Theron and Dana Davis sued the Effingham County Board of Commissioners, Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie, Deputy Gary Provost, along with two private contractors and one of their employees, for damages they say they suffered when their truck struck a pothole on Chimney Road in 2009.
Issues on appeal include whether the trial court was correct in granting a summary judgement motion that the lawsuit against the county, McDuffie and Provost was barred by sovereign immunity.
Sovereign immunity is a doctrine that limits litigation against a government, and persons acting for the government, in their official capacities.
The Court of Appeals this week wrote that the granting of the motion for summary judgment, filed by the county and granted in Superior Court, was not an error, as the Davises claimed.
A summary judgment motion claims the litigation is without material facts in contention and the filer should win as a matter of law.
In the Court of Appeals ruling, the courts states that the deputy reported he responded to a call on May 22, 2009 from a person who reported her vehicle had been damaged when she’d driven over a pothole on Chimney Road. The record states that the deputy inspected the road and only found visible potholes on the shoulder of the roadway and out of the flow of traffic.
In an affidavit filed the day before the summary judgment hearing, Theron Davis testified that he was driving on Chimney Road on May 25, 2009 when he struck a pothole covered by water and “was injured, immediately suffering pain.”
On May 29 another deputy responded to the Davises’ home where the May 25 incident was reported. The deputy stated she was unable to find any potholes in the roadway on Chimney Road.
Appeals Judge Michael Boggs wrote the decision. Presiding Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes and Judge Lisa Branch concurred.