap it down with a shovel. And if they are feeling energetic that day they might run it over with the wheel of a truck. That is straight from the “How to fix pot Holes By Union Workers 101 “

      • stillsleepyeyes

        unions do it best……….trained workers…………it isn’t done right unless it’s done by a union…………( sarcasm)

        • Russell Allan Panchak Sr.

          How does this issue become anti-union attack time? Brainless Fox Noise listeners.

          • stillsleepyeyes

            i’m sorry………..just repeating what union people say all the time…………….if it hurts….call your rep and file a grievance………..brainless union rep

  • Tiredandretired

    So are we to assume Ms. Taylor was driving uninsured?

    • KR13

      Liability coverage does not cover pothole damage

    • Jeff

      why would you even assume that ??

      • Tiredandretired

        If liability insurance does not cover pothole damage, I stand corrected. But, look at he damage to the car, that rust does not look like it is from an accident one month ago.

        • Starryeyes63

          Kelly blue Book is about 10K for this car would you only have liability……… I for one would have full coverage.

        • http://batman-news.com Roy

          Do you know how fast Metal rust without paint on it ? I do & you can bet it was from it .

          • Jeff

            Agreed. I painted cars for 15 years and it is amazing how fast bare metal will rust. And its not cheap to fix.

      • Starryeyes63

        Kelly blue Book is about 10K for this car would you only have liability……… I for one would have full coverage. Just a thought.

    • http://batman-news.com Roy

      No, My Insurance told me to get it from the City.

  • Brian_Reinhardt

    The Chronicle should have asked for a list of paid claims and published the list so we could see what many of the people who have been reimbursed have in common.

    Please CT, at least ask for a list of names and see for yourself.

    • stillsleepyeyes

      Bahahahahahahaha………..you want actual reporting…………bahahahahahahaha

  • Nick Noneya

    Elyria wants to save their money so they can demolish another downtown building. Or maybe buy fireworks.

    • Mark B

      If they want to save money they could get rid of Elyria Police , there are enough Ohio State Patrol policing Elyria that EPD is not needed .

      • Michael Easterwood

        Uh,no

  • Joe Smith

    Would be nice if everybody could get together on each of their streets and log all the potholes and send a certified letter to the city notifying about all the potholes so that ” we didn’t know about the potholes” excuse would go away.

    • stillsleepyeyes

      You have a better chance at having everyone fix there own streets…………at least it would be done right…………….

      • Joe Smith

        It was just a pipedream anyway.

    • golfingirl

      Shouldn’t the city workers in the Street Department be out documenting this, so they can prioritize areas needing repairs?

      They know where the potholes are, just claiming ignorance so they don’t have to pay.

      If they don’t know, fire them and hire people who will actually do their job and identify and document ALL the potholes in Elyria.

    • Jeff

      Maybe this has been mentioned somewhere, but, why can’t the EPD, City officials, City workers etc…. make a simple note as to where the potholes are. After all, The only thing they do all day is ride around the city !

  • Sis Delish

    Elyria Fireworks Fundraising Update

    Target Amount: $60,000.00
    Amount Raised: $3,509.39
    Amount remaining to hit Target: $56,490.61

    Amount Set-aside in City Budget for Pothole Claims: $0.00

    • Mark B

      Amount Set-aside in City Budget for Pothole Claims: $0.00″
      That’s still twice the amount of hours on Elyria Street Departments Steam roller .

    • golfingirl

      Almost the same amount she needs to repair her car.

  • Sis Delish

    2010, Shovel-Ready Stimulus Money from Democrats and the President… Shoveled right into the Labor Unions PAC’s and Debitcrats Campaigns.

    Result: Potholes remaining Potholes.

    • golfingirl

      This is literally a “shovel-ready” job and a perfect fit for the spending of stimulus money to make infrastructure improvements.

      So where is all that taxpayer money?

      Maybe the CT should do a little investigative reporting, but then again, facts might get in the way of their Democratic agenda.

    • Russell Allan Panchak Sr.

      My gawd….cheese n rice….you people are really stupid.

  • http://www.donaldpdaniels.legalshieldassociate.com Donald Daniels

    This is why you need access to a GOOD lawyer,but 90% of Americans can’t afford the $300 per hour fee. That why we need LegalShield. Check it out and become part of the Legal revolution,that this country needs at my website. http://www.donaldpdaniels.legalshieldassociate.com Don’t let government and big business be the only ones with access to top notch legal protection!!!!! If you do this will continue to happen!!!!

    • Donald Duck

      This is prepaid legal !! Is this not the same insurance that Bill Grace use to sell?

  • Guest

    Where is my comment??!!! I offer a solution for something like this and it gets erased!!??

