The assumption of risk defense is still available when the claim is based on a condition of the land. This defense is called the open and obvious doctrine.

A landowner must protect invitees from hidden dangers. If the danger could have been seen or was seen, then it is open and obvious and the landowner must not protect the invitees from the danger.

Watkins, Jr., v St. Francis Camp on the Lake, 2010 Mich. App. LEXIS 1814

State: Michigan, Court of Appeals of Michigan

Plaintiff: Robert Vincent Watkins, Jr.

Defendant: St. Francis Camp on the Lake

Plaintiff Claims:

Defendant Defenses: Open and Obvious defect in the land

Holding: For the defendant

Year: 2010

The plaintiff was attending the defendant camp. The camp was run for people with special needs. The plaintiff suffered from cerebral palsy and was a quadriplegic. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was 34 years old.

At the camp, a water slide was created. The slide was a 100’ long tarp, 20’ wide and placed upon a hill. Water was prayed on the tarp along with soap. Some of the campers used inner tubes on the slide; others just went down on the buttocks.  

At the bottom was a little ditch, 2.5’ long 2’ wide and 12-18” deep. The ditch had mud and water in it. When someone going down slide hit the ditch it would flip them.

On the day before the incident, the plaintiff had gone down the slide four or five times. He would ride down the hill on an inner tube with a camp counselor in an inner tube behind the plaintiff. After each ride, the plaintiff and tubes would be loaded on a golf cart and taken to the top of the hill.

The second day the plaintiff was injured on the slide during the flip, injuring his foot. He had already gone down the slide twice before his injury.

The plaintiff sued for his injuries. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint, and the plaintiff appealed.

Analysis: making sense of the law based on these facts.

The basis for the dismissal was the condition of the land that caused the plaintiff’s injuries was open and obvious. The plaintiff argued that this was a case not based upon the land but based upon the actions of the defendant. The actions of the defendant would set up a negligence claim. A claim based upon the condition of the land would be determined on the duty owed by the landowner to the plaintiff as an invitee.

Under Michigan’s law, the duty owed by a landowner to an invite was:

Generally, a premises possessor owes a duty of care to an invitee to exercise reasonable care to protect the invitee from an unreasonable risk of harm caused by a dangerous condition on the land. This duty generally does not encompass a duty to protect an invitee from “open and obvious” dangers. However, if there are “special aspects” of a condition that make even an “open and obvious” danger “unreasonably dangerous,” the premises possessor maintains a duty to undertake reasonable precautions to protect invitees from such danger.

The appellate court also found the claims rose from the land; therefore, the liability was from the relationship between the landowner and the plaintiff-invitee.

That is, the question was whether defendant had a duty as the owner of the land to protect plaintiff from harm and thus provide a water slide activity that was free from danger by not allowing a ditch at the bottom of the slide to exist, which propelled participants into the air.

Even if actions of the defendants contributed to the injury it was not enough to alter the relationship to create a negligence claim.

Consequently, although some alleged conduct on the part of defendant may have been involved-i.e. failing to protect plaintiff from harm, allowing the ditch to form, and/or failing to train staff to recognize the danger involved in allowing participants to hit the ditch and be propelled into the air-this does not change the fact that, as a matter of law, this negligence claim was based on premises liability law.

Because the condition was open and obvious, one that the plaintiff knew about normally because they could have or should have seen it and in this case did see it and did encounter it, there was no liability owed by the landowner-defendant.

Plaintiff argued that because the counselor’s did not recognize the danger, the danger could not be open and obvious.  

However, simply because one counselor did not see any danger in operating the slide (all the evidence pointed to the conclusion that all campers enjoyed the slide) does not result in a conclusion that an average user of ordinary intelligence would not have been able to discover the danger and the risk presented upon casual inspection by going down a water slide, hitting the ditch, and flipping into the air.

Evidence of prior injuries would be needed to convert the actions of the counselors from that of a landowner to simple defendants. If the counselors kept the slide open after a person had been injured and then the plaintiff received his injury, then the open and oblivious claim may not work.

This argument fails for the simple reason that in a premises liability action when determining whether a condition is open and obvious, “the fact-finder must consider the ‘condition of the premises,’ not the condition of the plaintiff.”

The appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the case by the trial court.

So Now What?

In this specific case, you can look at the open and obvious defense as similar to the defense of assumption of the risk.

More importantly always examine every possible defense when you are faced with a suit. Here, the answer was easy, although having campers launched into the air may not provide an open and obvious defense in all states.

If you are a camp or landowner, what you need to constantly be aware of and even search for are the non-open and obvious dangers on the land. Those things that cannot be seen by casual observation or that should have been seen by observation are what will hold you liable.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Watkins, Jr., v St. Francis Camp on the Lake, 2010 Mich. App. Lexis 1814

Watkins, Jr., v St. Francis Camp on the Lake, 2010 Mich. App. Lexis 1814

Robert Vincent Watkins, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant, v St. Francis camp on the lake, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 292578

Court of Appeals of Michigan

2010 Mich. App. LEXIS 1814

September 28, 2010, Decided

NOTICE: THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED OPINION. IN ACCORDANCE WITH MICHIGAN COURT OF APPEALS RULES, UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS ARE NOT PRECEDENTIALLY BINDING UNDER THE RULES OF STARE DECISIS.

PRIOR HISTORY: [*1]

Hillsdale Circuit Court. LC No. 08-000601-NI.

CORE TERMS: water slide, ditch, camper, slide, went down, premises liability, amend, times, counselor, tube, matter of law, nuisance, flipped, invitee, futile, hit, air, obvious danger, pleaded, bottom, rolled, feet, leave to amend, physical condition, duty to protect, duty of care, liability case, liability claim, dangerous condition, ordinary intelligence

JUDGES: Before: MURPHY, C.J., and SAWYER and MURRAY, JJ. MURPHY, C.J. (concurring).

OPINION

PER CURIAM.

Plaintiff Robert Watkins, Jr., appeals by leave granted the trial court’s June 1, 2009, order granting defendant summary disposition, and its order denying his motion to amend. We affirm.

I. FACTS

Plaintiff, who is disabled, was injured using a water slide at a summer camp that defendant St. Francis Camp on the Lake runs for people with special needs. Plaintiff, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair because he is a quadriplegic, was approximately 34 years old at the time of the accident and was living with his parents. At the time of the accident, plaintiff was employed at the Roscommon county courthouse as a mail clerk, where he worked for the previous 15 years for about 20 hours per week. Plaintiff did not have a legal guardian.

A water slide was at the camp. The water slide consisted of a tarp, which was approximately 100 feet long and 20 feet wide, placed on a hill. Water was then sprayed onto the tarp and soap was put onto the campers so that the campers would slide down the tarp faster. Some of the campers would use inner tubes [*2] when going down the hill and some would slide down the hill on their buttocks. At the bottom of the slide was a “little ditch,” which was approximately two and one-half feet long, two feet wide, and 12 to 18 inches deep. There was water and mud in the ditch, and if a camper hit the ditch when sliding down the hill, which “pretty much everybody hit the ditch,” the camper would flip.

Robert Seger was a camp counselor while plaintiff was at the camp. Seger indicated that the camp basically “let the campers decide what they feel they can and can’t do. They try not to place any limitations on anybody. They want them to have the best experience possible there.” Camp counselors kept notes throughout the week about the campers. Seger’s notes about plaintiff reflected, “July 15th, Sunday. Robert W. excited to be at the new camp. Very happy and pleasant all day. Likes to try new things and is determined to do as much as he can do on his own.” Seger’s notes also reflected, “July 17th, Tuesday. Robert W. says he really likes the camp. The best one he has been to. Took him on the slip and slide. He does not let his physical limitations stop him from trying anything new. He loves the water slide.” [*3] 1

1 Plaintiff’s mother completed plaintiff’s camper medical information form and indicated on the form that plaintiff has suffered from cerebral palsy since birth, was a quadriplegic, used an electric wheelchair, and had a colostomy as well as arthritis and speech problems. One of the questions on the form provided, “Should camper’s activities be limited due to physical condition or illness?” Plaintiff’s mother circled “Yes” and explained “Spine/disc narrowing-disc bulging, and disc herniation.”

Seger testified that, on Tuesday, plaintiff went down the water slide four or five times. Seger testified that plaintiff was loaded onto a tube at the top of the hill, then a camp counselor sat in a tube behind plaintiff’s tube and went down the hill holding onto plaintiff’s tube. Plaintiff was subsequently loaded onto a golf cart and driven back up to the top of the hill. On Wednesday, plaintiff went down the water slide approximately four more times. Seger testified:

So Robby rolled a couple times, got up laughing. It was fine the first day. And that’s when, I believe the second day, he really took a good flip. Elizabeth went down with him on the slide as well. I believe that’s the day he might [*4] have, when he rolled might have hit his foot on the ground too hard. He might have caught it in the ditch down at the bottom. I am not quite too sure exactly the circumstances that led to bones being broken in his foot. But when he complained about it I noticed the bruising and said something to the nurse and had her examine it.

Seger further testified regarding the last two times that plaintiff went down the water slide on Wednesday:

The third time I do remember him flipping. He went one time after that which he flipped as well. So-I’m sorry. Like I said, I can’t necessarily-I don’t remember specific times, but his last two times he flipped really hard. And that’s when he decided he was done. He didn’t want to go anymore. And he had some scratches caused from the gravel from the rolling over. And I think I remember that there was-he complained-got the wind knocked out of him when they rolled over, because he had lain there for a bit. And we went down to check everything out, make sure he was okay, checked his colostomy bag. Because I mean, like I said, he rolled over pretty good. And he said he just kind of had the wind knocked out of him but he was fine. So we got him cleaned up, wiped [*5] the mud off of his face, put him back in the golf cart, took him to the top of the hill. And that was close to the end of the activity, but he didn’t want to go anymore anyways.

On March 6, 2008, plaintiff filed a complaint, which alleged the following:

7. On or about July 19, 2007, the Defendant and its agents and employees, including all camp instructors and supervisors, owed certain duties and obligations to the Plaintiff and those similarly situated, including but not limited to:

a. Ensuring that they were kept from harm;

b. Utilizing all means and methods to ensure that they would not cause serious and permanent injury to Plaintiff;

c. To abide by the wishes and request of any guardian or parent of the Plaintiff or other similar situated individuals so as to ensure that the Plaintiff was not exposed to an increase[d] risk of harm and injury in the activities undertaken during said time at the camp;

d. To ensure that individuals attending the facility such as the Plaintiff herein were protected from severe and permanent injury and damage during the course of normal activity;

e. To ensure that injuries and damages sustained by the Plaintiff or other[s] similar[ly] situated while staying [*6] at the camp were properly and adequately diagnosed and treated and then appropriate and prompt medical attention was provided to these individuals and the Plaintiff herein by qualified and competent medical professionals;

f. To ensure that the facility properly and adequately trained its personnel to recognize the dangers in activities, which they may undertake with campers so as to reduce or eliminate the danger for severe and permanent injury and damage; and

g. Such other duties and obligations as may be identified throughout the course of discovery.

On April 17, 2009, defendant moved for summary disposition, pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)10), arguing that this was a premises liability case and that the alleged hazard was open and obvious. Plaintiff moved to amend his complaint in order to add a claim of nuisance in fact and moved to amend the scheduling order in order to extend scheduling dates 60 days so that he would have enough time to complete discovery. Plaintiff also opposed defendant’s motion.

At the hearing on the motion to amend the complaint, the trial court concluded:

This isn’t a nuisance case. This isn’t an issue that’s something open to the general public. It is for simply the [*7] private campers. You’ve got a negligence action, I think. It would appear that Mr. Watkins-at least from the briefs I’ve read thus far, subject to the arguments of both of you, I believe it’s Friday-didn’t even agree to this activity. It would appear that he simply was picked up out of a wheelchair, put on an inner tube, and he was accompanied by a counselor down the hill. This isn’t a nuisance case, it’s a negligence case. Doesn’t even appear to be a premises liability case.

So I think we’re-it would be futile to amend the complaint at this time. We’ll proceed with the complaint as drafted . . . .

At the hearing, the trial court also indicated that it was denying plaintiff’s request to have the scheduling order dates extended.

At the subsequent hearing on defendant’s motion for summary disposition, the trial court held:

This case has been described as a premises liability case. The reason the Court doesn’t consider it a negligence case in general is that I’m not sitting here with a patient that — or an individual that is not cognizant of what is going on around him. The staff followed his directions.

* * *

[I]n this particular case I’m dealing with a ditch at the bottom of a hill where [*8] water accumulates. As I have described here, based on the depositions, the condition was open, the condition was obvious, it was observed by Mr. Watkins, it was observed by everyone around. This could not be expected that this would result in a serious injury-severe injury. The condition of the premises cannot be considered unreasonable. You don’t have a situation where we could have an especially high likelihood of injury.

Hence, the trial court concluded that defendant’s motion for summary disposition should be granted because plaintiff’s claims were based on premises liability law and the condition was open and obvious and without special aspects that would remove the condition from the open and obvious danger doctrine. The trial court noted, however, that the claim relating to the failure to obtain proper medical services in a timely fashion remained pending. At the end of the hearing on the motion for summary disposition, the trial court entertained plaintiff’s motion for entry of order to dismiss the case without prejudice, which the trial court also granted.

II. ANALYSIS

Plaintiff argues that his claims of negligence should not have been summarily dismissed as claims sounding only [*9] in premises liability because it was defendant’s conduct in not properly and adequately training its personnel to recognize the dangers in activities that led to his injuries. Further, an objective reading of the complaint results in a finding that the negligence clearly involved the conduct of individuals with regard to the water slide activity. Thus, plaintiff’s claims should not have been dismissed on the basis of premises liability law because premises liability law does not apply to conduct.

We review de novo a trial court’s decision to grant summary disposition. Coblentz v City of Novi, 475 Mich 558, 567; 719 NW2d 73 (2006). We review the record in the same manner as the trial court to determine whether the movant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Morales v Auto-Owners Ins, 458 Mich 288, 294; 582 NW2d 776 (1998). A motion under MCR 2.116(C)(10) tests the factual sufficiency of the complaint. Maiden v Rozwood, 461 Mich 109, 120; 597 NW2d 817 (1999). In evaluating a motion for summary disposition brought under this subsection, a reviewing court considers affidavits, pleadings, depositions, admissions and other evidence submitted by the parties, MCR 2.116(G)(5), in the [*10] light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Coblentz, 475 Mich at 567-568. Where the proffered evidence fails to establish a genuine issue regarding any material fact, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. MCR 2.116(C)(10); MCR 2.116(G)(4); Coblentz, 475 Mich at 568.

Generally, where an injury arises out of a condition on the land, rather than conduct or activity, the action lies in premises liability. James v Alberts, 464 Mich 12, 18-19; 626 NW2d 158 (2001); Laier v Kitchen, 266 Mich App 482, 493; 702 NW2d 199 (2005). In other words:

In a premises liability claim, liability emanates merely from the defendant’s duty as an owner, possessor, or occupier of land. However, that does not preclude a separate claim grounded on an independent theory of liability based on the defendant’s conduct . . . . [Id.]

