Southern California Mother and Child Allowed to Pursue City of Pasadena in Premises Liability Claim

Any injury case will have its challenges that can get in the way of your success. This can be especially true if the defendant in your case is a public entity. However, with a strong enough case, you can still go after public entities in some situations. In one recent case from Southern California, a mother and her son were allowed to continue their pursuit of their premises liability case against a city after an errant golf ball from an adjoining golf course struck the boy as he rode along a pedestrian walkway.

The injury was one that took place within a golf course owned by the City of Pasadena and leased by a private entity. A pedestrian walkway was situated near the golf course. On one day in 2011, a boy was struck in the head by an errant golf ball while his mother pushed him in a stroller along the walkway. The golf ball impact resulted in the boy’s suffering a subdural hematoma and other related harm, while the mother suffered “emotional distress and the consequences of caring for” the boy.

Based upon these harms, the mother and son sued both the city and the entity that leased the course. The trial court concluded that the plaintiffs could not proceed against the city because of a statutory form of immunity called “trail immunity.” The walkway qualified as a trail, and the injury was caused by a condition of the trail, the court ruled.

The plaintiffs appealed, and, in this case, they won. The appeals court concluded that trail immunity did not apply in this circumstance. The statute, Government Code Section 831.4, says that no public entity can be liable for an injury occurring along an “unpaved road which provides access to fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, riding, including animal and all types of vehicular riding, water sports, recreational or scenic areas.” The statute, the appeals court explained in its recent opinion, “provides immunity for injuries caused by dangerous conditions of trails, but it does not provide immunity for injuries caused by dangerous conditions of adjacent public properties.”

In a scenario like this, the dangerous condition was not something that was a condition of the trail. The danger in this case was something posed by the third parties, specifically, golfers with errant aim. This type of danger was something that was a result of a human creation, as opposed to previous cases that granted the public entities immunity when the danger at issue was a naturally occurring one created by things like a downward-sloping hill and “topography and gravity.”

The court also decided that the plaintiffs must be allowed to go forward because reaching any other result would generate an outcome that was either counterproductive or absurd. A ruling that immunity protected the city from suit in this case would create a disincentive on the part of the city to correct the dangers to users of the walkway, the court stated. Furthermore, ruling against the plaintiffs “would have the absurd consequence of requiring City to protect people using” the entirety of a larger pathway (that included the pedestrian walkway) except for the smaller pedestrian walkway itself that was contained within the pathway.

For advice and representation upon which you can truly rely, contact the experienced Oakland injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch. Our team is dedicated to helping injured people along every step in the process as they pursue the recovery they need to provide for themselves and their families. For more information regarding how this office can help you, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-2575 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

California Appeals Court Revives Injured Driver’s Case Against Tow Truck Company, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Feb. 15, 2017

Immunity Statute Blocks Southern California Man’s Lawsuit Against County Over Dangerous Intersection, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, March 15, 2016

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