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Ohio Supreme Court Rules Cities Aren't Liable If Foliage Obscures Sign But Doesn't Block It Entirely

Karen Kasler
Stop sign in Columbus (pic has been altered to hide name of street)

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a city can’t be sued if a driver’s view of a stop or other traffic control sign is blocked by shrubs or plants, unless they’re actually growing on the sign.

In 2013, Judy Pelletier ran a stop sign in Campbell near Youngstown and hit another car. She sued the city, claiming she couldn’t see the sign because of trees and shrubs in the privately owned devil strip near it.  Her attorney Gregg Rossi told the Ohio Supreme Court in February that the city was at fault for not removing the foliage. “They erected the stop sign, they have a duty to make sure, to keep it in repair.”

But the city’s attorney James Mathews said the sign could be seen from other angles. “A complete blockage is required for there to be an exception from immunity triggered.”

The justices overruled a lower court and sided with the city, saying that since the foliage wasn’t on the sign, the city had no obligation to remove it.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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