Council bosses in South Yorkshire spent nearly £5,000 unsuccessfully fighting a driver's £160 pothole compensation claim.
When Julie Williams' car hit a crater on the A57 Worksop Road last May, blowing a tyre, she submitted a claim to Rotherham Council for the cost of repairs, totalling £160.99.
She wrote to the council attaching photos of the pothole between South Anston and Worksop, which she said was 'extremely dangerous' as it was on a bend shortly after a 50mph sign.
But the council rejected her compensation claim and the matter ended up at Sheffield County Court on January 11, where a district judge awarded Mrs Williams the full £160.99 plus court fees of £50.
Her husband Peter was so infuriated that the council contested what he felt was a clear-cut case that he submitted a Freedom of Information request to find out how much the affair had cost.
He was stunned to find the council's total bill, including legal fees and staff wages, ran to £4,769.20 - nearly 30 times the original claim.
He slammed the decision to defend the case in court as a 'criminal use of rate payers' money.
"The council could have repaired 88 potholes with that money," he said.
"For it to spend this much defending the case, despite the clear evidence we provided to support our claim, is a criminal use of rate payers' money."
Rotherham Council defended its actions, saying: "Where the council considers that it has not acted negligently it will robustly defend claims as a matter of principle.
"Whilst occasionally a result will go against the council, this policy enables the council to successfully defend 92 per cent of highway-related claims that are made against it and consequently minimise the overall financial impact on the council."