Premises liability law has been summarized by the Michigan Supreme Court as follows:

Generally, a premises possessor owes a duty of care to an invitee to exercise reasonable care to protect the invitee from an unreasonable risk of harm caused by a dangerous condition on the land. This duty generally does not encompass a duty to protect an invitee from “open [*11] and obvious” dangers. However, if there are “special aspects” of a condition that make even an “open and obvious” danger “unreasonably dangerous,” the premises possessor maintains a duty to undertake reasonable precautions to protect invitees from such danger. [Mann v Shusteric Enterprises, Inc, 470 Mich 320, 328; 683 NW2d 573 (2004) (citations omitted).]

The test to determine if a danger is open and obvious is whether an average user of ordinary intelligence would have been able to discover the danger and the risk presented upon casual inspection. Joyce v Rubin, 249 Mich App 231, 238; 642 NW2d 360 (2002).

We conclude, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff, that defendant’s alleged liability emanated from its duty as the owner of the land. Coblentz, 475 Mich at 568; Laier, 266 Mich App at 493. That is, the question was whether defendant had a duty as the owner of the land to protect plaintiff from harm and thus provide a water slide activity that was free from danger by not allowing a ditch at the bottom of the slide to exist, which propelled participants into the air. Id. The theory of liability directly related to a condition on the land, i.e. the premises. James, 464 Mich at 18-19. [*12] Consequently, although some alleged conduct on the part of defendant may have been involved-i.e. failing to protect plaintiff from harm, allowing the ditch to form, and/or failing to train staff to recognize the danger involved in allowing participants to hit the ditch and be propelled into the air-this does not change the fact that, as a matter of law, this negligence claim was based on premises liability law. Bertrand v Alan Ford, Inc, 449 Mich 606, 609; 537 NW2d 185 (1995); Laier, 266 Mich App at 489. 2 Indeed, in Laier we specifically held that the open and obvious doctrine applied to a claim pleaded as “a failure to warn of a dangerous condition or as a breach of a duty in allowing the dangerous condition to exist.” Id. at 489 (emphasis added). Accordingly, the trial court correctly determined that this case was based on premises liability law and analyzed the case under that theory. Id.

2 That is, of course, except for the negligence claim related to plaintiff’s subsequent care and treatment at the camp, which the trial court indicated remained pending, at least until the order dismissing the case without prejudice.

The undisputed facts reveal that the condition was also open and [*13] obvious. Joyce, 249 Mich App at 238. The testimony reflected that almost every time a camper went down the water slide, they hit the ditch and flipped or became covered in mud. In addition, plaintiff specifically testified that before he went down the water slide, he saw other people go down the water slide and fly into the air. Further, the testimony established that plaintiff went down the water slide several times before he was injured and that plaintiff was enjoying the water slide. We find on the record before us that an average user of ordinary intelligence would have been able to discover the danger and the risk presented upon casual inspection. Id. Based on the foregoing, the danger of going down the water slide, hitting the ditch, and flipping into the air, was open and obvious. Id.

Plaintiff argues that because a counselor at the camp did not recognize the danger, there was genuine issue of material fact on whether the condition was open and obvious. However, simply because one counselor did not see any danger in operating the slide (all the evidence pointed to the conclusion that all campers enjoyed the slide) does not result in a conclusion that an average user of ordinary [*14] intelligence would not have been able to discover the danger and the risk presented upon casual inspection by going down a water slide, hitting the ditch, and flipping into the air. Joyce, 249 Mich App at 238. Additionally, there was no evidence of prior injuries. Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to plaintiff, there is no genuine issue of material fact whether the condition was open and obvious, Coblentz, 475 Mich at 567-568, and no special aspects to this condition were presented. Lugo v Ameritech Corp, 464 Mich 512, 516-520; 629 NW2d 384 (2001). Hence, plaintiff’s claim was barred by the open and obvious doctrine.

In addition, plaintiff argues that defendant should have known or anticipated that, given plaintiff’s physical condition and his parent’s requested restrictions, plaintiff could have been hurt if propelled into the air after hitting the ditch. This argument fails for the simple reason that in a premises liability action when determining whether a condition is open and obvious, “the fact-finder must consider the ‘condition of the premises,’ not the condition of the plaintiff.” Mann, 470 Mich at 329. Hence, plaintiff’s physical condition was not pertinent to [*15] the determination that the condition was open and obvious. Id.

Plaintiff also argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied him the opportunity to amend his pleadings with additional theories of ordinary negligence. The grant or denial of leave to amend is within the trial court’s discretion. Weymers v Khera, 454 Mich 639, 654; 563 NW2d 647 (1997). Thus, “[we] will not reverse a trial court’s decision regarding leave to amend unless it constituted an abuse of discretion that resulted in injustice.” PT Today, Inc v Comm’r of the Office of Financial & Ins Servs, 270 Mich App 110, 142; 715 NW2d 398 (2006). “Leave to amend the pleadings should be freely granted to the nonprevailing party upon a grant of summary disposition unless the amendment would be futile or otherwise unjustified.” Lewandowski v Nuclear Mgt, Co, LLC, 272 Mich App 120, 126-127; 724 NW2d 718 (2006). Specifically, “[a]n amendment is futile where the paragraphs or counts the plaintiff seeks to add merely restate, or slightly elaborate on, allegations already pleaded.” Dowerk v Oxford Charter Twp, 233 Mich App 62, 76; 592 NW2d 724 (1998).

For two reasons the trial court did not abuse it’s discretion. First, [*16] the exclusive focus of plaintiff’s motion to amend was to amend the complaint to allege a “nuisance”, and plaintiff does not challenge the trial court’s conclusion that nuisance is not properly pleaded under these facts. Second, an amendment would have been futile because plaintiff’s alleged additional theories of ordinary negligence merely restated, and slightly elaborated on, the theories of negligence that plaintiff already pleaded. Id. And, as already stated above, the open and obvious doctrine applied because defendant’s alleged liability emanated from defendant’s duty as the owner of the land to protect plaintiff from harm, including in allowing the danger to exist. Bertrand, 449 Mich at 609; Laier, 266 Mich App at 493. In other words, the open and obvious doctrine applied to plaintiff’s alleged theories of negligence, which were set forth in his complaint, as well as plaintiff’s alleged additional theories of ordinary negligence (except as noted in footnote 2, supra) because defendant’s alleged liability emanated from defendant’s duty as the owner of the land to protect plaintiff from harm. Id. Thus, there was no abuse of discretion that resulted in an injustice because granting [*17] plaintiff leave to amend his complaint would have been futile. Dowerk, 233 Mich App at 76; Weymers, 454 Mich at 654.

Affirmed.

/s/ David H. Sawyer

/s/ Christopher M. Murray

CONCUR BY: William B. Murphy

CONCUR

MURPHY, C.J. (concurring).

I find it unnecessary to determine whether plaintiff’s lawsuit sounded solely in premises liability law. Assuming that plaintiff alleged an independent cause of action on a pure negligence theory, I would hold, as a matter of law, that defendant owed no specific duty of care to plaintiff that encompassed protecting him from or keeping him off the water slide. I would also analyze the premises liability claim in a slightly different manner. Accordingly, I respectfully concur.

“The elements of an action for negligence are (i) duty, (ii) general standard of care, (iii) specific standard of care, (iv) cause in fact, (v) legal or proximate cause, and (vi) damage.” Moning v Alfono, 400 Mich 425, 437; 254 NW2d 759 (1977). As a general rule, there is no common law duty that obligates one person to protect another person from danger. Dawe v Dr Reuven Bar-Levav & Associates, PC, 485 Mich 20, 25; 780 NW2d 272 (2010). An exception exists when there is a special relationship between a plaintiff [*18] and the defendant. Id. at 25-26. The Dawe Court, quoting Williams v Cunningham Drug Stores, Inc, 429 Mich 495, 499; 418 NW2d 381 (1988), observed:

“The rationale behind imposing a duty to protect in these special relationships is based on control. In each situation one person entrusts himself to the control and protection of another, with a consequent loss of control to protect himself. The duty to protect is imposed upon the person in control because he is best able to provide a place of safety.” [Dawe, 485 Mich at 26.]

Here, plaintiff’s allegations that presumably sounded in negligence were in the nature of claims that defendant had failed to protect him from or keep him off the water slide. Despite his physical limitations, plaintiff is an adult who was fully aware of the ditch at the end of the water slide, and there is nothing in the record to suggest that he was incapable of appreciating any potential dangers, nor that he was incapable of making his own informed decision whether to engage in the activity of using the water slide. The record reflects that plaintiff did not have a guardian and that he was employed as a mail clerk. This case does not present a situation in which plaintiff [*19] entrusted himself to the control and protection of defendant, as he never lost the ability to protect himself, which could have been accomplished by simply declining to participate in the activity. Defendant never forced plaintiff to use the water slide. Indeed, plaintiff later decided against further using the slide. I would hold, as a matter of law, that defendant owed no specific duty of care to plaintiff that encompassed protecting him from or keeping him off the water slide.

With respect to plaintiff’s claims predicated on premises liability law, this case is not truly one that concerns the open and obvious danger doctrine. Rather, we have a situation in which defendant had no duty because plaintiff had actual knowledge of the hazard and chose to proceed. Plaintiff knew that camp patrons, including himself, had flipped over in the ditch, considering that he had slid down the slide and flipped previously, and given that he observed others doing the same. As indicated in Bertrand v Alan Ford, Inc, 449 Mich 606, 610; 537 NW2d 185 (1995), liability will not be imposed on a landowner where a hazard is known or is open and obvious. “[T]he open and obvious doctrine will cut off liability [*20] if the invitee should have discovered the condition and realized its danger.” Id. at 611 (emphasis added). Thus, liability or a duty evaporates when a danger is open and obvious, as it should have been discovered, or when the danger was actually known, as it had been discovered, which is the case here. Plaintiff’s premises liability claim thus fails, as I do not find that the condition remained unreasonably dangerous despite plaintiff’s knowledge of it. Id.

In all other respects, I agree with the majority’s opinion.

I respectfully concur.

/s/ William B. Murphy


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Camp held liable when a camper misunderstands instructions, and plaintiff was not paying attention.

Gamze v Camp Sea-Gull, Inc., 2012 Mich. App. LEXIS 1227 (Mich App 2012)

Would you have ever guessed that capture the flag would lead to a lawsuit?

This case was dismissed by the trial court on a summary disposition which is called a motion for summary judgment in most jurisdictions. The case had been dismissed before trial because the trial court found that:

I can’t see where the camp and Mr. Schulman did anything wrong. I can’t see where this individual’s grabbing of the marker was a foreseeable event by the camp and those in charge of this particular camp and the camp’s owner.

The case arose at a summer camp when the campers were play capture the flag. At either end of the field, there was a circle with a pole and a flag on top of the pole. The pole was to locate the flag. The flag was a piece of cloth lying at the base on the ground within the circle.

One of the girls either was not told what the flag was or misunderstood what the flag was and instead of grabbing the flag lying on the ground grabbed the pole and started running. The plaintiff ran into the bottom of the pole which had a metal stake which hit her in the mount. The plaintiff lost one tooth, and three other teeth were broken.

The plaintiff sued claiming negligence and claims for premise’s liability. Premise’s liability is the legal theory that based on the type of person you are the duty owed by the land owner changes. Since the plaintiff was on the land, she claimed the landowner/defendant had not kept her safe to the legal standard required.

Summary of the case

The court first looked at the Definition of Negligence under Michigan Law. The elements to prove negligence in Michigan are identical to the majority of other states. “The elements of a negligence claim are “(1) a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, (2) a breach of that duty, (3) causation, and (4) damages.”

The court then determined that the issue the trial court had decided was that there was no duty owed to the plaintiff. The court then defined how a duty was to be determined.

“When determining whether a duty should be imposed, the ultimate inquiry is “whether the social benefits of imposing a duty outweigh the social costs of imposing a duty.””

“This inquiry involves considering, among any other relevant considerations, the relationship of the parties, the foreseeability of the harm, the burden on the defendant, and the nature of the risk presented.” But the most important factor is the relationship of the parties.

The court found that the defendant owed a duty to provide proper instructions on how the game of capture the flag was to be played.

In 2007, Gamze was a summer camper at the Camp. She and her family entrusted defendants with her safety during her stay. It was foreseeable that if the campers were not properly instructed, then a camper could pick up the actual flagpole instead of picking up the flag/towel lying on the ground next to the flagpole. It is also foreseeable that, if a camper did remove the flagpole from the ground, the camper could injure another camper while running with the pole. Finally, the burden to properly instruct the campers to pick up the towel from the ground is negligible.

Once it is determined that the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care, then the reasonableness of the defendant’s conduct is a question of fact for the jury.

The court also looked at whether the injury was proximately caused by the actions of the defendant. “Proximate cause normally involves examining the foreseeability of consequences and whether a defendant should be held liable for those consequences.” However, the court held that proximate cause was a question for the jury.

The final issue was the premise’s liability claim. The court agreed with the trial court and upheld the dismissal of the claim. The plaintiff was an invitee to the land, and as such she was owed a “duty to “‘exercise reasonable care to protect [her] from an unreasonable risk of harm caused by a dangerous condition on the land.‘””

The court found that the plaintiff was not harmed by a dangerous condition on the land. The danger was solely caused by the actions of the other campers not an inherent condition of the premises.

The appellate court sent the case back to the trial court on the issue of whether the camp was negligent in the way it instructed and ran the capture the flag game.

So Now What?

Kids get hurt. There is not much you can do about that, and if you can, you have probably stopped the earth from rotating. There was not much you can do here from a legal perspective to stop this litigation except tell parent’s things they should already know.

Kids get hurt. When your bring child to this camp, we will do everything we can to keep your child safe. However, we cannot protect your child from everything, much of anything. Between the outdoors, you not being here and other campers all sorts of injuries occur.

Do you understand that when you bring your child to this camp, your child can be hurt?

You could keep campers from playing games, or you could keep young girls who are being chased from running without looking where they are going. However, I think that earth rotation thing will be easier.

Plaintiff: Jonathan C. Gamze, as Next Friend for Julie Gamze,

 

Defendant: Camp Sea-Gull, Inc. and William P. Schulman, Defendants-Appellees, and Emily Lisner, Defendant

 

Plaintiff Claims: negligence and premises liability

 

Defendant Defenses: No duty and injury not caused by the premises

 

Holding: Premises liability claim was dismissed and the case was returned for trial on the negligence claim.

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Gamze v Camp Sea-Gull, Inc., 2012 Mich. App. LEXIS 1227 (Mich App 2012)

Gamze v Camp Sea-Gull, Inc., 2012 Mich. App. LEXIS 1227 (Mich App 2012)

JONATHAN C. GAMZE, as Next Friend for JULIE GAMZE, a Minor, Plaintiff-Appellant, v CAMP SEA-GULL, INC. and WILLIAM P. SCHULMAN, Defendants-Appellees, and EMILY LISNER, Defendant.

