Linda and Kenneth Patterson, members of a senior center in Georgia, took part in a sight seeing tour organized by the center that included stops along the east coast. One of these stops included a visit to the Old North Church in Boston’s North End. The church is said to be the location of the famous, “one if by land, and two if by sea” phrase associated with Paul Revere’s midnight ride prior to the Battles of Lexington and Concord during the American Revolution. As Mrs. Patterson made her way through the historic church, she was directed to sit in the church’s pew boxes. At the entryway to each pew box was a hinged door and single step riser that was painted a very similar color to the existing carpet on the floor. As Mrs. Patterson went to enter the pew, she did not see the riser and fell onto the bench. As a result, she sustained serious and severe personal injuries that required hospitalization and surgery.
Mrs. Patterson brought suit alleging negligence against the Defendant foundation that was responsible for organizing tours in the church. Among the allegations, the Plaintiff claimed that she and her husband were not warned to use caution or to watch their step when entering the pew box and that the sanctuary was poorly lit. Additionally, the Plaintiff claimed violation of the Consumer Protection Statute, Ch. 93a, which declares unlawful unfair or deceptive acts in the conduct of any trade or commerce. Specifically, the Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant was liable under this statute because when she injured herself in the pew box, the church was not in compliance with Architectural Access Board accessibility requirements.
The Defendant, a nonprofit organization that organizes tours and historical programs at the church, argued that it was not liable under the recreational use statute in Massachusetts. Under Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 21, s. 17C: Continue reading →