|Legal Opinion: |
Text of Document: October 24, 1996
I have been unable to find any law or cases directly on the question of whether a city can require the user of streets to obtain a bond to cover damages to the streets.
As you have probably discovered, Town of Newport v. Brewer, 566 S.W.2d 873 (Tenn. 1978) held that a municipality can under negligence theory sue a carrier for damages arising from the carrier’s unreasonable use of the streets. That case appears to reflect the law in the United States generally. [See 53 ALR3d 1035.] However, that case may not support the bond requirement.
It was held in Steil v. City of Chattanooga, 152 S.W.2d 624 (Tenn. 1941) that a municipality could require a bond of a taxicab driver for personal or property damage. In that case, and others cited therein, [See especially p. 625.] the Court speaks of the broad police powers of cities to regulate their streets, including the imposition of such indemnity bonds. But in those cases the threshold question appeared to be whether express legislative authority for the bonds was found in the general law or charter. See in particular State ex rel. Johnson v. Bates, 30 S.W.2d 248 (Tenn. 1930).]
In short, you may have some trouble with the indemnity bond requirement.
What do you think?
Sidney D. Hemsley
Senior Law Consultant