No. 299433

COURT OF APPEALS OF MICHIGAN

2012 Mich. App. LEXIS 1227

June 21, 2012, Decided

NOTICE: THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED OPINION. IN ACCORDANCE WITH MICHIGAN COURT OF APPEALS RULES, UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS ARE NOT PRECEDENTIALLY BINDING UNDER THE RULES OF STARE DECISIS.

PRIOR HISTORY: [*1]

Charlevoix Circuit Court. LC No. 09-054822-NO.

CORE TERMS: camper, flag, flagpole, towel, capture, foreseeable, premises liability, team’s, material fact, circle, lying, pole, matter of law, genuine issues, proximate cause, proximately, counselor, favorable, causation, grabbing, owed, top, pick, order granting, negligence claim, final order, proper instructions, dangerous condition, foreseeability, depositions

JUDGES: Before: WILDER, P.J., and HOEKSTRA and BORRELLO, JJ.

OPINION

Per Curiam.

In this case, plaintiff appeals from an order granting summary disposition in favor of defendants1 Camp Sea-Gull, Inc. (the Camp) and William Schulman, a part-owner and associate director of the Camp, on plaintiff’s claims of negligence and premises liability. Because genuine issues of material fact remain regarding plaintiff’s negligence claim, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.2

1 Emily Lisner was dismissed by stipulation and is not involved in this appeal. Thus, our reference to “defendants” will refer to appellees.

2 Defendants have raised a question as to this Court’s jurisdiction over the appeal. Plaintiff filed the initial appeal of the order granting summary disposition before Lisner had been dismissed from the case. Accordingly, this Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Gamze v Camp Sea-Gull, Inc, unpublished order of the Court of Appeals, entered July 13, 2010 (Docket No. 298202). We informed plaintiff, however, that he could seek to appeal the grant of summary disposition by filing a delayed application for leave under MCR 7.205(F). Defendants [*2] subsequently requested that the trial court tax their costs against plaintiff. On July 29, 2010, the trial court denied this motion except for a $20 motion fee. Plaintiff then filed the current appeal. The arguments on appeal do not concern the motion for costs but, instead, are exclusively aimed at the trial court’s decision to grant the motion for summary disposition.

When an appeal of right is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or is not timely filed, an appellant may file an application for leave to appeal up to 12 months after entry of the final order to be appealed. MCR 7.205(F)(1) and (F)(3). Plaintiff filed this appeal on August 2, 2010, less than 12 months after May 21, 2010. Given the trial court’s notation in the orders below concerning which order was–or was not–intended as the final order in this case, we treat plaintiff’s claim of appeal as an application for leave and hereby grant it. MCR 7.205(D)(2); see also In re Morton, 258 Mich App 507, 508 n 2; 671 NW2d 570 (2003).

I. BASIC FACTS

Julie Gamze and defendant Emily Lisner were both campers at the Camp in the summer of 2007. As part of a “Pirate Day” on July 15, 2007, the Camp organized a game of capture the flag on a [*3] large field divided into two halves. In the middle of each half was a circle, and in the middle of the circle was a five-foot tall flagpole3 with a colored flag on top. While the object of the game was to “capture” the opposing team’s “flag,” the “flag” to be seized was actually a piece of cloth or towel lying on the ground at the base of the flagpole. Participants were not supposed to attempt to capture the flag on top of the pole or the pole itself. Lisner testified that no one told her that the flagpole flag was not the correct flag to capture, and the counselor who explained the rules does not remember if she clarified that point. In the course of the game, Lisner grabbed the flagpole and began running with it. Gamze was running nearby, being chased by another camper, and the metal stake at the bottom end of the flagpole hit her in the mouth. She lost one tooth, and three others were broken.

3 The flagpole also had a metal tapered end or “stake” so it could be inserted and anchored into the ground.

Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging negligence and premises liability. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition and stated the following at the hearing:

I [*4] can’t see where the camp and Mr. Schulman did anything wrong. I can’t see where this individual’s grabbing of the marker was a foreseeable event by the camp and those in charge of this particular camp and the camp’s owner.

Anything that they did or failed to do was not the proximate cause of this Plaintiff’s injury. And, I don’t believe there is any material facts that are in dispute that would prevent the granting for the Motion for Summary Disposition under [MCR 2.116(C)(10)]. So that’s my ruling.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

This Court reviews de novo a trial court’s decision on a motion for summary disposition. Auto Club Group Ins Co v Burchell, 249 Mich App 468, 479; 642 NW2d 406 (2001). When reviewing a motion brought under MCR 2.116(C)(10), we consider the pleadings, admissions, and other evidence submitted by the parties in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Brown v Brown, 478 Mich 545, 551-552; 739 NW2d 313 (2007). A grant of summary disposition “is appropriate if there is no genuine issue regarding any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Id. at 552.

III. ANALYSIS

A. NEGLIGENCE

The elements of a negligence claim are “(1) a duty [*5] owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, (2) a breach of that duty, (3) causation, and (4) damages.” Case v Consumers Power Co, 463 Mich 1, 6; 615 NW2d 17 (2000). It is not entirely clear which element(s) the trial court found to be deficient in plaintiff’s claim. While only explicitly referencing causation, the trial court’s statement seemed to encompass three of the elements: duty (“I can’t see where this individual’s grabbing of the marker was a foreseeable event . . . .”; breach (“I can’t see where the [defendants] did anything wrong.”; and causation (“[a]nything that they did or failed to do was not the proximate cause of this Plaintiff’s injury.”). With the damages element not being disputed, we will address the remaining three elements.

The question of whether a defendant owes a plaintiff a duty of care is a question of law. Cummins v Robinson Twp, 283 Mich App 677, 692; 770 NW2d 421 (2009). When determining whether a duty should be imposed, the ultimate inquiry is “whether the social benefits of imposing a duty outweigh the social costs of imposing a duty.” In re Certified Question from Fourteenth Dist Court of Appeals of Texas, 479 Mich 498, 505; 740 NW2d 206 (2007). “This inquiry [*6] involves considering, among any other relevant considerations, the relationship of the parties, the foreseeability of the harm, the burden on the defendant, and the nature of the risk presented.” Id. (quotation marks omitted). But the most important factor is the relationship of the parties. Id.

Here, we conclude that defendants owed Gamze a duty to provide proper instructions for the game of “capture the flag.” In 2007, Gamze was a summer camper at the Camp. She and her family entrusted defendants with her safety during her stay. It was foreseeable that if the campers were not properly instructed, then a camper could pick up the actual flagpole instead of picking up the flag/towel lying on the ground next to the flagpole. It is also foreseeable that, if a camper did remove the flagpole from the ground, the camper could injure another camper while running with the pole.4 Finally, the burden to properly instruct the campers to pick up the towel from the ground is negligible.

4 This is especially foreseeable when the opposing team’s goal is to pursue and tag the flag carrier.

Once the existence of a duty toward Gamze is established, the reasonableness of the defendant’s conduct is a question [*7] of fact for the jury. Arias v Talon Development Group, Inc, 239 Mich App 265, 268; 608 NW2d 484 (2000). Thus, the next question is whether there is a genuine issue regarding whether defendants breached this duty by failing to provide the proper instructions.

In support of their motion for summary disposition, defendants provided, inter alia, the unsworn “statements” from two people who were camp counselors at the time of the accident. However, these statements do not comply with the requirements of MCR 2.116(G)(2) since they are not “affidavits, depositions, admissions, or other documentary evidence,” and consequently cannot be considered. Marlo Beauty Supply, Inc v Farmers Ins Group of Cos, 227 Mich App 309, 321; 575 NW2d 324 (2009). Moreover, even if the statements were considered, they would not support granting defendants’ motion for summary disposition. The first statement was by Leah Glowacki, who was the programming counselor at the time of the incident. With regard to the instructions, she stated, “I instructed the campers to attempt to obtain the flag that was inside the circle on the opposite side of the field from where their team was stationed.” This statement does not establish [*8] that the correct instructions were given. In fact, when viewing the statement in a light most favorable to plaintiff, one could conclude that Glowacki’s instructions might possibly have been construed by at least some campers as a directive to remove the flag itself instead of the towel on the ground. The other statement was provided by Stephanie Plaine, who stated that she instructed the campers “to capture the team’s flag on the other side of the field which was located inside the circles drawn onto the grass.” Again, this statement does not specify that the instruction was to get the towel lying next to the flag.

Defendants did properly submit the depositions of six people, however. But none of the submitted testimony indicated that the campers were instructed to ignore the flagpole and only pick up the towel on the ground: Gamze could not recall what specific instructions were given; Lisner testified that she did not hear any specific instructions to take the towel on the ground instead of the pole itself; Jack Schulman and William Schulman both admitted that they did not hear the instructions that Glowacki and Plaine provided; Marsha Schulman admitted that she was not present when [*9] the instructions were given; and Plaine, herself, testified that she could not recall the specifics of the instructions that she gave. Therefore, when viewing all of this evidence in a light most favorable to plaintiff, there is a question of material fact on whether the Camp instructed the campers to only take the towel lying at the base of the flagpole instead of the flag or flagpole itself.

Finally, the trial court indicated that it found as a matter of law that defendants could not have proximately caused plaintiff’s injuries. But proximate cause is a factual question for the jury unless reasonable minds could not differ. Lockridge v Oakwood Hosp, 285 Mich App 678, 684; 777 NW2d 511 (2009). Proximate cause normally involves examining the foreseeability of consequences and whether a defendant should be held liable for those consequences. Campbell v Kovich, 273 Mich App 227, 232; 731 NW2d 112 (2006). Here, a reasonable juror could have concluded that a failure to instruct the campers properly could foreseeably result in an enthusiastic camper grabbing and removing the flagpole in order to “capture the flag” affixed to the top of it. And because the object of the game was for the camper [*10] to run the flag back to her team’s territory while other campers tried to tag her, a reasonable person could conclude that it was foreseeable that other campers might be hit and injured by the five-foot tall flagpole as it was being moved. Therefore, the trial court erred by holding as a matter of law that defendants could not have proximately caused Gamze’s injuries.

B. PREMISES LIABILITY

We now turn to plaintiff’s premises liability claim. Because Gamze was an invitee on the Camp’s premises, defendants owed a duty to “‘exercise reasonable care to protect [her] from an unreasonable risk of harm caused by a dangerous condition on the land.'” Benton v Dart Properties, Inc, 270 Mich App 437, 440; 715 NW2d 335 (2006), quoting Lugo v Ameritech Corp, Inc, 464 Mich 512, 516; 629 NW2d 384 (2001) (emphasis added). Plaintiff must show that the duty was breached and that the breach proximately caused her injuries. Benton, 270 Mich App at 440.

However, Gamze was not harmed by a dangerous condition “on the land.” Instead, she was harmed when Lisner pulled the flagpole out of the ground and began running with it. The danger arose solely because of the actions of the participants and not because of [*11] an inherent condition of the premises. Thus, plaintiff’s claim properly sounds in negligence, not premises liability.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. We do not retain jurisdiction. No costs are taxable pursuant to MCR 7.219, neither party having prevailed in full.

/s/ Kurtis T. Wilder

/s/ Joel P. Hoekstra

/s/ Stephen L. Borrello

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Association of Independent Camps is moving forward

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coda%20cropped.png

In early February I wrote to you indicating that the AIC board of Directors voted unanimously to take the steps necessary to create a 501 (C) 6 non-profit organization separate from it’s ACA subsidiary AIC organization.

The purpose of this letter is to let you know of the steps that have been taken.

We have a new name. I am excited to announce that The Camp Owners and Directors Association (CODA) has been reserved as a non-profit Corporation in Massachusetts. We have the name, website and the means to continue our mission which, quite frankly, does not change from what it was as AIC.

We know:

That the mission of Independent Camp Owners, directors and administrators is to provide safe, fun, productive camping experiences for children helping them grow, mature and gain independence.

It is the mission of CODA to help you achieve this vision.

Our goal is for CODA to become so effective that every independent camp director, owner and administrator, whether for profit or non-profit will feel the need to belong. To this end we will double our membership by the end of 2014.

We have not stood still while we work through the legalities and complexities of moving from AIC to CODA. In the past month you have received information about riflery equipment and horseback riding training. We have a lot more to share. In the near future we will communicate to you on the following:

  • We are offering an innovative CODA insurance product that protects the camp parent’s investment and the camp owner’s income. This product is administered through Bollinger Insurance and Ed Schirick:
  • An agreement with Care.com to get our message to the over 4 million visitors to their website:
  • We are planning THE project we’ve all wanted for the past 20 years. A HUGE endeavor that will encompass every aspect of our organization. A project that is America’s Summer Camps!
  • We are creating a relationship with Firestorm, an organization that will help us plan, prepare and be ready for the unthinkable situations that inevitable happen at camp;
  • We will be bringing you information from a “Magician” (direct quote from Michael Brandwein) in camp marketing, Travis Allison, the Camp Hacker.
  • And a new website to be revealed shortly.

There is a lot more to come from your old, NEW organization, The Camp Owners and Directors Association.

Be on the lookout for more information!

Robert Lebby

Camp Directors and Owners Association

Executive Director

520 577 7925

robertleb45


N.H., a minor child, v. Sequoyah Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87452

N.H., a minor child, v. Sequoyah Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87452

N.H., a minor child, by and through his parents Jorge Hernandez and Elizabeth Hernandez and Jorge Hernandez and Elizabeth Hernandez, Individually, v. Sequoyah Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America

NO. 2:11-CV-171

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE

2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87452

April 30, 2012, Filed

CORE TERMS: punitive damages, trail, gross negligence, recklessly, survive, failed to properly, bike, damages claim, reasonable inference, entitlement to relief’, plausibility, punitive, reckless, biking, summer camp, proximate cause, proximate result, mountain

COUNSEL: [*1] For Jorge Hernandez, Individually Minor N. H, Elizabeth Hernandez, Individually Minor N. H., Plaintiffs: Thomas C Jessee, Jessee & Jessee, Johnson City, TN.

For Sequoyah Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America, defendant: Suzanne S Cook, LEAD ATTORNEY, Hunter, Smith & Davis – Johnson City, Johnson City, TN.

JUDGES: J. RONNIE GREER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

OPINION BY: J. RONNIE GREER

OPINION

ORDER

This personal injury action is before the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Pending before the Court is the defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ demand for punitive damages pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [Doc. 5]. For the reasons which follow, the motion is GRANTED.

FACTS

The following facts are taken from plaintiffs’ Complaint and are assumed true for the purposes of defendant’s motion to dismiss. In June 2010, the minor plaintiff was registered by his parents to participate in a summer camp owned and operated by defendant in an attempt to earn merit badges towards becoming an Eagle Scout. On June 15, 2010, while at this summer camp, the minor plaintiff participated in a mountain biking activity/class sponsored by defendant. During the course of his participation, the minor plaintiff discovered [*2] that the brakes on his bike were not working, and he rode off the trail and struck a tree, sustaining severe bodily injuries.

