Archive for the ‘Recreational Activity’ Category

Rather Shallow – Man Broke His Neck Diving Into Lake; Risk Deemed Open and Obvious (IL)

September 16, 2015

Bujnowski v. Birchland, Inc. (Illinois)
(not published)

The plaintiff was visiting a recreational area operated by the defendant.  He dove off a pier into a lake on the property and broke his neck.  He sued the defendant alleging that the defendant had no employees monitoring the area, and that the defendant was negligent in failing to supervise or train customers properly on the use of the are and failing to warn them of the dangers of using the area.  The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that it did not owe a duty to plaintiff because the danger of diving into water was open and obvious.  The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

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Worst Seat in the House – Triable Issue as to Whether Park Had Notice of Dangerous Bleachers (AL)

August 18, 2015

Shirley v. Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority (Alabama)

Plaintiff was sitting on bleachers at Munny Sokol Park in Alabama watching a youth football game.  Certain welds on the bleachers broke, causing plaintiff to fall and suffer personal injury.  Plaintiff filed a complaint against the parks and recreation authority that owned the property, alleging negligence and wantonness.  Plaintiff later amended her complaint to assert a claim under the Alabama Extended Manufacturer’s Liability Doctrine against several fictitiously named defendants.  The property owner filed a motion for summary judgment arguing it was entitled to immunity under Alabama’s recreational use statute.  The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, plaintiff argued that the trial court improperly entered summary judgment because there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the park was being used for commercial purposes and whether the property owner had “actual knowledge or an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm” (both exceptions to the statutory immunity).

The Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama noted that plaintiff presented no evidence indicating that the use of the park was commercial in nature.  However, the Court found that the plaintiff did present evidence that the property owner had actual knowledge regarding the unreasonably dangerous condition of the bleachers and that it failed to guard or warn against the consequences.  The evidence established that an employee of the property owner arrived at the scene of the incident and commented, “I told them earlier to put a cone or a sign on this bleacher until we could get somebody out here to repair it.”  Another witness also confirmed that the the condition of the bleachers was known and should have been “coned off.”  The property owner disputed the facts, but the Court noted that it was required to review the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant.  Therefore, the Court reversed the decision and remanded the trial for further proceedings.

Bad Aim – Checking Out a Friend’s Firearm in Your Garage is Not a Recreational Activity (OH)

July 28, 2015

Lovegrove v. Stapleton (Ohio)

The plaintiff and the defendant were both experienced gunman who shared a common interest in competitive shooting.  Plaintiff and defendant participated together in a Tuesday night shooting league, and they would sometimes go to shooting ranges together on weekends.  In the summer of 2012, plaintiff drove to the defendant’s home to have the defendant notarize some paperwork for him.  Plaintiff brought his new gun with him, knowing that defendant would likely want to check out it out, which, as the evidence established, is something that happens often in the culture of the competitive shooting community.

Before entering defendant’s garage, plaintiff removed the magazine from the gun.  In the garage, he removed the gun from the holster on his waistband, checked the chamber, and set the gun on a workbench.  Defendant notarized plaintiff’s paperwork and then checked out the gun “dry-firing” it multiple times.  Defendant’s children came into the garage a couple of time, but were sent back into the house for their own safety.

Defendant stepped into the house to check on his wife, who was in the backyard.  Plaintiff picked up his paperwork and his gun, and he put the magazine back in the gun.  Since no round was chambered, he could not put on the gun’s safety.  Plaintiff turned around and saw defendant’s children standing in front of him wanting to show him a trophy.  Defendant placed the gun back on the workbench and told the children he would put his things back in his truck and then come inside.  Plaintiff ushered the children back into the house and closed the door.  As plaintiff was turning around he heard the gun go off.  The defendant had returned, picked up the gun from the workbench, and fired the gun.  The bullet hit the workbench and ricocheted, hitting plaintiff in the abdomen.

A year later, plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging that the defendant acted negligently and recklessly in shooting the gun.  The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that plaintiff was engaged in a recreational activity and that primary assumption of risk precluded plaintiff’s negligence claim.  Defendant also contended that he had not acted recklessly.  The trial court granted defendant’s motion, and plaintiff appealed.
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