Indy woman files tort claim against the city, claiming metal plate damaged her vehicle

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A woman feels stranded after she says a metal plate along Holt Road damaged her vehicle.

Kayla Brown said she was driving her son home from the hospital when it happened. She said it was dark and that there were no street lights.

“There were no construction signs. There was no warning that they were doing construction; no warning that there was a bump in the road,” Brown said.

Brown described the moment her van hit the plate at about 40 miles per hour.

“It sounded like I hit the back of a car,” she recalled. “It almost brought my car to a stop.”

Brown said she just wanted to get home so she kept driving. Once she pulled into the driveway and parked, the van would no longer shift back into gear. She took her vehicle to the shop, where they told her the plate had damaged her transmission. Her insurance company reportedly refused to cover the repairs, claiming they didn’t have proof that anything happened.

Brown called the city, thinking it would reimburse her for the damage.

“I contacted the Mayor's Action Center. They reported it to the city’s engineering department and then they sent me over to their legal team,” Brown said. “They sent me a form in the mail saying I have to have the estimate of what it’s going to cost and the name, everything on my car.”

The city has strict policies when it comes to filing tort claims. A person, such as Brown, has 180 days to fill out and send in the paperwork. Then, the city has 90 days to respond to the claim. That means it will be at least three months before Brown gets any help.

“I don’t have time to wait. I have four kids. There are a lot of doctor appointments, a lot of grocery store trips,” Brown said.

Meanwhile, Brown’s vehicle sits in her driveway.

CBS4 obtained public records that show several people have complained about the exact same metal plate. In April, a person complained about a chuckhole saying it damaged his vehicle. On August 8th, a citizen called the Mayor’s Action Line saying the metal plate moved as cars drove over it. He said “someone is going to get in a wreck because of the issue. Please inspect.” On October 10th, someone complained about the plate saying it knocked their car out of alignment. Two days later, a person went online and reported seeing two hub caps fly off a car along Holt Road. The person referred to the metal plate.

A public works spokesperson sent CBS4 a statement saying:

“The metal plate in this segment of Holt Road has been inspected several times and is secured until the bridge repair is fully designed and ready for construction in the spring. This portion of North Holt Road has been inspected just this week, in fact. Anyone who has a claim for personal injury or property damage against the City of Indianapolis - Marion County must make the tort claim in writing to the Office of Corporation Counsel. DPW does not review or manage tort claims from citizens.”

Betsy Whitmore, the chief communications officer, said the city installed the plate to “protect the expansion joint along the bridge.” She said it would cost the city $175,000 to permanently repair the area. The city plans to do the work next spring.