The defendant was allegedly negligent as follows: (1) it failed to keep the mountain bike trails in a reasonably safe condition; (2) it failed to warn the minor plaintiff of hidden perils of the trails which defendant knew, or by reasonable inspection, could have discovered; (3) it failed to properly train its employees; (4) it failed to properly mark the bike trail; (5) it failed to properly evaluate and assess the skill of the minor plaintiff before allowing him to ride the trail; and (6) it was “negligent in other manners.” [Doc. 1 at ¶19]. The Complaint also states that “the negligence of Defendant . . . was the proximate cause of the injuries to the minor plaintiff.” Id. at ¶20. The Complaint contains a number of additional paragraphs that allege how the “negligence” of the defendant was the proximate cause of various other consequences. Id. at ¶¶22-27. The final paragraph of the Complaint states, “As a proximate . . . result of the negligence of Defendant, the Plaintiffs have been damaged . . . in an amount not to exceed $600,000.00 actual damages. As a [*3] direct and proximate result of the gross negligence of the Defendant, the Plaintiffs believe they are entitled to recover punitive damages . . ..” Id. at ¶28 (emphasis added).

Defendant has filed a motion asking the Court to dismiss the Complaint so far as punitive damages are concerned on the ground that the plaintiffs have failed to adequately plead a factual basis that would provide for the award of punitive damages.

LEGAL STANDARD

Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) requires “a short and plain statement of the claims” that “will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff’s claim is and the ground upon which it rests.” The Supreme Court has held that “[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitlement to relief’ requires more than just labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007).

“To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, [*4] accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Thus, “only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Id. at 1950. When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all of the plaintiff’s allegations as true in determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim for which relief could be granted. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S. Ct. 2229, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59 (1984).

ANALYSIS

“In a diversity action . . . the propriety of an award of punitive damages for the conduct in question, and the factors the jury may consider in determining their amount, are questions of state law.” Browning-Ferris Indus. of Vt., Inc., v. Kelco Disposal, Inc., 492 U.S. 257, 278, 109 S. Ct. 2909, 106 L. Ed. 2d 219 (1989). Thus, to survive a motion to dismiss, a claim for punitive damages must be plausible as defined by Tennessee law.

The Tennessee Supreme Court has held that punitive damages are available in cases involving “only the most egregious of wrongs.” [*5] Hodges v. S.C. Toof & Co., 833 S.W.2d 896, 901 (Tenn. 1992). Accordingly, under Tennessee law, “a court may . . . award punitive damages only if it finds a defendant has acted either (1) intentionally, (2) fraudulently, (3) maliciously, or (4) recklessly.” Id. 1

1 The Tennessee Supreme Court has expressly stated that punitive damages are not available for “gross negligence.” Hodges, 833 S.W.2d at 900-901. However, the legal sufficiency of a complaint does not depend upon whether or not the plaintiffs invoked the right “magic words,” but instead whether the facts as alleged may plausibly be construed to state a claim that meets the standards of Rule 12(b)(6). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009)(clarifying the dismissal standard under Rule 12(b)(6) and noting that “Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era”). Consequently, the Court will construe the plaintiffs’ allegations of “gross negligence” in paragraph 28 of the Complaint as an allegation that defendant behaved “recklessly.”

Here, defendant asserts that “Although the Complaint cursorily mentions ‘gross negligence’ one time in a conclusory manner, the Complaint [*6] lacks any facts or allegations that aver an utter lack of concern or reckless disregard such that a conscious indifference can even be implied . . ..” [Doc. 6 at 3]. The plaintiff counters that “The plaintiff in this case has identified specific detailed acts of negligence on the part of the defendant and . . . [consequently] it is clear that a jury could decide that the actions of the defendant were grossly negligent.” [Doc. 7 at 2].

The Court has reviewed the Complaint and agrees with the defendant. “Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant’s liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Such is the case with the Complaint in this matter. The entirety of the Complaint is dedicated to explaining why the defendant was negligent. However, there is no separate mention made regarding why the defendant was reckless. To be sure, the plaintiff could argue that by alleging in multiple paragraphs that defendant “knew, or should have known,” of certain unsafe conditions, he has sufficiently pled both negligence and recklessness. However, plaintiff would be mistaken in asserting such [*7] argument.

Under Tennessee law, “A person acts recklessly when the person is aware of, but consciously disregards, a substantial and unjustifiable risk of such a nature that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances.” Hodges, 833 S.W.2d at 901. An examination of the Complaint reveals that plaintiffs have failed to allege how or why the defendant was aware of the deficiencies in the bicycle and the biking trail. This is fatal to plaintiffs’ claim for punitive damages. See Carrier Corp. v. Outokumpu Oyj, 673 F.3d 430, 445 (6th Cir. 2012) (“To survive a motion to dismiss . . . allegations must be specific enough to establish the relevant ‘who, what, where, when, how or why.”); See also, Tucker v. Bernzomatic, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43771, 2010 WL 1838704 (E.D.Pa. May 4, 2010) (Dismissing punitive damages claim in products liability action because consumer did not allege how or why manufacturer knew that its product was dangerous).

In light of the foregoing, the Court concludes that the Complaint does not contain sufficient factual content to allow the Court to draw the reasonable inference that defendant has acted recklessly. [*8] See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The punitive damages claim will therefore be dismissed.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ demand for punitive damages [Doc. 5] is GRANTED and plaintiffs’ demand for punitive damages is DISMISSED.

ENTER:

/s/ J. RONNIE GREER

UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

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Harris v Five Point Mission–Camp Olmstedt, 73 A.D.3d 1127; 901 N.Y.S.2d 678; 2010 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4526; 2010 NY Slip Op 4547

Harris v Five Point Mission–Camp Olmstedt, 73 A.D.3d 1127; 901 N.Y.S.2d 678; 2010 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4526; 2010 NY Slip Op 4547

Nikki Harris, Respondent, v Five Point Mission–Camp Olmstedt, Appellant. (Index No. 38156/07)

2009-08327

SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, APPELLATE DIVISION, SECOND DEPARTMENT

73 A.D.3d 1127; 901 N.Y.S.2d 678; 2010 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4526; 2010 NY Slip Op 4547

May 25, 2010, Decided

SUBSEQUENT HISTORY: As Amended June 21, 2010.

HEADNOTES

Negligence–What Constitutes.–Defendant was not liable for injuries sustained by infant while playing soccer at sleepaway summer camp operated by defendant; defendant established that it did not negligently supervise infant during soccer game in which he was injured and that it did not negligently maintain soccer field where accident occurred.

COUNSEL: [***1] Molod Spitz & DeSantis, P.C., New York, N.Y. (Salvatore J. DeSantis and Marcy Sonneborn of counsel), for appellant.

Kenneth J. Ready, Mineola, N.Y. (Steven T. Lane of counsel), for respondent.

JUDGES: REINALDO E. RIVERA, J.P., ANITA R. FLORIO, DANIEL D. ANGIOLILLO, PLUMMER E. LOTT, JJ. RIVERA, J.P., FLORIO, ANGIOLILLO and LOTT, JJ., concur.

OPINION

[*1127] [**679] In an action to recover damages for personal injuries, etc., the defendant appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Kings County (Schack, J.), dated July 17, 2009, which denied its motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

Ordered that the order is reversed, on the law, with costs, and the defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint is granted.

On the morning of July 29, 2006, the then 13 1/2-year-old infant, Devante Harris (hereinafter Devante), allegedly was injured while playing soccer at the sleepaway summer camp operated by the defendant, Five Point Mission–Camp Olmstedt. According to Devante’s deposition testimony, the accident happened over a 15-second period of time. After Devante fell while attempting to kick a soccer ball, another camper, attempting to kick the same ball, made contact with Devante’s [***2] leg and then fell on Devante’s leg. At the time of the accident, there were two counselors supervising the soccer game, while acting as opposing goalies, one of whom was only 12 feet away from Devante when the accident occurred. Furthermore, during the hour before the accident occurred, neither Devante nor anyone else [*1128] fell during the game. According to the deposition testimony of the camp director, Nolan Walker, the camp hired a private landscaping company to maintain the field. Additionally, in the two weeks leading up to the date of the accident, he did not observe any defects in the field.

[HN1] Schools or camps are not insurers of the safety of their students or campers, as they “cannot reasonably be expected to continuously supervise and control all of their movements and activities” (Cohn v Board of Educ. of Three Vil. Cent. School. Dist., 70 AD3d 622, 623, 892 NYS2d 882 [2010]; see Mirand v City of New York, 84 NY2d 44, 49, 637 NE2d 263, 614 NYS2d 372 [1994]). Rather, schools and camps owe a duty to supervise their charges and will only be held liable for foreseeable injuries proximately caused by the absence of adequate supervision (see Mirand v City of New York, 84 NY2d at 49; Doe v Department of Educ. of City of New York, 54 AD3d 352, 353, 862 NYS2d 598 [2008]; [***3] Paca v City of New York, 51 AD3d 991, 992, 858 NYS2d 772 [2008]). Moreover, even if an issue of fact exists as to negligent supervision, liability does not lie absent a showing that such negligence proximately caused the injuries sustained (see Odekirk v Bellmore-Merrick Cent. School Dist., 70 AD3d 910, 895 NYS2d 184 [2010]; Siegell v Herricks Union Free School Dist., 7 AD3d 607, 777 NYS2d 148 [2004]). “Where an accident occurs in so short a span of time that even the most intense supervision could not have prevented it, any lack of supervision is not the proximate cause of the injury and summary judgment in favor of the … defendant[] is warranted” (Convey v City of Rye School Dist., 271 AD2d 154, 160, 710 NYS2d 641 [2000]; see Odekirk v Bellmore-Merrick Cent. School Dist., 70 AD3d 910, 895 NYS2d 184 [2010]; Paca v City of New York, 51 AD3d at 993; Capotosto v Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Ctr., 2 AD3d 384, 385-386, 767 NYS2d 857 [2003]).

The defendant made a prima facie showing of its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. It established, by way of Devante’s deposition testimony, that it did not negligently supervise him during the soccer game in which he was injured (see Mirand v City of New York, 84 NY2d at 49; Calcagno v John F. Kennedy Intermediate School, 61 AD3d 911, 912, 877 NYS2d [**680] 455 [2009]). It also established [***4] that it did not negligently maintain the soccer field where the accident occurred (see Lopez v Freeport Union Free School Dist., 288 AD2d 355, 356, 734 NYS2d 97 [2001]).

In response, the plaintiff failed to show the existence of a triable issue of fact. Devante’s affidavit submitted in opposition to the motion merely raised a feigned issue of fact designed to avoid the consequences of his earlier deposition testimony, and thus was insufficient to defeat the defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint (see Denicola v [*1129] Costello, 44 AD3d 990, 844 NYS2d 438 [2007]). The affidavit of Devante’s mother, the plaintiff, Nikki Harris, also was insufficient to defeat the defendant’s motion, as she did not have personal knowledge of the facts underlying the claim and relied upon inadmissible hearsay in her averments (see New S. Ins. Co. v Dobbins, 71 AD3d 652, 894 NYS2d 912 [2010]).

The plaintiff’s expert’s affidavit also was insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the defendant’s failure to provide Devante with shin guards constituted negligence. The affidavit improperly relies on the version of the events set forth in Devante’s affidavit in opposition to the motion and not upon his deposition testimony. Furthermore, in [***5] concluding that the defendant summer camp was negligent in failing to provide Devante with shin guards during the soccer game, the expert failed to allege that sleepaway summer camps generally provide shin guards to campers during informal soccer games like the one at issue (see Diaz v New York Downtown Hosp., 99 NY2d 542, 545, 784 NE2d 68, 754 NYS2d 195 [2002]; Walker v Commack School Dist., 31 AD3d 752, 820 NYS2d 287 [2006]). Nor does he allege, based upon his personal knowledge or experience, that the rules of college, high school, or youth soccer leagues, which he contends require the use of shin guards, have been implemented by or are the generally accepted practice in informal summer camp soccer games such as the one in which Devante was injured (see Diaz v New York Downtown Hosp., 99 NY2d at 545; Walker v Commack School Dist., 31 AD3d 752, 820 NYS2d 287 [2006]).

Accordingly, the defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint should have been granted (see generally Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., 68 NY2d 320, 324-325, 501 NE2d 572, 508 NYS2d 923 [1986]). Rivera, J.P., Florio, Angiolillo and Lott, JJ., concur.


Oldja v. Warm Beach Christian Camps And Conference Center, 793 F. Supp. 2d 1208; 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67966

Oldja v. Warm Beach Christian Camps And Conference Center, 793 F. Supp. 2d 1208; 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67966

Ted Oldja, Plaintiff, v. Warm Beach Christian Camps And Conference Center, Defendant.

CASE NO. C09-0122-JCC

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON

793 F. Supp. 2d 1208; 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67966

June 24, 2011, Decided

June 24, 2011, Filed

COUNSEL: [**1] For Ted Oldja, Plaintiff: Kenneth R Friedman, LEAD ATTORNEY, FRIEDMAN RUBIN, BREMERTON, WA; Michael N White, FRIEDMAN RUBIN, (BREMERTON), BREMERTON, WA.

For Warm Beach Christian Camps and Conference Center, Defendant: David R Goodnight, Vanessa Soriano Power, STOEL RIVES (WA), SEATTLE, WA; Francis S Floyd, Nicholas L Jenkins, FLOYD PFLUEGER & RINGER PS, SEATTLE, WA.

JUDGES: John C. Coughenour, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

OPINION BY: John C. Coughenour

OPINION

[*1209] ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant’s motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 49), Plaintiff’s response (Dkt. No. 53), and Defendant’s reply. (Dkt. No. 59.) Having thoroughly considered the parties’ briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons explained herein.

I. BACKGROUND

In the summer of 2007, Ted Oldja attended a camp at Warm Beach Christian Camp (“Warm Beach”) in Stanwood, Washington. Mr. and Mrs. Oldja decided to ride on the zip line operated by Warm Beach. The zip line carried riders in a harness suspended from a cable by two ropes: a white rope, which acts as the primary connection between the harness and the cable, and bears the load of the rider’s weight; and [**2] a black rope, which acts as a secondary connection between the harness and the cable, and can be used as a safety line to slow the rider down.

Before a user rides the zip line, it is the job of the launch facilitator to follow a safety procedure. First, the facilitator tells the rider that they can hold on to either the white and black ropes during the ride, or just the white rope. The facilitator instructs riders not to hold only the black secondary line, because it will slow them down or stop them completely. The facilitator then double-checks the harness configuration, pulley attachments, safety helmet, and carabiners. The launch facilitator calls “zip clear” to the landing facilitator to communicate that the rider is ready, and the landing facilitator responds “zip clear” to communicate that the path is clear for the rider.

