Colorado Supreme Court Determines that a Piece of Playground Equipment on School Property Is Not Protected by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act

Colorado Supreme Court Determines that a Piece of Playground Equipment on School Property Is Not Protected by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act, Sports Litigation Alert Vol. 14, Iss. 13

In St. Vrain Valley Sch. Dist. RE-1J v. A.R.L., 2014 CO 33; 325 P.3d 1014; 2014 Colo. LEXIS 362, the plaintiff was playing on a piece of school equipment called a zip line when she fell and fractured her wrist. The court described the playground equipment as an apparatus. The defendants, who included the principal of the school where the playground was located, filed a motion to dismiss based on C.R.C.P. 12(b)(1) stating the court lacked jurisdiction based on the Colorado Governmental Immunities Act, (CGIA).

To read more (Subscription Service)

Update on whether Avalanches are in inherent risk of inbounds skiing reviewed by Appellate court in Colorado.

For background on the issues see Issue of whether avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing in Colorado headed for appeal. Even with this decision, this issue I am still betting will head to the Supreme Court of Colorado.

The first case in the two avalanche deaths that occurred several years ago inbound at ski areas has reached the appellate level. The court in Fleury v. IntraWest Winter Park Operations Corporation, 2014 Colo. App. LEXIS 242 held for the ski area stating that the Colorado Ski Safety Act included in its terms of inherent risks Avalanches.

For that reason, because an appeal is probably forthcoming and the time for filing for an appeal has just started to run, I’ll not review the case at this time.

If the case is not appealed…

To read the decision see Fleury v. IntraWest Winter Park Operations Corporation, 2014 Colo. App. LEXIS 242

What do you think? Leave a comment.

If you like this let your friends know or post it on FB, Twitter or LinkedIn

Copyright 2014 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law


Google+: +Recreation

Twitter: RecreationLaw

Facebook: Rec.Law.Now

Facebook Page: Outdoor Recreation & Adventure Travel Law

Mobile Site:

By Recreation Law      James H. Moss         #Authorrank

<rel=”author” link=”” />



#RecreationLaw,, #OutdoorLaw, #OutdoorRecreationLaw, #AdventureTravelLaw, #law, #TravelLaw, #JimMoss, #JamesHMoss, #Tourism, #AdventureTourism, #Rec-Law, #RiskManagement, #CyclingLaw, #BicyclingLaw, #FitnessLaw,, #Backpacking, #Hiking, #Mountaineering, #IceClimbing, #RockClimbing, #RopesCourse, #ChallengeCourse, #SummerCamp, #Camps, #YouthCamps, #Skiing, #Ski Areas, #Negligence, #Snowboarding, #RecreationLaw, #@RecreationLaw, #Cycling.Law, #SkiLaw, #Outside.Law, #Recreation.Law,, #OutdoorLaw, #RecreationLaw, #OutdoorRecreationLaw, #AdventureTravelLaw, #Law, #TravelLaw, #JimMoss, #JamesHMoss, #AttorneyatLaw, #Tourism, #AdventureTourism, #RecLaw, #RecLawBlog, #RecreationLawBlog, #RiskManagement, #HumanPowered, #HumanPoweredRecreation,# CyclingLaw, #BicyclingLaw, #FitnessLaw,, #Backpacking, #Hiking, #Mountaineering, #IceClimbing, #RockClimbing, #RopesCourse, #ChallengeCourse, #SummerCamp, #Camps, #YouthCamps, #Skiing, #Ski Areas, #Negligence, #Snowboarding, sport and recreation laws, ski law, cycling law, Colorado law, law for recreation and sport managers, bicycling and the law, cycling and the law, ski helmet law, skiers code, skiing accidents, Recreation Lawyer, Ski Lawyer, Paddlesports Lawyer, Cycling Lawyer, Recreational Lawyer, Fitness Lawyer, Rec Lawyer, Challenge Course Lawyer, Ropes Course Lawyer, Zip Line Lawyer, Rock Climbing Lawyer, Adventure Travel Lawyer, Outside Lawyer, Recreation Lawyer, Ski Lawyer, Paddlesports Lawyer, Cycling Lawyer, #RecreationalLawyer, #FitnessLawyer, #RecLawyer, #ChallengeCourseLawyer, #RopesCourseLawyer, #ZipLineLawyer, #RockClimbingLawyer, #AdventureTravelLawyer, #OutsideLawyer, Good Samaritan, Samaritan, First Aid, Winter Park Ski Area, Winter Park, Intawest, Avalanche, Inbounds, Inbounds Avalanche,