    • Bruce Tennant

      it was swallowed by a pothole…..

    • Jeff

      join the club…ct hates me

  • Guest

    The reason the city will tell you to shove off is because your not a lawyer and people need access to lawyers whilst NOT paying $300 bucks an hour. I guess the chronicle doesn’t want you all to know that there is a better way. :(

  • bigmacky

    its either all or NONE – your so called “street department” is a joke – they plow snow and cut grass – that’s about it – as far as saying it cost a lot of money to bring out the hot patch vs the cold patch – let see – crew of 4 cold patching for 8 hours a day – and having to come back in 3 days to repatch because the tar coated gravel is gone vs – 8 hours for a 4 man crew hot patching “once and done” – no brainer – tired of the excuses – make them work – its their JOB

    • Mark B

      Its in every department , Hell the Sanitation department only works 4 hours a day , but get paid for 8 hours work .

    • golfingirl

      We have a whole bunch of able bodied workers sitting in the Lorain County Correctional Facility.

      I bet if they could be unionized, we would see them doing the work.

      • Mark B

        Wrong , after you are unionized it means you just have to ride around in a city vehicle all day doing nothing. No Work actually involved .

        • golfingirl

          Good point!

      • GreatRedeemer

        They don’t need no union, they can work for 35 cents an hour
        and be glad to get out be useful and be in the sun. They could pick up the roadway trash too. Inmates that have been convicted of crimes in Elyria should pay Elyria back with some honest labor.

        The union problem would come in because someone would
        complain that the city should hire more service employees not use prison labor. Of course what is good for society and the taxpayers is not always part of the their discussion.

        • golfingirl

          That was my point…we agree! I was just being sarcastic.

    • Jeff

      You don’t actually expect them to go out in the cold do you?? lmao

  • GreatRedeemer

    I saw on yesterday’s Chronicle that North Ridgeville has a
    form to report pot holes. Wouldn’t that be great here ? I’m sure it’s time stamped and considered a
    public record for when those claims are denied.

    http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2014/04/09/north-ridgeville-updates-city-website/

    Still, the CT could make a public records request for any communication regarding potholes, electronic, written, phone logs and publish the results.

    • Mark B

      Could the Police not report potholes to dispatch , do they not drive most of the streets on a daily basis while talking on their cell phones ?

      • golfingirl

        They already report the “pot” and “ho’s” in Elyria.

        Oh…..you mean “potholes,” as in one word. My mistake.

    • golfingirl

      How about right on the Mayor’s website.

      You know, that same site where you can donate to the Fireworks!!!

      As a good citizen, you send in the location, the computer knows the time it was sent and received, and a searchable list of all reported potholes is easily accessible to the public.

      But wait, then it could be proven that the City of Elyria knew about them, at exactly what time they were brought to their attention and how long they have been sitting unrepaired.

      Naw….Bad idea. The city would then be held accountable. Just go to the site and send in your fireworks donations.

      I mean why fix potholes, they will just come back again next winter?

  • Michael Easterwood

    Potholes all over the city.Would it kill for someone from the Street Department to take a tour of the city and survey the roads?

    • Mark B

      That would require writing skills , I think most just know how to ride in a truck all day

      • Michael Easterwood

        Yeah up and up and down

    • golfingirl

      Just borrow a drone for a day from the NSA and videotape all the roads.

      Oh, sorry,,,,,we can’t spare any right now, they are being used to spy on our own citizens.

      • Michael Easterwood

        I would not doubt it that’s for sure!

  • SniperFire

    Clearly, Brinda couldn’t run a Bake Sale.

  • Ker Webster

    So the city has to be AWARE of potholes BEFORE they accept a claim because: “If the city was unaware of the problem, it cannot be held legally liable for damage.”? Okay, Elyria, here’s your notification: S.Logan Street by Elyria Community Middle School, ANYWHERE on East Avenue before South Park…seriously…ANYWHERE before South Park, the sinkhole by the Sunoco station, under the overhead railway by Get Go… Anyone else want to add to this list? Jeeze! >:(

    • http://batman-news.com Roy

      Or anywhere around the Mall

    • Ker Webster

      I see the sinkhole by the Sunoco got fixed. ;) Now…how about the rest? Oh! And Elyria: you can also add all the potholes on Middle Ave from the High School all the way to Head Start, the one on Popuar by Elyria Catholic…You have been notified! And I’ll keep adding since this IS documented now. Get to it boys!

      • Lisa Shannon-Stringer

        Adams Street…..alllllllllll of Adams street.

  • BroDelish5566

    hey golf gal, why the sour note about unions. Maybe we can get your hubby who supplies drugs and steroids and get some bulked up kids who will be gone by the time they turn 50, to fill in these potholes.