After watching his wife on the ride, it was Mr. Oldja’s turn. The launch facilitator, Paul Matthewson, testified that he followed the proper safety procedures. (Dkt. No. 49 Ex. 2 at 51- 53.) Matthewson testified that he did not see Oldja wrap his fingers in the white primary rope, and that Oldja’s fingers were not wrapped in the rope when Matthewson cleared him [**3] to go. (Id. at 60.) Some time after Matthewson called “zip clear,” Mr. Oldja, a mechanical engineer, wrapped his fingers in the white primary rope, and stepped off the platform. The load-bearing rope tightened [*1210] around his hand and crushed his fingers. Mr. Oldja was rushed to a hospital and has had several surgeries on his hand. Plaintiff filed suit against Warm Beach for negligence, product liability, and negligence per se under a variety of theories. Defendant now moves for summary judgment dismissal of all three of these claims. Plaintiff does not oppose summary judgment on the product liability claim.

II. APPLICABLE LAW

[HN1] Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) mandates that a motion for summary judgment be granted when “the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). There exists a genuine issue as to a particular fact–and hence that fact “can be resolved only by a finder of fact” at trial–when “[it] may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party”; conversely, there exists no genuine issue when reasonable [**4] minds could not differ as to the import of the evidence. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250-52, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). Whether a particular fact is material, in turn, is determined by the substantive law of the case: “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” Id. at 248. Summary judgment, then, demands an inquiry into “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law”; if applying the relevant law to those facts about which no two reasonable factfinders could disagree dictates that the moving party must prevail, then a motion for summary judgment must be granted. Id. at 250-52.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Duty of Ordinary Care

Plaintiff argues that it is well established that every business has a duty to use ordinary care in keeping its premises reasonably safe for use by business invitees. (Dkt. No. 53 at 10.) Defendant argues that Section 388 of the Second Restatement of Torts should govern the analysis. [**5] The Court addresses Section 388 below, but Section 388 governs only the duty to disclose and does not govern the duty of ordinary care. Defendant has not shown an absence of a genuine issue of material fact with respect to its alleged breach of the duty of ordinary care. Accordingly, summary judgment dismissal of this claim is denied.

B. Duty to Disclose

[HN2] With reference to a duty to disclose, The Supreme Court of Washington has adopted Section 388 of the Second Restatement of Torts, which states that the supplier is liable if he:

a) knows or has reason to know that the chattel is or is likely to be dangerous for the use for which it is supplied, and

b) has no reason to believe that those for whose use the chattel is supplied will realize its dangerous condition, and

c) fails to exercise reasonable care to inform them of its dangerous condition or of the facts which make it likely to be dangerous.

Fleming v. Stoddard Wendle Motor Co., 70 Wn.2d 465, 423 P.2d 926, 928 (Wash. 1967).

Plaintiff argues that he is choosing not to pursue his claims under Section 388. Rather, Plaintiff argues that the Court [*1211] should consider Section 343A, which creates a duty to protect invitees from known or obvious dangers when the [**6] landowner should anticipate the harm despite such knowledge and obviousness.

Plaintiff is misguided. [HN3] He may choose the claims he brings, but he cannot choose the standard the Court will apply to those claims. Section 343 governs liability for an activity or condition on the land. Section 388 governs liability for use of a chattel. “Chattel” means movable or transferable property. Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009). Defendant argues that the zip line is movable property, and Plaintiff does not challenge this characterization. The Court agrees. Plaintiff’s injury was caused by equipment on the land, not the land itself. Accordingly, Section 388 governs Plaintiff’s claims. Lunt v. Mt. Spokane Skiing Corp., 62 Wn. App. 353, 814 P.2d 1189, 1192 (Wash. Ct. App. 1991) (where injury arises from equipment not land, Section 388 not Section 343 governs).

[HN4] Each of the three criteria in Section 388 must be satisfied. The Court will begin with consideration of the second criterion. To prevail on this element at the summary judgment phase, Plaintiff must show some evidence that Defendant had no reason to believe that riders of the zip line would realize the dangerous condition. This is a dense piece of legal language, [**7] so an illustration is helpful.

In Fleming v. Stoddard Wendle Motor Co., 70 Wn.2d 465, 423 P.2d 926 (Wash. 1967), a man disabled a safety feature on a truck that was designed to prevent the motor from starting if the car was in gear. He sold the truck to a mechanic and did not disclose that the safety feature had been disabled. When the purchaser started the truck, it lurched forward, striking and injuring the plaintiff. The Supreme Court of Washington noted that the man who had sold the car had no reason to believe that any future operator of the car would know that the safety feature had been disabled. Id. at 928. Because the seller had no reason to believe the defect would be discovered, he had a duty to warn of that defect. The defect was latent and no amount of common sense or automotive knowledge could inform a driver about that particular hazard. Dismissal of the seller was reversed.

In contrast, Mele v. Turner, 106 Wn.2d 73, 720 P.2d 787 (Wash. 1986) concerns a case where a young man borrowed a lawn mower from his neighbors, inserted his hand into the mower housing to clean out some wet grass, and injured four fingers. The young man admitted in an affidavit: “I obviously realized that one should not put [**8] his hand under the machine where the blade runs . . . .” Id. at 790. The Court held that because the dangerous condition was obvious and known, defendants had no legal duty to warn. Id. There was nothing latent about the defect, and common sense would inform the user of the hazard.

The present case is much closer to Mele than Fleming. Plaintiff’s injury was the natural result of wrapping a rope around one’s hand and then suspending one’s body from that rope. This was not a latent or hidden condition that only Defendant could know. Common sense of a capable adult is sufficient to inform a rider of this danger. Plaintiff admitted as much in his deposition:

Q. Did you know that if you wrapped the rope around your fingers and then you put weight on the rope, that that would tighten and cinch around your fingers?

A. The thought did not cross my mind.

Q. Okay. You didn’t think about that correct?

A. Correct.

Q. But if you had thought about it, you would have been able to figure that out, correct?

[*1212] A. If someone asked me?

Q. Yes.

A. Yes.

(Dkt. No. 50 at Ex. A 196:14-197:1.) Given Plaintiff’s admission that he would have realized the danger if he had thought about it, Plaintiff cannot credibly argue [**9] that Defendant had no reason to believe that he would realize the danger.

The only evidence Plaintiff offers on this point is the testimony of Dr. Richard Gill, a Human Factors Engineering consultant. Dr. Gill was disclosed as a rebuttal expert, and testified that the scope of his work was to provide rebuttal testimony to the three defense experts. (Dkt. No. 60 at Ex. 1, Ex 2 16:8-9.) Dr. Gill’s expert report provides a series of conclusions about the behavior of zip line riders that does not rebut any of the testimony of Defendant’s experts. Rather, this type of testimony should have been disclosed in the initial expert discovery responses and is therefore untimely. Accordingly, Dr. Gill’s testimony regarding the behavioral tendencies of zip line or challenge course participants is STRICKEN. Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact with respect to Defendant’s liability under Section 388.

C. Liability for violation of state regulations

Plaintiff’s next argument is that Defendant was negligent pursuant to RCW 5.40.050 for violation of a state statute. [HN5] WAC 296-403A-190 states that amusement rides must be inspected by certified inspectors. RCW 67.42.010 and [**10] WAC 296-403A-100(2) provide the definition of amusement rides, but do not mention zip lines. Plaintiff argues that these definitions do include zip lines, and relies on a series of communications with the State of Washington Department of Labor and Industries (“L&I”) in 2009 and 2010 in support of this contention. (Dkt. No. 50 at Ex. 11.)

The Court interprets these communications very differently from Plaintiff. It is clear from these emails that the decision to include zip lines in the definition of “amusement ride” under WAC 296-403A-100(2) was not made until late 2009 or early 2010, more than two years after Plaintiff injured his hand on Defendant’s zip line. (Dkt. No. 50 at Ex. 11.) Plaintiff does not address this chronology in his briefing. It is misleading in the extreme for Plaintiff to characterize Defendant’s zip line as “unlicensed” when the licensing body had not yet decided that a license was required. Plaintiff has failed to show a genuine issue of material fact with respect to Defendant’s failure to comply with licensing requirements.

D. Common Carrier Liability

Plaintiff’s third argument is that Defendant is subject to common carrier liability. [HN6] Under Washington law, the duty [**11] of a common carrier to safeguard passengers from injury requires the carrier to exercise the highest degree of care consistent with the practical operation of its business or its type of transportation. Benjamin v. Seattle, 74 Wn.2d 832, 447 P.2d 172 (1968). Plaintiff acknowledges that there is no Washington caselaw addressing the issue of whether a zip line qualifies as a “common carrier,” but argues that this Court should expand the definition to include zip lines and similar amusement rides. In support of this argument, Plaintiff mentions a series of California decisions holding that a higher standard of care applies to amusement rides. Gomez v. Superior Court, 35 Cal. 4th 1125, 29 Cal. Rptr. 3d 352, 113 P.3d 41, 47 (Cal. 2005) (holding that the same high standard of care applied to carriers of passengers should also apply to operators of roller [*1213] coasters); Neubauer v. Disneyland, 875 F. Supp. 672, 673 (C.D. Cal. 1995) (holding that under California’s broad common carrier statute, a Disneyland amusement ride may be a common carrier).

This argument stumbles into the yawning gap between the Washington and California common-carrier statutes. [HN7] California’s common carrier statute is broad: Every one who offers to the public to carry persons, [**12] property, or messages, excepting only telegraphic messages, is a common carrier of whatever he thus offers to carry. Cal Civ Code § 2168. Washington’s common carrier statute is narrow and exhaustive:

“Common carrier” includes all railroads, railroad companies, street railroads, street railroad companies, commercial ferries, motor freight carriers, auto transportation companies, charter party carriers and excursion service carriers, private nonprofit transportation providers, solid waste collection companies, household goods carriers, hazardous liquid pipeline companies, and every corporation, company, association, joint stock association, partnership, and person, their lessees, trustees, or receivers appointed by any court whatsoever, and every city or town, owning, operating, managing, or controlling any such agency for public use in the conveyance of persons or property for hire within this state.

RCW 81.04.010(11). Plaintiff offers no argument or evidence for the proposition that this definition includes a zip line. Again, Plaintiff has failed to show a genuine issue of material fact with respect to Defendant’s liability as an alleged common carrier.

IV. CONCLUSION

Defendant’s motion [**13] for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 49) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Plaintiff’s claims for breach of the duty of ordinary care survive summary judgment. Plaintiff’s claims for breach of the duty to disclose, claims relating to the violation of the WAC, and claims relating to common carrier liability are DISMISSED.

DATED this 24th day of June 2011.

/s/ John C. Coughenour

John C. Coughenour

UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE


Stop Feuding, I doubt, move forward anyway, I think you can.

The Challenge/Ropes Course Industry is still fighting after all these years……it is a very sad song.

The challenge course, or as it was known in its beginning, the ropes’ course industry, is still setting itself up to be sued, successfully sued. My calculations show they have had judgments and settlements in excess of $5.1 million. See Payouts in Outdoor Recreation. Not included in those calculations are another $3.1 million that I learned of that was a settlement this past summer (2011). In 10 years, the industry has had $8.2 million in pay outs based upon my research. Who knows how much more has been paid that is confidential settlements or judgments I can’t find.

In my opinion, a major part of the problem is standards. Which is probably why they are losing these suits and why the industry is a mess?

There are two separate groups writing standards for the industry. Neither of those groups is part of the ASTM, both are trying to become ANSI standard setting organizations.

Standards for things; bolts, screws, wood, concrete are already done by the ASTM.  Those are great standards, created correctly and are needed by this industry. Those standards are always going to trump anything the ropes’ course industry does. Consequently, ignoring that is a joke. For things (anything without a personality) refer to and adopt the ASTM standards.

Any standard that recreates or redoes the standards established by the ASTM is 1) a waste of time and 2) only a way to create litigation. The ASTM standard is going to be controlling. If the standard created by an industry association is lower than the ASTM standard or even different, the standard will be violated because the ASTM will be controlling.

For any cables/wire, the European standards for ski lifts control. Those standards on wire have been around for almost 100 years and are great. Again, this is a monster waste of time and energy to create something that does not matter.

For people, get rid of those standards. People make mistakes, not concrete. If it can make a mistake, dump the standard attached to it. For more on this issue see Trade Association Standards sink a Summer Camp when a plaintiff uses them to prove Camp was negligent, Expert Witness Report: ACA “Standards” are used by Expert for the Plaintiff in a lawsuit against a Camp, and ACA “Standards” are used by Expert for the Plaintiff in a lawsuit against a Camp

Here is what the National Ski Area Association says about standards: See NSAA and standards. Understand that the lifts have standards but the ski areas do not. The NSAA is like 99% of the rest of the trade associations in the world; they know that writing standards is a legal nightmare.

What you should do.

If you are part of the ropes’ course industry, you need to protect yourself from the problems created by these dual standards. Get both sets of standards and create reasons why you are not following specific ones. That way in advance, you protect yourself. Be specific, not just it does not apply and do not use the word money or cost unless you can show a better way that may be cheaper.

Resolution of the issues for the Standards

There are several options on how to resolve the problem.

1.     One group can get to the ANSI, finish up and have “standards.” However, this will only work if the other group, then drops its standards. One group has indicated they will not. Can you think of this getting any worse that would occur?

2.     Eliminate both sets of “standards” and start gain from scratch. Go to the ASTM and set up a committee to set up standards and adopt all the ASTM ones that are done. What is left can be written at that point. I suspect that will be a short piece of paper.

I believe this alternative has the best legal benefits.

3.     Find six people who are not vested in winning. It is too small of a job for anything less, and I don’t think you can find eight impartial people with respect to the groups.  They should go through each standard and write down the best one and move on. I would give them standards that are not identified as to who created which ones. All they are working with is words on paper, not logos or IDs.

If you want to see where standards can go too far read this article:  Playgrounds will be flat soon. No city can meet the playground standards with the current budgets they have to work with.

Do Something

If you are part of this industry, good luck. There are a lot of great people in the industry; however,  a lot of them have drunk the cool-aid from one group or another and cannot see past their respective “turf.”

Until the standards for operations are gone and there is only one set of standards for the industry, it will be a plaintiff’s playground.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Expert Witness Reports. Got one?

New ideas and service

I know talking about old lawsuits is a thrill, but I’m trying to track down some information. I’m trying to locate expert witness reports used in litigation against camps and other outdoor recreation businesses.  Reports used by the plaintiffs are my first priority but defendant expert reports are also of interest.

I have two reasons for doing this. The first is to track down different times when experts are being used who have been trained by the organization that the defendants are members of. Several OR member organizations have been training for their members. I doubt their intention is to train people who are then being hired as experts to sue their membership. However, it is happening.

This is sort of delicate (well as delicate as I can ever be). I don’t want to tear down any organization. I believe the OR organizations great that have done a lot of good and will continue to do so. At the same time, the standards issues need to be brought to light. The only way of doing that will be to show times when the organization information has been used to sue is members.

