Omaha driver wants reimbursement from city after manhole damage

When driving his Jeep Cherokee across a manhole in May, he never expected to pop the top
A routine drive on a busy Omaha street suddenly comes to a startling and expensive stop.
Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 11:02 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A routine drive on a busy Omaha street suddenly comes to a startling and expensive stop.

But the driver discovered he didn’t hit a pothole.

When driving his Jeep Cherokee across a manhole in May, Larry Goldstrom never expected to pop the top.

“Bam, the loudest bang I’ve ever heard. My tire blew the rim was bent you saw the picture. So I limped over to the parking area over there and I came back and saw this open manhole cover and steel manhole lying next to it,” said Goldstrom.

Larry says two bystanders pushed the heavy cover back on but soon after another vehicle popped it off again which he claims showed a defective Omaha city manhole.

“I want them to pay for a new tire, a new rim, and all the suspension work underneath,” said Goldstrom.

But his damage claim filed with the city of Omaha has been denied.

An assistant city attorney writes there’s no evidence that negligence or omission by a city employee caused the cover to come loose. So, state law doesn’t hold the city responsible and like potholes, if public works didn’t know about a loose manhole cover prior to the accident, the city is not liable.

But reviewing his photos right after the accident Larry sees patchwork around the manhole.

“They worked on it to reinforce it proving it was a problem they already knew about,” said Goldstrom.

Larry paid $1,600 in repairs.

Though his claim has been denied Larry says he won’t stop seeking reimbursement from the city for damage to his vehicle he says caused not by a pothole but a manhole.

The cost of repairs is at the small claims court level.

“Go before a judge I feel pretty confident with the evidence I have,” said Goldstrom.

Determined to show the city is at fault for manhole damage to his vehicle Larry Goldstrom won’t keep a lid on his claim.

“I think about that $1,600 every time I come up Farnam and I make sure I dodge that thing,” said Goldstrom.

The assistant city attorney says right after the accident public works found all manhole covers in the area secure and there’s no record of additional maintenance work on the one where the damage occurred.

However, a city investigator is expected to report back Wednesday on the driver’s claim of patchwork around it that he alleges is an indication the city knew that manhole had a problem.