City hall in Romania forced to pay damages for cars broken because of potholes

groapa-1The Cluj-Napoca city hall has to pay EUR 12,300 (RON 55,000) in damages to an insurance company representing 19 drivers whose cars broke because of the holes in the city’s roads, RFI Romania reports. The municipality was found responsible for the damaged cars because it was its responsibility to maintain the roads in the city in good condition.

The lawsuit between the insurance firm and the Cluj-Napoca city hall started in 2008 and the court’s decision is a first in the country, where road infrastructure is in a poor state. More local drivers may feel encouraged to go to court over damages caused by the state of the roads, says Romania-Insider.com.

“Unlike in the countries where the Common Law legal system applies, where a court decision can set a judicial precedent, in Romania a court decision doesn’t have the ability of setting such a precedent, of compelling other courts to give similar solutions,” lawyer Melinda Tutu said, quoted by RFI. Other courts can however use this decision as a landmark in solving similar cases.

In one of the 19 cases for which the insurance company sued the municipality, the court awarded EUR 1,230 (RON 5,500) in damages, plus an interest of over EUR 778 (RON 3,500), and court expenses of EUR 1,067 (RON 4,800). The Bucharest District I Tribunal, the Cluj-Napoca Tribunal, and the Cluj Tribunal all ruled in favor of the insurance company.

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