    • golfingirl

      And maybe you can kiss my A$$.

  • Michael

    how about the city make an easy website for people to “report” potholes by loading the info? The MJ website has one! It’s easy!… but of course Elyria won’t use it because it opens them to claims.

    Make reporting simple; then fix it. OPr better yet drive street by street stopping as they see them. I mean, it is a union, so unionize already.

  • Sis Delish

    A Possible Solution to make things Right.

    IF this girl’s family owns the home they reside in, they could be forgiven an equal amount of Real Estate Taxes until “the accounts” are reconciled, a waiver on their Water Bill, or any other combination of “relief”. (This new law would be retroactive to the day that Obama visited Elyria the first time, with his promise of Shovel-Ready Jobs)

    or,

    Give Bill Grace and fellow Debitcrats shovels and Obama “Hope & Change” Stickers for the back of their work clothes so we can see what Shovel-Ready Jobs look like… and provide credit where credit is due.

  • http://batman-news.com Roy

    $863.00 for me to borrow to fix my wifes car for her to go to her minium wage job in Elyria ! Just to to be told the same thing. ” We did not know about it, so we can pay “. Unless you have had your head in on of your Potholes for the last $yrs how could you have not known about it ? Just another way to say to bad.

    • Sis Delish

      Keep your receipt.

      If you get a traffic ticket or some other “expense” from your travels in and out of Elyria, argue that until you are fully reimbursed for the damage caused by the City’s negligence, you’ll gladly pass on paying any fines.

  • Sis Delish

    Just another thought…

    When your home or business is “inspected” by the City, they are merciless in the fines and demands that you repair the structure Post Haste!.

    Turn the tables, and they have all sorts of deflections on liabilities.

    Just remember this the next time you get a request from the city to “fix something”.

    Just Reply to them with one word: POTHOLES!

  • Izzy Dojo

    this city has become a joke i hit a pothole a few weeks back broke the ball joint the RIM and the tire now has a broken belt But i wont even waste my time with this city because they always cry they have no money to fix the roads yet didnt they just get back a million dollars from a insurance policy that has been Funding tearing down old houses COME ON CITY!! hope her car gets fixed.

  • Tim Francis

    pot holes; the bridge by the mall the whole thing basically. the corner of west river and detroit in front of good deal used cars, east bridge street

  • michael western

    next time this happens to someone get out of your car take a picture of your car and the pothole go to the police station and file a report and press charges against the city of Elyria. its all politics with those morons and they are trying to play hardball so do it right back and since they are saying that “if they don’t know about it they are not responsible” the city is a pothole. theres potholes all over the damn place including west river road. I saw yesterday a lady hit it and blew out her tire.

  • rob

    Funny thing, cold patch is more expensive than hot mix. Unfortunatley startup and shutdown of an asphalt plant is an expensive and time consuming process. Ambient temperature as well as application surface temperature play a key role. Asphalt has an ideal material tempurature range of 270-325 degrees. Hot boxes are great for long holding times, but asphalt plants take weeks of preparation for startup and shutdown. Unless you are suggesting Kokosing spends 25k a round to open and close intermittently selling 2k in product at a time, what is the realistic course of action? Cold patch sucks but it softens the blow. Also it continues to flatten as it never becomes solid, too much tamping and it’s life cycle as a patch has been depleted. This is an Ohio winter, your equally as well off requesting June in comparison to asking for permanent solutions.

  • Guest

    so now on, it’s up to,whomever,to hit a pothole&pick up the phone..”When a claim is submitted, both the city Street and Police departments are contacted to see if city employees were notified of the pothole or road hazard. If the city was unaware of the problem, it cannot be held legally liable for damage.”
    “If the city was notified, the claim is likely to be paid, Serazin said”

  • topofthemorningeverybody

    so it’s up to a person if they hit a pothole then pick up the phone… “When a claim is submitted, both the city Street and Police departments are contacted to see if city employees were notified of the pothole or road hazard. If the city was unaware of the problem, it cannot be held legally liable for damage.”

    “If the city was notified, the claim is likely to be paid,” Serazin said.

    • topofthemorningeverybody

      oh&record the conversation from the phone or better yet,go up to the department,face to face&get the complaint in writing.

  • GreatRedeemer

    That pothole on Cleveland street east of of 57 is huge. People swerve to miss and cause traffic to swerve in other lanes. The CT should get the public records on how potholes are recorded from the Mayors office.

  • Bruce Tennant

    can we trade in the flowers that were planted in the median along 57 by Walmart for pothole repair ?

  • Sis Delish

    I wonder if the current Mayor and her femme staff have ever picked up a shovel?