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Ohio Supreme Court Says You Usually Can't Sue a City Over Shrubs Blocking Your View of a Stop Sign

photo of Ohio Supreme Court
DAN KONIK
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
The city attorney argued the the sign could be seen from a different angle.

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,” he said.

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,” he said.

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.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.