The other thing I am going to do is to scan the reports and keep them available.  It is always great to have former expert’s reports to refer to see if they have made a statement in a prior report that contradicts their statement or opinion in the latest report.  It’s something I’ve been doing for years for the rafting and mountaineering industry.

If you are interested and can email me an electronic copy of any  report you have or send me a copy. I would appreciate it.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Delaware holds that mothers signature on contract forces change of venue for minors claims.

Doe v. Cedars Academy, LLC, 2010 Del. Super. LEXIS 559

Court recognizes that you can’t argue rights under the contract and void other parts of the contract in the same lawsuit.

This case alleges that the minor was assaulted at a school for students who have a need for academic and social skills development. To be enrolled in the school the mother had to sign a substantial contract. The contract included a release of liability (pre-injury release) and a venue and jurisdiction clause.

The minor was allegedly threatened and sexually assaulted by another student. The mother and son sued for.

“….negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness; one count raises a breach of contract claim, and one count raises a claim that Defendants violated John Doe’s substantive due process right to bodily integrity.”

The defendants, the school and the parent company of the school moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. This means the contract says the jurisdiction is located in another state, therefor this court does not have the legal right to hear the claim. i.e. the jurisdiction clause in the contract between the parties.

Summary of the case

The school was located in Delaware; however, the agreement required arbitration in California. The venue and jurisdiction clause was extensive in the contract.

21. Governing Law/Venue: This Agreement, and all matters relating hereto, including any matter or dispute arising between the parties out of this Agreement, tort or otherwise, shall be interpreted, governed and enforced according to the laws of the State of California; and the parties consent and submit to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the California Courts in Los Angeles County, California, and any qualified (American Arbitration Association-approved) arbitration service in the State of California, County of Los Angeles, to enforce this Agreement. The parties acknowledge that this Agreement constitutes a business transaction within the State of California. 10

The court looked at four issues in reviewing the contract and the claims of the plaintiffs:

(A) whether the Agreement is binding as to Jane Doe; [the mother]

(B) whether the Agreement is binding as to John Doe; [the son]

(C) whether the pre-injury release provision renders the entire Agreement unenforceable; and, if not

(D) whether the choice of law, choice of forum, and/or arbitration provisions of the Agreement are controlling.

The issue of whether the contract is binding on the mother. The court found it was because the mother also sued for damages under the contract. Here the court found if you are suing for damages under the contract, you cannot claim you are not part of the contract.

The court also held, in what was one of the clearest statements on this issue I’ve read, that the mother could not avail herself of the services of the defendant and put her son in the school and then claim the contract did not apply to her. If the contract allowed her to put her son in the school, then the contract applied to her.

But for the right to contact as a mother, there would be no services for children.

This same analysis was applied to whether or not the minor was bound by the agreement. If the minor could attend the school, based on the contract, then the minor had to be bound by the contract.

To conclude that John Doe is not bound by the Agreements otherwise enforceable terms, as Plaintiffs contend, simply because he is a minor would be tantamount to concluding that a parent can never contract with a private school (or any other service provider) on behalf and for the benefit of her child. As a practical matter, no service provider would ever agree to a contract with a parent if a child could ignore the provisions of the contract that pertain to him without recourse.

The court did not determine or decided if a parent can bind a minor to a pre-injury release. The court held that the contract allowed the court to exclude for the sake of argument, any part of the contract that it felt was unenforceable and therefore, the court could decide the issue without deciding the release issue.

The court then found the jurisdiction and venue clause were valid, and the case must be sent to California. Whether that was going to be a California court or arbitration, as required by the contract, in California was up to the California court.

At this point, the plaintiff argued the minute aspects of the contract did not force the case to be sent to California. This forced the court to scrutinize the agreement, down to the placement of a semi-colon. The court determined the jurisdiction and venue portion of the agreement applied.

Unless the forum selection clause “is shown by the resisting party to be unreasonable under the circumstances,” such clauses are prima facie valid. A choice of forum provision will be deemed “unreasonable” only when its enforcement would seriously impair the plaintiff’s ability to pursue its cause of action.” Mere inconvenience or additional expense is not sufficient evidence of unreasonableness.

So Now What?

Over and over I have stressed the importance of a well-written  jurisdiction and venue (choice of forums) clause in your release and in all documents. Here again, this clause will make litigation more difficult for the plaintiff.

You want the lawsuit in your community. Most of the witnesses are usually located there, the business is there, and you are better prepared to defend a claim there.

Another issue that was not brought up the court, but is present in the case is the decision on arbitration. Arbitration may be a great item for you to use if you are dealing with minors for several reasons.

Arbitration is cheaper and quicker than a trial. The rules governing arbitration have a shorter time frame and do not allow as much time for discovery.

Arbitrators, by statute, are usually limited on the type of amount of damages that they can award. As such, punitive or other excessive damages may not be awarded by an arbitrator.

However, arbitration is not necessarily the way to go in every case. Arbitration does not allow, normally for motions for summary judgment. If you have a well-written  release in a state that allows the use of releases, you will have a faster and better result going to court and filing a motion for summary judgment.

Whether or not to put arbitration in a release or other contract is one to be carefully reviewed based on your state, your state law and your situation with your attorney.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Summer Camp not liable for injuries of camper inflicted by another camper.

Murawski v. Camp Nageela, 4 Misc. 3d 1025A; 798 N.Y.S.2d 346; 2004 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1542; 2004 NY Slip Op 51045U

No advance knowledge of the possible assault does not make camp liable.

The plaintiff was a ten-year-old boy attending a multi-week summer camp. The plaintiff was attached by a smaller camper causing minor injuries and a broken finger. The plaintiff sued for “improper supervision and a failure to provide proper medical care after the assault.”

The defendants were the camp, camp employees and church officials who ran the camp. The defendants raised the defense of a spontaneous altercation that could not have been anticipated, and any delay in medical treatment caused no adverse effect upon the plaintiff.

The plaintiff shared a cabin with the camper who assaulted him. There had been a yelling altercation between the two boys prior to this incident. Generally, the two boys did not get along. The plaintiff was in the cabin looking for something. The smaller camper thought that the plaintiff was holding something of his when the two started yelling. The smaller camper eventually hit the plaintiff with a hockey stick.

The plaintiff did not complain to anyone about the other camper. The camp had no record of any problems and no one who saw the prior exchanges between thought those exchanges amounted to a major problem.

After the assault, the camp nurse splinted the finger of the plaintiff and followed up with the plaintiff twice. Each time the plaintiff informed the nurse his finger was feeling better. Two days later the plaintiff’s mother came to camp and took the plaintiff away for several hours. When she came back she asked the plaintiff’s finger be x-rayed. (For some reason, some reason this seems like a red flag to me.)

So?

For camps, the first hurdle that is always misunderstood by parents, rarely understood by camps and sometimes missed by courts is the standard of care that a camp owes to a camper. That standard is that of a reasonably prudent parent. That standard does not require constant supervision. The court found that constant supervision would not be a desirable situation because it would not foster self-reliance in the campers.

Camps, like schools are not insurers of safety for they cannot reasonably be expected to continuously supervise and control all movements and activities of the campers. . . .. In order to establish a breach of the duty to provide adequate supervision a plaintiff must show that the camp authorities had sufficient specific knowledge or notice of the dangerous conduct which caused the injury; that is, that the third-party acts could have reasonably been anticipated

Because constant supervision is not required, to be liable under New York law, the plaintiff must prove the camp was on notice that there was a problem or that a camper had exhibited dangerous conduct.

….there is no factual basis to conclude either that the camp’s agents had knowledge constituting notice of a particular danger to the infant plaintiff prior to the incident or that the incident that caused the infant plaintiff’s injuries was anything other than a sudden, unanticipated independent act by a fellow camper.

Thus without knowledge of prior bad acts or an intent on the part of the attacking camper, the camp is not liable for the acts of the smaller camper.

The next issue the court reviewed was the medical care. Several issues supported the camps’ defense.

The camper was inspected by a nurse initially and twice with follow ups. Each time the plaintiff told the nurse he was getting better. There was also no long-term damage to the plaintiff’s finger which would give rise to a claim or greater damages. Also, the plaintiff could not prove that the failure to provide immediate care did not cause injury upon the plaintiff.

So Now What?

You cannot rely on courts to inform parents of the standard of care that you must use with their children. That will eventually lead to insurance premiums you cannot afford.

Nor can you tell parents that you will treat their child with the same care they would. Again, parents never do anything that injures their child and any injury will create a problem for you.

What you can do is inform the parents of two things.

·        How hard you work to keep kids safe.

·        Kids get hurt.

As I have said repeatedly, absent foam rubber on every tree and trial, kids are going to find a way to get hurt. You need to make sure that parents know that the adventures and excitement that draw kids to your camp are the same things that may issue them. Like riding a bike, it takes a few crashes to learn how to ride a bike, and as you get better you push your limits more and crash some more.

If you do not get this idea across to parents, every time a kid is hurt, you may have to have a judge prove to the parent you are not liable. That is costs too much time and money.

The scary aspect of this case is the issue of medical care. Twenty years ago when I first started looking at cases in the outdoor recreation community, I never saw any allegations concerning medical care or first aid. Recently, I’ve written about two cases where it was an issue, and it seems to be a growing issue.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Is there a duty to notify parents when an investigation is being conducted by the state to protect campers?

Camp Illahee Investors, Inc., v. Blackman, 870 So. 2d 80; 2003 Fla. App. LEXIS 17549; 28 Fla. L. Weekly D 2672

Parents claim the camp was negligent in not informing them the state department of social services was going to or had interviewed their kids.

The problem is the case does not answer the question. This again, is a jurisdiction and venue motion that was appealed. The defendant camp was located in North Carolina. The plaintiffs were Florida’s residents. The only contact the camp had with Florida was 22% of its campers came from Florida, and one of the owners would spend a week in Florida every year drumming up business for the next summer.

The initial allegations giving rise to the litigation are very interesting. The plaintiff’s claim, the camp and the owners were negligent because the:

…Defendants had a duty, after being informed that the North Carolina County Department of Social Services desired to interview the Plaintiffs’ minor children, to notify the Plaintiffs of the fact that the minor children were to be interviewed by the North Carolina County Department of Social Services about possible child abuse….

There was a second allegation that a junior counselor had injured one of the plaintiff’s when he stepped on her feet. (Where they dancing?) This claim was not resolved in this appeal either.

Summary of the case

The plaintiff’s sued in Florida, and the defendants moved to dismiss. The trial court did not dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, and the defendants appealed. The defendants argued that they were:

…not subject to the jurisdiction of a Florida court and, even if jurisdiction existed in Florida, that North Carolina was an adequate alternative forum. Camp Illahee further argued that it was immune from suit under North Carolina law and that Florida’s impact rule required dismissal.

To support their argument the defendant must show the facts that prove their allegations. That is usually done by affidavits of the defendants and possibly others to prove the issue, or really, the lack of contact with the state.

Camp Illahee is a North Carolina corporation; the summer camp is located in North Carolina; Camp Illahee has no offices in Florida; it has no employees in Florida, although some of the employees who work at the camp during the summer are from Florida; Camp Illahee does no advertising in Florida by newspapers, radio, or television, but it has a one and one-half page posting on its internet website advising of “fall reunion and video shows.”

The court must then look at the State Long Arm Statute to determine if the facts make the defendant subject to the jurisdiction of the court. Under Florida’s law that analysis is:

…whether (1) there are sufficient jurisdictional facts to bring the action within the purview of the long-arm statute; and (2) the nonresident defendant involved has sufficient minimum contacts with Florida to satisfy constitutional due process requirements.

The Florida Long Arm Statute sets forth the minimum requirements to establish jurisdiction over out of state parties.

Section 48.193(1)(a)

(1) Any person, whether or not a citizen or resident of this state, who personally or through an agent does any of the acts enumerated in this subsection thereby submits himself or herself and, if he or she is a natural person, his or her personal representative to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state for any cause of action arising from the doing of any of the following acts:

(a) Operating, conducting, engaging in, or carrying on a business or business venture in this state or having an office or agency in this state.

Section 48.193(2):

A defendant who is engaged in substantial and not isolated activity within this state, whether such activity is wholly interstate, intrastate, or otherwise, is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state, whether or not the claim arises from that activity.

The court then applies the information presented by the parties to the requirements of the statutes to see if the defendant has the necessary minimum contacts with the state to be sued in that state and subject to the laws of that state.

So Now What?

The trend from the courts is to allow you to be brought into distant states and their judicial system. This case is a rarity. This is another example of where the agreement between the camp and the parents or any parties to any outdoor recreation, should agree in advance to where any litigation will be developed.

As far as notifying parents of an interview by social services for possible child abuse, I think I would always lean towards notifying the parents. In fact, I think I would notify the parents immediately. A parent must believe that their child is safe. Whether the child is safe is put into question, if social services is investigating your camp.

This may be a PR nightmare or disaster for any camp or program dealing with minors. You will need to make sure you bring in PR professionals and probably your attorney if this situation arises.

You should also set up a program and working relationship where anyone can come and talk to you about problems. Hopefully, before social services had been called, you are on top of the issue and have dealt with it.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Copyright 2012 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

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Camp Illahee Investors, Inc., v. Blackman, 870 So. 2d 80; 2003 Fla. App. LEXIS 17549; 28 Fla. L. Weekly D 2672

Camp Illahee Investors, Inc., v. Blackman, 870 So. 2d 80; 2003 Fla. App. LEXIS 17549; 28 Fla. L. Weekly D 2672

Camp Illahee Investors, Inc., a North Carolina Corporation, Appellant, v. Michael Blackman and Patrice Blackman, Individually and as the Parents, Natural Guardians and next best friends of Olivia Blackman and Sophie Blackman, minor children, and Frank Tindall and Elizabeth Tindall, Appellees.

Case No. 2D02-4324

COURT OF APPEAL OF FLORIDA, SECOND DISTRICT

870 So. 2d 80; 2003 Fla. App. LEXIS 17549; 28 Fla. L. Weekly D 2672

November 19, 2003, Opinion Filed

PRIOR HISTORY: [**1] Appeal from nonfinal order of the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County; Daniel E. Gallagher, Senior Judge.

DISPOSITION: Reversed and remanded with directions.

COUNSEL: J. Gregory Giannuzzi of Rissman, Weisberg, Barrett, Hurt, Donahue & McLain, P.A., Tampa, for Appellant.

Jeffrey A. Blau, Tampa, for Appellees Michael Blackman and Patrice Blackman, Individually and as the Parents, Natural Guardians and next best friends of Olivia Blackman and Sophie Blackman, minor children.

No appearance for Appellees, Frank Tindall and Elizabeth Tindall.

JUDGES: SILBERMAN, Judge. STRINGER, J., and THREADGILL, EDWARD F., SENIOR JUDGE, Concur.

