Motorcycle Struck a Placed Fence Post - Lawsuit Against the Department of Transportation

In Saylor v. Green, 165 Pa. Commw. 249, 645 A.2d 318 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1994), Saylor had been driving a motorcycle in the southbound lane of Route 507. His motorcycle left the roadway for no apparent reason and struck a fence post that was approximately three feet from the side of the road. Saylor suffered scrapes and abrasions and a laceration of his right knee. Saylor sued both the owner of the land where the fence post was located and the Department of Transportation (DOT). The Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County granted summary judgment in favor of DOT and the landowner. Saylor appealed. Saylor, 645 A.2d at 319. The Court affirmed: In his complaint, Saylor alleges that he was operating his motorcycle when he 'suddenly and without warning struck an illegally placed fence post. . . .' At his deposition, Saylor testified that he did not know why he lost control of the motorcycle. Consequently, the trial court found that there was insufficient evidence to justify an inference of causation. Such a finding is consistent with Babcock v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, 156 Pa. Commw. 69, 626 A.2d 672 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1993), where a plaintiff lost control of her car for unknown reasons and the car skidded along a ditch and up an embankment where it collided with a log. This Court affirmed summary judgment against plaintiff and reasoned that the accident was caused by the car leaving the roadway, not by a log lying on the ground. It follows that in the instant case, if Saylor had not left the road, his motorcycle would not have hit the pole. Saylor, 645 A.2d at 320.