Issue: Were the owners of real property adjacent to land actually used for recreation liable to a woman who slip and fell in the parking lot after a fireworks display at the school when she slip and fell in the parking lot of the school?
In Mason v. Berea Independent School District Finance Corporation, (2007 WL 2998510 (Ky.App.), Ms. Mason had attended a fireworks display at the football stadium owned by the City of Berea in 2004. Parking was provided at the Berea Community School which is adjacent to the stadium. Id. No charge was required for either the fireworks or the parking. Id. After the fireworks on the way to her car, Plaintiff slip and fell in a storm drain marked by a brightly painted yellow curb in the parking lot of the school. Id. There were no prior notifications of a potential hazard regarding this area. Id. Plaintiff filed suit and the trial court dismissed the case pursuant to KRS 411.190. This Court of Appeals affirmed. The reasoning is as follows.
KRS 411.190 states in part that: 1(c) “Recreational purpose” includes things like boating, fishing, nature study, viewing or enjoying historical, archeological, scenic, or scientific sites… (2) The purpose of this section is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes…. (3) Except as specifically recognized by or provided by subsection (6) of this section, an owner of land owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes, or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure,… (4) … an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any person to use the property for recreation purposes does not thereby: (a) Extend any assurance that the premise are safe for any purpose; 2(b) Confer upon the person the legal status of an invitee or license to whom a duty of care is owed; or (c) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property cause by an act or omission of those persons.” Id. (This section would apply to a slip and fall case in Kentucky).
“A plain reading of this statute indicates that immunity is not conditioned upon the injury arising out of the recreational activity per se, as long as the person injured was on the property for a recreational purpose. (cites omitted). Id. Plaintiff tried to argue that she entered the lot merely to park her car and not engage in recreation. Id. But, the trial court did not buy that argument. The trial court found that “her presence there in that lot on that day was directly and singularly related to her participation in the community recreational activity offered on the adjacent property… “ Id. “The parking lot was being used in a manner directly corresponding to the expressed intent of the legislature in KRS 411.190(2). Other jurisdictions have extended immunity under recreational use statutes to adjacent property where the activity on the adjacent property was “inextricably connected” to the recreational activity.” (cites omitted). Id.
The Court held that Plaintiff’s actions of walking in the parking lot provided for the fireworks display presented such a circumstance. And, accordingly, the slip and fall case was dismissed.
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