WordPress Tags: Update,Avalanches,Appellate,Colorado,Issue,decision,Supreme,Court,avalanche,deaths,areas,Fleury,IntraWest,Winter,Park,Operations,Corporation,Colo,LEXIS,area,Leave,Twitter,LinkedIn,Recreation,Edit,Email,Google,RecreationLaw,Facebook,Page,Outdoor,Adventure,Travel,Blog,Mobile,Site,James,Moss,Authorrank,author,OutdoorLaw,OutdoorRecreationLaw,AdventureTravelLaw,TravelLaw,JimMoss,JamesHMoss,Tourism,AdventureTourism,RiskManagement,CyclingLaw,BicyclingLaw,FitnessLaw,RopesCourse,ChallengeCourse,SummerCamp,Camps,YouthCamps,Negligence,SkiLaw,Outside,AttorneyatLaw,RecLaw,RecLawBlog,RecreationLawBlog,HumanPoweredRecreation,managers,helmet,accidents,Lawyer,Paddlesports,Recreational,Challenge,Course,Ropes,Line,Rock,RecreationalLawyer,FitnessLawyer,RecLawyer,ChallengeCourseLawyer,RopesCourseLawyer,ZipLineLawyer,RockClimbingLawyer,AdventureTravelLawyer,OutsideLawyer,Samaritan,Intawest,Inbounds,whether

Releases are legal documents and need to be written by an attorney that understands the law and the risks of your program/business/activity and your guests/members/clientele.

Wycoff v. Grace Community Church of the Assemblies of God, 2010 Colo. App. LEXIS 1832

The case is a little confusing to read because there was another case that was appealed by the same parties whom this case refers to. Additionally, the act of the trial court in reducing the damages is confusing. However, this case is a very clear example of how a badly written release is going to cost the church and its insurance company millions.

A church group had taken kids to a camp for a “Winterama 2005.” The church had rented the camp for the weekend. The plaintiff was 17 and not a member of the church. Her parents had paid a reduced fee for her to attend the activity. As part of that registration her mother signed a “Registration and information” form. One of the activities was pulling them behind an ATV on an inner tube on a frozen lake.

There was a large boulder embedded in the lake. On the second loop, the plaintiff’s inner tube hit the boulder breaking her back.

The plaintiff’s mother had signed the “Registration and Information” form. On the form was the following sentence.

I will not hold Grace Community Church or its participants responsible for any liability, which may result from participation.

The case went to trial, and the jury returned a $4M verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant and plaintiff appealed after the judge reduced the damages to the limits of the insurance policy of the church, $2M plus interest.

The appellate court first looked at Colorado case law on releases and the legislative history of § 13-22-107(3), C.R.S. 2010. That statute, C.R.S. § 13-22-107(3), was enacted to allow a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue. The statute, and the decision in Jones v. Dressel, 623 P.2d 370, 376 (Colo. 1981), has a requirement that the parental decision must be “informed” and with the intent to release the [defendant] from liability. Jones v. Dressel was the first Supreme Court review of releases in the state of Colorado as they applied to recreational activities.

The court looked at the language in the “Registration and Information” form to see if it informed the parents of the activities and risks their child would be undertaking. The court looked at the language and found:

There is no information in Grace’s one-page registration form describing the event activities, nothing describing the associated risks. Stating that the children would participate in “Winterama 2005 and all activities associated with it” does not indicate what the activities would involve and certainly does not suggest they would include ATV-towed inner-tube excursions around a frozen lake.

The court also looked at prior decisions concerning releases and found that “in every Colorado Supreme Court case upholding an exculpatory clause. The clause contained some reference to waiving personal injury claims based on the activity being engaged in.”

The court concluded that:

Grace’s [the defendant’s] form made no reference to the relevant activity or to waiving personal injury claims. The operative sentence (the third one in a paragraph) states only that plaintiff will not hold Grace “responsible for any liability which may result from participation.” Surrounding sentences address other issues: the first gives permission to attend; the second consents to medical treatment; and the fourth agrees to pick up disobedient children.
… nowhere does the form provide parents with information allowing them to assess the degree of risk and the extent of possible injuries from any activity. The form is legally insufficient to release plaintiff’s personal injury claims.

The court then looked at the second major issue that has been surfacing in many outdoor recreation cases of late. The plaintiff sued claiming a violation of the duties owed by the landowner, a premises liability claim. That means that the landowner owed a duty to the plaintiff to warn or eliminate dangers, which the landowner failed to do.

The defendant argued that it was not the landowner; it had just leased the land for the weekend. However, the court found this argument lacking. The premise’s liability statute § 13-21-115(1), C.R.S. 2010, defines landowner to include someone leasing the property.

This places two very important burdens on anyone leasing land or using land.

  1. They must know and identify the risks of the land before bringing their clients/guests/members on the land.
  2. The release must include premise liability language.

The second one is relatively easy to do; however, the effectiveness is going to be difficult. The first places a tremendous burden on anyone going to a camp, park or other place they do not own for the day, weekend or week.