OPINION BY: SILBERMAN

OPINION

[*82] SILBERMAN, Judge.

Camp Illahee Investors, Inc., a North Carolina corporation, appeals a nonfinal [*83] order that denied its motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Because jurisdiction was not established under Florida’s long-arm statute, we reverse.

Appellees Michael and Patrice Blackman, individually and on behalf of their minor daughters, sued Camp Illahee and its owners, Frank and Elizabeth Tindall, for alleged torts committed in North Carolina while [**2] the Blackmans’ two daughters were attending summer camp in 2001. 1 In their first amended complaint, the Blackmans alleged that while their daughters were at the camp, someone placed an “anonymous child abuse call” to a county department of social services in North Carolina, whose representatives then interviewed the Blackmans’ daughters. The Blackmans alleged that the “Defendants had a duty, after being informed that the North Carolina County Department of Social Services desired to interview the Plaintiffs’ minor children, to notify the Plaintiffs of the fact that the minor children were to be interviewed by the North Carolina County Department of Social Services about possible child abuse.” The Blackmans also alleged that a junior counselor battered one of the daughters “by stepping on her feet and inflicting other physical injuries and mental abuse” on her.

1 The trial court dismissed the Tindalls from the litigation, and the Blackmans have not appealed that ruling.

Camp Illahee filed a motion to dismiss [**3] and asserted, among other grounds, that it was not subject to the jurisdiction of a Florida court and, even if jurisdiction existed in Florida, that North Carolina was an adequate alternative forum. Camp Illahee further argued that it was immune from suit under North Carolina law and that Florida’s impact rule required dismissal.

Camp Illahee submitted affidavits from the Tindalls, the owners and operators of the camp. The affidavits reflect that Camp Illahee is a North Carolina corporation; the summer camp is located in North Carolina; Camp Illahee has no offices in Florida; it has no employees in Florida, although some of the employees who work at the camp during the summer are from Florida; Camp Illahee does no advertising in Florida by newspapers, radio, or television, but it has a one and one-half page posting on its internet website advising of “fall reunion and video shows.”

Mrs. Tindall’s affidavit also reflects that she travels to various states to engage in the reunion and video shows, which are designed to have “the children get together to talk about Camp, and to become excited for camp the next summer.” The reunions take place in the homes of camp families, and the [**4] families receive a discount in the camp fee for hosting the reunions. The discounts amounted to .15% of Camp Illahee’s gross revenues in 2000 and .08% in 2001. In 2000 and 2001, 22% of the campers were from Florida.

Although Camp Illahee argues that its motion to dismiss could properly have been granted on any of the grounds raised in its motion, the key issue is whether the trial court had long-arm jurisdiction over Camp Illahee. [HN1] Our standard of review on the issue of personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation is de novo. See Execu-Tech Bus. Sys., Inc. v. New Oji Paper Co., 752 So. 2d 582, 584 (Fla. 2000). [HN2] Additionally, we are required to strictly construe Florida’s long-arm statute. See Esberger v. First Fla. Bus. Consultants, Inc., 338 So. 2d 561, 562 (Fla. 2d DCA 1976).

The pertinent facts relating to jurisdiction are not in dispute. [HN3] The determination [*84] of whether the trial court has personal jurisdiction over Camp Illahee turns on “whether (1) there are sufficient jurisdictional facts to bring the action within the purview of the long-arm statute; and (2) the nonresident defendant involved has sufficient minimum contacts with Florida to [**5] satisfy constitutional due process requirements.” Kin Yong Lung Indus. Co. v. Temple, 816 So. 2d 663, 666 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002); see also Venetian Salami Co. v. Parthenais, 554 So. 2d 499, 502 (Fla. 1989).

In its order denying the motion to dismiss, the trial court did not discuss this two-prong test. Instead, it simply stated, “Jurisdiction as to Camp Illahee Investors, Inc. will remain in Florida pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens, as set forth in Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.061.” However, [HN4] before reaching the issue of forum non conveniens under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.061, the trial court was required to first determine whether it had in personam jurisdiction in accordance with the two-prong test. See La Reunion Francaise, S.A. v. La Costena, 818 So. 2d 657, 659 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002) (concluding that there was no personal jurisdiction over the foreign defendant and, therefore, no need to reach other issues raised in the motion to dismiss, including the issue of forum non conveniens).

After reviewing the record and the applicable statutory language in light of the required two-prong jurisdictional analysis, we conclude [**6] that the trial court should have dismissed the Blackmans’ first amended complaint for lack of in personam jurisdiction. The allegations of the first amended complaint establish that the only possible bases for jurisdiction are under sections 48.193(1)(a) or 48.193(2) of the long-arm statute. Section 48.193(1)(a) [HN5] provides as follows:

(1) Any person, whether or not a citizen or resident of this state, who personally or through an agent does any of the acts enumerated in this subsection thereby submits himself or herself and, if he or she is a natural person, his or her personal representative to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state for any cause of action arising from the doing of any of the following acts:

(a) Operating, conducting, engaging in, or carrying on a business or business venture in this state or having an office or agency in this state.

Section 48.193(2) [HN6] states as follows:

A defendant who is engaged in substantial and not isolated activity within this state, whether such activity is wholly interstate, intrastate, or otherwise, is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state, whether or not the claim arises from that activity.

In the trial [**7] court, the Blackmans asserted that because Mrs. Tindall came to Florida one week a year for the reunion and video shows, Camp Illahee was conducting business in Florida. They also argued that the families that hosted the reunions were agents of Camp Illahee.

Concerning the agency argument, nothing in the record reflects that either an apparent or actual agency relationship existed between the host families and Camp Illahee. In particular, there was no showing that Camp Illahee made any representations that the host families were the agents of Camp Illahee, or that Camp Illahee, as principal, exercised control over the families, as agents. See Ilgen v. Henderson Props., Inc., 683 So. 2d 513, 514-15 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996) (discussing the elements necessary to establish apparent or actual agency); State v. Am. Tobacco Co., 707 So. 2d 851, 854 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) (stating that control by the principal [*85] over the agent is a necessary element of agency).

The Blackmans’ second argument is premised on section 48.193(1), which confers jurisdiction for “any cause of action arising from the doing of” any of the enumerated items, such as conducting business in Florida. [**8] [HN7] By its terms, section 48.193(1) requires connexity between the defendant’s activities and the cause of action. Wendt v. Horowitz, 822 So. 2d 1252, 1260 (Fla. 2002). Here, the record reflects that the connexity requirement has not been met because the Blackmans’ claims did not arise from the reunions and video shows that took place in Florida during one week per year. Rather, the claims arose out of alleged torts that occurred in North Carolina while the Blackmans’ daughters attended the camp.

Even if the undisputed facts fell within the ambit of section 48.193(1), Camp Illahee must have sufficient minimum contacts with Florida to satisfy due process requirements. See Venetian Salami, 554 So. 2d at 500. [HN8] The test is whether Camp Illahee’s conduct is such that it “should reasonably anticipate being haled into court” in Florida. See Venetian Salami, 554 So. 2d at 500 (quoting World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297, 62 L. Ed. 2d 490, 100 S. Ct. 559 (1980)); see also Emerson v. Cole, 847 So. 2d 606, 608 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003). We agree with Camp Illahee that the limited contact between it [**9] and Florida as a result of the yearly reunion and video shows is insufficient to establish that it could reasonably anticipate being haled into court in Florida for the allegedly tortious conduct occurring in North Carolina.

A second potential basis for jurisdiction is section 48.193(2), which provides that a defendant is subject to a Florida court’s jurisdiction when the defendant “is engaged in substantial and not isolated activity within this state . . . whether or not the claim arises from that activity.” [HN9] This section “does not require connexity between a defendant’s activities and the cause of action.” Woods v. Nova Cos. Belize Ltd., 739 So. 2d 617, 620 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999). Additionally, if the defendant’s activities meet the requirements of this section, the due process requirement of minimum contacts is fulfilled. Id. However, the record before us does not support a conclusion that Camp Ilahee’s conduct constitutes substantial activity in Florida. See deMco Techs., Inc. v. C.S. Engineered Castings, Inc., 769 So. 2d 1128, 1132 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000) (stating that sporadic sales in Florida could not provide jurisdiction for litigation regarding [**10] an unrelated promissory note); Price v. Point Marine, Inc., 610 So. 2d 1339, 1341 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) (noting that sporadic activities or visits to Florida consisting of the occasional solicitation of business in Florida do not constitute “substantial and not isolated activity”).

Because the undisputed facts do not demonstrate a basis for jurisdiction under Florida’s long-arm statute, we reverse and remand with directions that the trial court dismiss the Blackmans’ claims without prejudice to their refiling the claims in the appropriate jurisdiction. In light of our conclusion regarding the lack of in personam jurisdiction, the other grounds asserted by Camp Illahee in support of reversal are moot.

Reversed and remanded with directions.

STRINGER, J., and THREADGILL, EDWARD F., SENIOR JUDGE, Concur.

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This case is a summer camp lawsuit and the decision looks at venue and jurisdiction; however the complaint alleges medical malpractice against a camp!

Bernstein v Wysoki et al., 77 A.D.3d 241; 907 N.Y.S.2d 49; 2010 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 6579; 2010 NY Slip Op 6475; 244 N.Y.L.J. 43

I really wish I could find out how this case resolved

This case covers a fact pattern that probably occurs weekly during the summer. The camper started suffering some illness. The camper was treated at camp by the camp physician and camp nurse then sent to a local hospital.

The parents sued the camp, camp physician, camp nurse and the treating physicians at the hospital for medical malpractice. The specific claim against the camp and its nurse and physician was a failure to “…timely recognize and properly care for and treat Jordan’s condition.”

In order to enroll the child in the camp, the parents were required to sign a camp contract. The contract covered many different details but was never identified by the court as a release.

The mother sued the camp in New York for the alleged injuries to her son.

So?

The second paragraph of the camp contract gave the camp permission to treat the child for any medical surgical or dental issues.

If it is necessary to obtain off-camp medical/surgical/dental services for the camper, such as expenses shall be paid by the parent except the portion supplied by the camp medical staff. Authority is granted without limitation to the camp/assigns in all medical matters to hospitalize/treat/order injections/anesthesia/surgery for the camper. The parent is responsible for all pre-existing medical conditions, out of camp medical/surgical/hospital/pharmaceutical/allergy expenses and for providing adequate quantities of necessary medications and allergy serums to camp in pharmacy containers with doctor’s instructions. The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) hereby states that the camper is in good, normal health and has no abnormal physical, emotional, or mental handicaps”.

(For other articles looking at the medical issues of camps and outdoor activities see Texas makes it easier to write a release because the law is clear, North Carolina may allow a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue for injuries when the minor is engaged in non-profit activities sponsored by schools, volunteers, or community organizations, ACA Standards are used by Expert for the Plaintiff in a lawsuit against a Camp, Adult volunteer responsibility ends when the minor is delivered back to his parents.)

The basis of the legal arguments on appeal were the jurisdiction and venue of the lawsuit. (For more articles on venue and jurisdiction see Four releases signed and all of them thrown out because they lacked one simple sentence!, A Recent Colorado Supreme Court Decision lowers the requirements to be brought into the state to defend a lawsuit., Jurisdiction in Massachusetts allows a plaintiff to bring in Salomon France to the local court., The legal relationship created between manufactures and US consumers.). The camp was located in Pennsylvania and the jurisdiction and venue clause required any suit to be in Pennsylvania.

The venue of any dispute that may arise out of this agreement or otherwise between the parties to which the camp or its agents is a party shall be either the local District Justice Court or the Court of Common Pleas, Wayne County, Pennsylvania”

The camp operated out of an office in Pennsylvania in the summer where the camp was located, but it had an office in New York during the winter. When the child was ill, he was taken to a hospital which was located in New York.

The camp, camp nurse and camp physician filed motions to dismiss the complaint based on the jurisdiction and venue clause in the contract. The hospital and other physicians being sued also filed motions to dismiss based on the jurisdiction and venue clause in the contract. The contract stated, “the forum selection clause applies to “any dispute that may arise out of this agreement or otherwise between the parties to which the camp or its agents is a party

To void a jurisdiction and/or venue clause the party opposing it must prove that the clause is:

…unreasonable, unjust, in contravention of public policy, invalid due to fraud or overreaching, or it is shown that a trial in the selected forum would be so gravely difficult that the challenging party would, for all practical purposes, be deprived of its day in court.

Without proof of such an issue, then jurisdiction and venue clause are valid and enforceable and will not be set aside. The plaintiff did not prove to the court any of the necessary elements to have the clause set aside.

Thus, the contract allowed the court to dismiss the camp, camp nurse and camp physician’s as defendant and force the plaintiff to re-file the lawsuit in the Wayne County Pennsylvania court. “Accordingly, since the forum selection clause addresses jurisdiction and contains mandatory venue language, the clause fixing venue is enforceable…”

Third Parties – non camp employees

The physicians and hospital argued the language in the contact and the relationship between themselves and the camp then extended the jurisdiction and venue of the contact to them. As such they should be sued in the Common Pleas court of Wayne County Pennsylvania. However, the court found the parties to the original contract, the camp and the parents did not foresee the contract extending that far to third parties.

To reach to third parties in such a case the contract must.

…there are three sets of circumstances under which a non-party may invoke a forum selection clause: First, it is well settled that an entity or individual that is a third-party beneficiary of the agreement may enforce a forum selection clause found within the agreement. Second, parties to a ‘global transaction’ who are not signatories to a specific agreement within that transaction may nonetheless benefit from a forum selection clause contained in such agreement if the agreements are executed at the same time, by the same parties or for the same purpose. Third, a nonparty that is ‘closely related’ to one of the signatories can enforce a forum selection clause. The relationship between the nonparty and the signatory in such cases must be sufficiently close so that enforcement of the clause is foreseeable by virtue of the relationship between them.

Because the parties to the original contract did not contemplate in their formation of the contract, that hospital and physicians would be part of the agreement, the court could not extend the agreement to them in the suit.

So Now What?

This is a good discussion and points out the importance of having a forum selection clause in your documents and especially your release.

The scary and still unanswered part of the decision is the claims of medical malpractice can still be raised against the camp in Pennsylvania.

Make sure you contact your insurance agent and verify that you would be covered if a medical-malpractice  claim is brought against you in a case like this. If you have or employee physicians, nurses or other licensed health care providers, you will need to have specific medical-malpractice  coverage to cover them if you are sued. However, coverage for a non-entity such as a camp is rarely written into a policy.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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I’ll be Speaking at the 2012 Association of Independent Camps Conference in Atlanta

AICLogo-RGB-small for web
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A big southern “Hi y’all !!!” to all the camp directors and owners out there. It’s almost time for AIC’s national conference and you need to make sure you have all your plans in place to join us in Atlantaon February 19th- 21st. It’s going to be one of the most informative and fun conferences you’ll ever attend!We’re going to open the conference with award winning author and radio host Charles Sykes. If you’ve ever read any of his books or heard him on the radio, you know you don’t want to miss out on this session.Charlie is senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and a talk show host at WTMJ radio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today and is the author of six books: A Nation of Victims, Dumbing Down Our Kids, Profscam, The Hollow Men, The End of Privacy, and 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School.

