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City of Denton v. Paper – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In City of Denton v. Paper, No. 11-0596, 376 S.W.3d 762, 2012 WL 3537810 (Tex. Aug. 17, 2012) (per curiam). the plaintiff sued the City of Denton for injuries she sustained when she was thrown over the handlebars of her bicycle after riding over a hole in her residential street.

The supreme court held that the pencil-length deep sunken area the plaintiff rode over, which was located several feet into the right lane of the street from the curb, was not a special defect.

In so holding, the court stated:

"We have held . . . that variations in public roadways of a few inches are not the same as the excavations or obstructions mentioned in the Act. See, e.g., City of Dallas v. Reed, 258 S.W.3d 620, 622 (Tex. 2008) (per curiam); City of El Paso v. Bernal, 986 S.W.2d 610, 611 (Tex. 1999) (per curiam) (holding that a worn or depressed area of a sidewalk approximately three feet by six feet in size with a depth of three inches was not a special defect). Similarly, the sunken area or pot hole here, ranging from two inches to a few inches more at its deepest point and located in the center of one lane of traffic is not the excavation or obstruction contemplated by the statute."

The court further stated that "ample room existed for a bicycle to navigate around this hole without having to enter the opposing traffic lane," concluding that the plaintiff's ability to travel on the road was not physically impaired and that such an irregularity on the road should have been expected.