  • Your insurance policy must provide coverage for this type of claim.
  • You need to inspect the land in advance, do a due diligence to make sure you know of any risks or dangers on the land.
  • You must inform your guests/members/clients of those risks.

The final issue that might be of some importance to readers is the court reviewed the legal concept of charitable immunity. At one time, charities could not be sued because they “did good” for mankind. That has evolved over time so that in most states charitable immunity no longer exists. At present, and with this court decision, the assets of the charity held may not be levied by a judgment. What that means is after someone receives a judgment against a charity, the plaintiff with the judgment then attempts to collect against the assets of the charity. Some of the assets may not be recovered by the judgment creditor because they are part of the charitable trust.

What does that mean? If you are a charity, buy insurance.

Of note in this case is the plaintiffs are the injured girl and her insurance company: The opinion states “Plaintiff and her insurer, intervenor American Medical Security Life Insurance Company (insurer).” Although set forth in the decision, her insurance company is probably suing under its right in the subrogation clause. A subrogation clause in an insurance policy says your insurance policy has the right to sue under your name or its own name against anyone who caused your damages that the insurance company reimbursed.


As I have said numerous times, your release must be written by an attorney that understands two things.

  1. Release law
  2. The activities you are going to engage in.
  3. The risks those activities present to your guests/members/clients.
  4. Any statutes that affect your activity and/or your guests/members/clients.

Any release should include a good review of the risks of the activities and a description of the activities so adults and parents can read and understand those risks. Any minor who can read and understand the risks should also sign the release as proof the child assumed the risk. Assumption of the risk works to win cases against minors when the release is thrown out or in those cases where a release cannot be used against a minor.

Find a good attorney that knows and understands your activities, those risks and the laws needed to write a release to protect you.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2010 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law,

Twitter: RecreationLaw
Facebook: Rec.Law.Now
Facebook Page: Outdoor Recreation & Adventure Travel Law


Keywords: #recreationlaw, #@recreationlaw,,,,,, #outdoor law, #recreation law, #outdoor recreation law, #adventure travel law, #law, #travel law, #Jim Moss, #James H. Moss, #attorney at law, #tourism, #adventure tourism, #rec-law, #rec-law blog, #recreation law, #recreation law blog, #risk management, #Human Powered, #human powered recreation,# cycling law, #bicycling law, #fitness law,, #backpacking, #hiking, #Mountaineering, #ice climbing, #rock climbing, #ropes course, #challenge course, #summer camp, #camps, #youth camps, #skiing, #ski areas, #negligence, #Colorado, # American Medical Security Life Insurance Company, # Grace Community Church, #minor, #release, #negligence,
Technorati Tags: ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Windows Live Tags: Registration,information,Colorado,Releases,attorney,guests,clientele,Wycoff,Grace,Church,Assemblies,Colo,LEXIS,example,cost,insurance,millions,Winterama,plaintiff,member,parents,tube,boulder,participants,participation,jury,verdict,defendant,policy,history,statute,decision,Jones,Dressel,requirement,Supreme,Court,event,decisions,clause,reference,injury,paragraph,permission,treatment,fourth,degree,extent,injuries,recreation,violation,duties,landowner,premises,dangers,argument,premise,clients,park,coverage,diligence,importance,readers,concept,charities,assets,judgment,Some,plaintiffs,girl,opinion,insurer,American,Medical,Life,Company,Although,Release,statutes,description,adults,Assumption,minors,Find,laws,Leave,Edit,Gmail,Twitter,RecreationLaw,Facebook,Page,Outdoor,Adventure,Travel,Blog,Keywords,Moss,James,tourism,management,Human,youth,areas,negligence,subrogation
WordPress Tags: Registration,information,Colorado,Releases,attorney,guests,clientele,Wycoff,Grace,Church,Assemblies,Colo,LEXIS,example,cost,insurance,millions,Winterama,plaintiff,member,parents,tube,boulder,participants,participation,jury,verdict,defendant,policy,history,statute,decision,Jones,Dressel,requirement,Supreme,Court,event,decisions,clause,reference,injury,paragraph,permission,treatment,fourth,degree,extent,injuries,recreation,violation,duties,landowner,premises,dangers,argument,premise,clients,park,coverage,diligence,importance,readers,concept,charities,assets,judgment,Some,plaintiffs,girl,opinion,insurer,American,Medical,Life,Company,Although,Release,statutes,description,adults,Assumption,minors,Find,laws,Leave,Edit,Gmail,Twitter,RecreationLaw,Facebook,Page,Outdoor,Adventure,Travel,Blog,Keywords,Moss,James,tourism,management,Human,youth,areas,negligence,subrogation
Enhanced by Zemanta