Earlier this month, the Idaho Supreme Court decided a case brought by a man who was injured when he slipped and fell while attending a Pop Warner football game in Plummer, Idaho. In the case, Hayes v. Plummer, the plaintiff sued the city who owned the park where the injury occurred, but he was prevented from recovering damages because the court determined that the City of Plummer enjoyed sovereign immunity from this type of lawsuit.
The plaintiff was attending his grandson’s Pop Warner football game back in September 2011 when he slipped on some uneven ground that was covered by a tuft of grass. The man did not pay any admission to get into the park nor to watch the game. The man sustained injuries and filed a premises liability lawsuit against the city, seeking monetary compensation.
As it turns out, back in 1976, the park was conveyed to the City from a local school district. Park of the agreement was that the school district would continue to pay for the utilities and make improvements on the land, as needed.
At trial, the plaintiff claimed that the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which often governs lawsuits against cities or other municipalities, should not apply here. The City disagreed, saying that sovereign immunity should apply, and if it does the city is immune from the lawsuit.
The City pointed to the statute outlining when sovereign immunity applies and explained to the court that it is only when the city charges money that they can be held liable for simple negligence. The plaintiff attempted to convince the court that, since the local school district still pays for the utilities and makes improvements on the land, there is some “charge” to the public for the use of the land.
The trial court rejected that argument and granted summary judgment on behalf of the defendant, the City of Plummer.
On appeal, the plaintiff attempted to convince the appellate court of his argument but failed. The Supreme Court of Idaho agreed with the defendant and affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuit.
The court reiterated the law and explained that when a government opens its land without charge for recreational purposes, the government cannot be held liable under a traditional negligence theory. Therefore, unless the plaintiff was able to prove gross negligence, which was not alleged, the city would retain its sovereign immunity.
Have You Been Injured While on the Land of Another?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of serious slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. If the incident took place on public land that belongs to a local or state government, there may be additional hurdles to recovery. Make sure you are well represented in your case and retain the services of a skilled personal injury advocate to assist you in the preparation and presentation of your case. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated attorney.
More Blog Posts:
Family Brings Suit Against Department of Transportation in Failure-to-Maintain Case, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 15, 2015.
Marine Struck and Killed in Thurmont by Hit-and-Run Driver, Maryland Accident Law Blog, October 7, 2015.