Legere v. City of Norwalk
The term "highway" in the "highway-defect" statute may not extend to a submerged boat ramp that is used to load or unload a boat onto a trailer. Allegedly, the plaintiff, David Legere, went to a municipal park in Norwalk, Conn. and slipped on an accumulation of algae on a submerged boat ramp, when he attempted to load his boat back onto a trailer. Legere sued the City of Norwalk pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §13a-149, the "highway-defect" statute, and argued that the submerged boat ramp was in, upon or near the traveled path of the highway. The municipality moved for summary judgment and argued that the submerged boat ramp where Legere allegedly was injured did not qualify as a "highway" defect. "Highways" are designed to permit vehicles and pedestrians to travel on land. The plaintiff failed to provide legal authority for his claim that the highway-defect statute applies to water travel or to submerged land. "Water travel," wrote the court, "is particularly ill-suited for inclusion in the scope of a statute dealing with roads, since roads are generally reasonably well-defined, and the duty of maintenance primarily focuses on the interface between road and travel, i.e., the surface." Even if boats were among the vehicles intended for coverage under the highway-defect statute, the plaintiff was not injured when traveling in his boat but when he attempted to transfer the boat from the water back onto a boat trailer. Although the plaintiff was moving his feet, he was not traveling from one place to another. The court granted the municipality's motion for summary judgment.