Our breakout sessions will include speakers from all aspects of business and camping (tax accountants, lawyers, and staff trainers to name a few) and each one will bring important information that will help you run your camp more productively and efficiently. If you want to survive, and even prosper, in today’s world and economy, these are all topics that you simply can’t learn too much about!

For those of you that haven’t signed up yet, you’ll want to hurry before the spaces get filled and you miss out on what will be one of the best investments your camp will make this year.

But don’t just take my word for how great these speakers are, we Southerners are well-known for stretching the truth. It’s not that we don’t know what the truth is; we just agree with what Mark Twain said, “Get your facts first. Then you can distort them any way you please.” Click on the picture below and see a brief video of our speakers for yourself on YouTube – then decide if you’d like to join us in Atlanta!

larry_johnson

Now for the many of you that already have signed up (and those of you still deciding), click on the link below to get up to date information about the conference as well as travel tips on the easiest way to get to the conference hotel once you arrive in Atlanta. For those of y’all that think you can just ask someone where the hotel on Peachtree street is… well, there’s 55 streets in Atlanta with the word Peachtree in it. Good luck!!! Do yourself a favor and use the link to get the information we’re providing for you, it will be the first of many ways that AIC will be able to help you this year!!

As the date gets closer for the conference, we’ll have one more email with weather updates, and any final tips you might need to know to make this one of the most enjoyable and productive conferences you’ll attend.

AIC Atlanta info

We’re glad you’re coming down to join us and we can’t wait to see ya!!!!
Larry Johnson
AIC kindred chair 2012

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Illinois lawsuit filed over drowning death of a man at a summer camp.

Claims seem to be based on whether or not there was lighting to swim at night.

The deceased was a fifteen year-old person who drowned while attending a summer camp. Supposedly, he was swimming after dark, after 9:00 PM. The allegations claim that there must be adequate lighting to swim after dark.

What lighting has to do with finding someone after dark in a lake is a little confusing. However, it does not matter if the rule or law makes no sense, you must abide by it.

Most of the information for the article seems to come from the attorney for the plaintiffs. Obviously, the information is slightly slanted……

But?

What can you as the defendant do then? If you respond to the allegations, you can harm a defense, and for sure you will just start a PR war with the plaintiff’s.

Worse you will be caught off guard because the plaintiff will spend days preparing their press release to be given at a press conference, and you will be contacted on the phone by a reporter and given 15 seconds to respond.

Don’t.

Tell the reporter you will look at the press release and review the press conference, and you will have a response. Whatever else the reporter may say, do not worry about it. They’ll argue deadlines; you need to respond, and you can have them read the press release to you. It is all a setup, don’t take the bait.

The only people you really have to make sure understand the truth is the jury from a liability perspective.

However, you also have a business to run, and you need to make sure the plaintiff’s allegations don’t sink your business. Hire an attorney and a PR team and respond. Have your attorney set up a press conference and refute the plaintiff’s allegations.

You have to take a beating, and maybe you’ll have nothing to say at a press conference. If that is the case, you’ll suffer through the slings and arrows of the plaintiff and the press.

However, you do not have the skills, education, training or temperament to deal with a response or the press.

Don’t.

To read the article see Buffalo Grove family sues campground for son’s drowning death.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2011 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

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NJ court holds ski statute stops suit by snowboarding expert for hitting a post

Neustadter v. Mountain Creek Resort, Inc., 2008 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1584

You hit a post as an expert and expect the resort to be at fault

In this New Jersey decision, the plaintiff sued Mountain Creek Resort for the injuries he sustained when he snowboarded into a piece of PVC pipe holding orange netting. The netting was used to separate two runs, one for experts and one for beginners.

The plaintiff stated he swerved to avoid a cluster of skiers hitting the post. Under New Jersey law a manmade object should be removed as soon as possible, unless necessary for the normal operation of the resort. N.J.S.A. 5:13-3(a)(3)
 
The plaintiff claimed the defendant “plaintiff claimed defendant “negligently, carelessly, and/or recklessly designed, constructed, supervised, operated and/or maintained the premises so as to create and/or allow a dangerous and hazardous condition to exist.” The judge at the trial court level dismissed the plaintiff’s case in the middle of the trial because the plaintiff had failed to prove his case.

The judge had also limited the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness because the expert witness had only visited the site once and his opinion included information and photographs that were not relevant to the facts of the case. The plaintiff’s expert did not have experience in running a ski operation so a large part of his opinion on the operation of the resort was also excluded.

After the dismissal the plaintiff appealed where the NJ Appellate court reached this decision finding for the defendant.

Analysis

The analysis of this case is very different. Normally you look at what the defendant did wrong, but what the plaintiff failed to do.

First the plaintiff hired an expert who either was asked or on his own went beyond the parameters of his area of expertise. An expert witness can only testify about what they have expertise either through experience, education or skill has specialized knowledge or expertise in an area. However that area is strictly defined. When an expert offers opinions beyond the area of expertise the court is required to eliminate or restrict the testimony.

Second, to go forward with a case and to ultimately win a decision at the trial court level the plaintiff has to prove all of the points necessary to prove negligence or to prove the statute was violated. Here, when the plaintiff lost the expert witnesses testimony he did not have enough proof to sustain his case.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2011 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law, Recreation.Law@Gmail.com

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How do you prove to a cop that you were not at fault in an accident with a car when you were on a bike?

Crumple zones and skid marks don’t work in cycling.

When two cars collide there are several things besides the statements of the drivers that a cop (police officer when they do things correctly and cop when they don’t) can use to determine who was a fault. When a car hits cyclists, there are one set of skid marks, the cars, but rarely any on the pavement from the bike. Consequently it will be your statement against the drivers and cops have an affinity to believe the driver.
What do you do and in what order to make sure the correct person is handed a ticket and you are your bike are taken care of.

Before you take off on a ride:

  1. Get a smartphone and/or
  2. Get a GPS unit that records your travels in detail
  3. Download to your smartphone an app that tracks your location and time in as small of increments as possible.

When you go on your ride:

  1. Start the GPS unit or your smart phone program
  2. Tell someone where you are going and when you should be expected back
  3. Make sure you can dial 911 easily and quickly from your phone
  4. Make sure you can call friends if need help.
  5. Make sure you know how to use your phone’s camera
  6. a. Make sure you know how to upload photos to some site when you take them at the same time leaving a copy on your phone

  • F. Put an app on your phone that allows you to record conversations and upload or email those files to a third party or upload them

If you are in an accident:

  1. Call 911
  2. Tell them you have been involved in an accident, there are injuries (if there are) and damages and request the police

    Do not state that one of the vehicles is a bike if you can because that may slow response in some jurisdictions.

  3. Photograph everything, the car, the bike, the scene and any witnesses, especially reluctant ones.
  4. Get names and addresses of any witnesses and ask them to stick around until the cops arrive
  5.           Take a picture of the witnesses so you can match the information to each witness
  6.           Better photograph their driver’s license
  7.          Upload your photographs to a safe site, keeping copies on your phone to show the cop
  8. Get the driver’s information and while you’re doing that
  9. Record the driver’s conversation. Initially most people tell the truth, only when the cops arrive do they start to change stories.

However, do not give all of this to the police officer unless you have backed it up or have copies; it may disappear. If the conversation is backed up by the evidence or telling, let the officer hear it and tell the officer as soon as you can get it downloaded you can provide a copy. However you cannot give him the smartphone as it is your only phone. Ask the officer if you can email the recording to him from your phone and do so along with any photographs.

If your GPS allows you, do the same with your track on the GPS. Tell the officer it requires special software that you have to download and print the track and you will deliver it to him ASAP, but be hesitant about giving him the GPS.

Always set your GPS to record as much information as possible for each of your rides. A report that only provides data every several minutes may not sure you stopped at the stop sign before proceeding into the intersection. However multiple GPS hits at one spot with the time stamp will show you obeyed the law.
At the same time, always ride as the law requires. If you do not you will provide the police with the information needed to ignore your story or even write you’re a ticket

Get the case number from the officer and his information. Many officers carry business cards now days. Get the officers business card, and take a photograph of it with your phone and upload it. (In case you lose it or it gets sweaty and can’t be used.) Find out how you can supplement the report with a transcript or a copy of the recording, photographs and a download of the GPS report showing your mode of travel.

If you have the GPS track on your phone make sure you email a copy of the track, photographs and recording to yourself ASAP to have a back copy of everything.

You may not be able to win the argument at the scene; cops are tuned to disregard cyclists. Put together a package of the information you have and deliver it to the police officer. Get a receipt when you do. If you do not hear from the officer within 7 days, find out the officers supervisor and give a copy of your information to him, with a cover letter. Also at that time, give a copy of the report to your county commissioner or city council person anyone who was elected to their position and has responsibility for the police.

If that does not work, go to the press and/or a police overview group. The squeaky wheel gets greased and until you make enough noise that someone cares, you may not get satisfaction.

The whole key is to get enough information to be able to prove your point from anyone or anything other than you. Photographs, recordings, notes and other people are more credible than cyclists in many cases when pleading a case. If nothing else, those third parties and things will support your claims.

For examples of how this has worked see: Why Every Cyclist Should Ride With GPS and Why Every Cyclist Should Think About A GPS

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2011 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law, Recreation.Law@Gmail.com

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Playgrounds will be flat soon

No swings, teeter totters or anything above a blade of grass…artificial grass.

Cabell County Schools are removing swing-sets from all elementary school playgrounds. The swing-sets are being

Swing seat rust

Swing seat rust (Photo credit: cynicalview)

removed because of insurance issues and lawsuits stemming from swing-set injuries.

In the past two years, the school district has settled two swing-set claims and is fighting two swing-set related lawsuits.

However, there was a quote that caught my attention. “”In this day and age, we have to do everything we can to keep kids safe,” said Jedd Flowers of the school district.

Why? Why is it the school systems’ job to keep kids safe? There is a difference between falling down or falling off a swing and being kept safe. This is not an issue where young children are being put at risk. At what point in time do we start putting kids in bubble wrap before sending them out the door.

See Risk Management: Preventing Injuries or Preventing Lawsuits? for more of my comments on this idea.

It is this quote that sent me through the roof!

Many of the county’s elementary schools use mulch around their swing sets, although national safety standards now call for rubber-based surfaces, Stewart said. Those types of surfaces can cost at least $7,500 per swing set, he said.

A new standard created by some do gooder group has forced the removal of swing-sets from the school yard. Sure rubber surfaces are better but not everyone can afford one. All the creation of this standard did was eliminate swing-sets not keep kids safe. At least it is going to be a standard that will eventually be obsolete because no on will have a swing set.

A commercial swing-set with four swings costs a playground about $1000 to $1500. However, when you add the cost of the rubber matting the total price of a swing-set is $9000! Or roughly 6 swing-sets.

When I said flat ground? The swing-sets are not going to be replaced with anything because the school district no longer deals with playgrounds.

The dictionary will have to change its definitions; playground will now be a synonym for field.

See School system removing swings

For more articles about how ridiculous standards are see Can a Standard Impede Inventions?, Basics of the Article are Good – But it confuses certification, accreditation and most importantly standards. and This is how a standard in the industry changes…..but….

Sorry my headline is incorrect. Teeter totters were removed years ago because they were dangerous………

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2010 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law, Recreaton.Law@Gmail.com

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Why do people sue? Not for the money.

Answer their questions and you don’t give someone a reason to find a lawyer.

The headline is Parents file suit against city and club. The lawsuit is over the death of a 6 year old boy who drowned in a city pool less than a month before.

Could you predict this lawsuit was going to happen? I think you could if you were the city. Here are four hints that maybe you are going to be sued.

Hint #1 Even the attorney says the lawsuit is to get information.

“From the family’s point of view, it has been three weeks (since their son died) and they have no information on what happened,” Whitaker said.

“They still don’t know what actually happened.”

He said the lawsuit seeks monetary damages for wrongful death, but a big part of the filing is to have access to information about how the child died.

“All my clients are hearing right now is second-hand,” he said. “It’s terrible for them.”

Hint #2 If you plan to get sued you will get sued.

City officials referred all questions regarding the lawsuit to City Attorney Allen Betz. An employee at Betz’s office said he was out of the office Friday and could not be reached for comment.

Hint #3 If you don’t answer a parent’s questions you are going to get a lawsuit.

“We just want to know what happened. The family feels the only way they will get answers is through the lawsuit.”

Parents wanted to know what happened to their child and the only answers they received was “call the city’s attorney.” There are three major and stupid reasons for doing this.

1. The attorney was not there and therefore, can’t answer any questions.

2. Attorneys don’t answer questions anyway.

3. Attorneys intimidate people. Who wants to talk to an attorney?

I know, I’m an attorney!

What was another hint?

Hint #4 The lawsuit was filed 25 days after the death. People never file lawsuits that soon.

Within three weeks of the death, the family has all ready hired an attorney. Whether because they felt so frustrated that they felt they had no choice, or because they had to fight fire with fire (attorney v. attorney) or a combination of reasons, that should be a hint you need to do something or pay attorneys!

The only real legal issue in the article is the miscommunication between the parents and the pool employees.

In the lawsuit, Whitaker said Terry Lavka told a woman stationed at the sign-in table when he took his son there for the summer day camp that Samuel Lavka was afraid of water, could not swim and should not be allowed near the big pool.

“They didn’t want him in the pool because he couldn’t swim,” Whitaker said. “They were told that, and the parents believed those instructions would be followed.

If someone tells you or one of your employees something about their concerns, fees or beliefs about what you are going to do, you need to correct them or pay attention to them. Here the parents believed that because they had told the pool employees something that was the way it was going to be.

This is a tragic accident. A six year old boy drowns in a city pool. The tragedy is compounded because the parents still don’t know what happened to their son. Their grief will not end but be compounded for years as the litigation drags on, and they grasp tidbits of answers about what happened.

For other articles about this issue see: It’s Not Money and Serious Disconnect: Why people sue.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2010 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law, Recreaton.Law@Gmail.com

Twitter: RecreationLaw

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Update on SBTW right to raft case

I reported in an early article Historical Use v. Money, Control & Power that a summer camp in Pennsylvania was suing the state to regain access to raft in a

Campers and staff of Camp Becket of the Becket...

Image via Wikipedia

state park. The Tribune Democrat is reporting that the summer camp, Summer’s Best Two Weeks lost their attempt to receive an injunction. The article, Raft trip runs aground in court states a three judge panel denied the injunction.

An injunction is as it sounds, an immediate court order requiring someone to do or not to do something.

The article is unclear and I have not seen pleadings to determine if the attempts by SBTW are over or they are continuing their suit. Many times you can be successful on the main litigation after you have lost the injunction motion.

 

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