Streetlight falls on Missouri man’s car; city refuses to pay, saying it’s not liable

Nation and World News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — A Missouri man whose car was smashed after a streetlight fell on it says he’s upset that the city has denied his claim.

A neighbor in the quiet cul-de-sac was the one who told Parker McDaniels about the streetlight incident, which happened right after Christmas.

“When I was going into my kitchen, I heard it,” Stephanie Moutry said of the crash.

The damage to the 1994 Honda convertible was considerable, estimated at $3,200.

A few weeks after McDaniels filed a claim with the city, he got the bad news. 

“After careful examination of the facts, we do not feel the city is legally liable and therefore must deny the claim,” wrote Christopher Brooks, a claims investigator with the city’s law department.

“This is my only transportation, and the city should be responsible,” McDaniels said.

Personal injury attorney Scott Shachtman said it’s not that simple. He said imagine a basketball goal on your property fell and hit your neighbor’s car. He said just because it was your goal doesn’t necessarily mean you’re responsible for the damage.

“Cities, like homeowners, are not responsible because someone gets hurt on their property,” Shachtman said. “You still have to establish there was negligence.”

The city said there had been no complaints about the pole in the last two years. The city inspects the poles every four years, and the one that hit McDaniels’ car was not scheduled for a maintenance check for another few months.

The city sent a crew out to examine all the poles on the cul-de-sac. Public Works Director Sean Demory said they didn’t find any visible problems with the other poles, which are 30-40 years old.

But McDaniels said the pole that hit his car, which has since been replaced, was rusting at the base.

McDaniels said even the subcontractor working for the city who replaced the pole mentioned the rust.

“They said they weren’t surprised because the pole had rusted out because of all the rust at the bottom,” McDaniels said.

WDAF contacted the city, as well as McDaniels’ city council member. The city has now agreed to reopen the case.

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