Elephant Rock Beach Club, Inc., the Defendant, operated a a private beach club in Westport, Massachusetts. The area, as well as the beach along the property, was open to members and their paid guests to use the property and facility. Near the shore of the beach adjacent to the Defendant’s property is “Elephant Rock” which is a natural rock formation. Ownership of the rock formation is with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The formation is located beyond the buoys at the end of the safety ropes that the Defendant erected. As such, unless you were to access the rocks by swimming up from a boat- the only access would be by being a member or guest at the Defendant’s organization. It became general knowledge, however, that guests would commonly make use of the rock formation by swimming to it and jumping off the rocks for leisure.
On July 6, 2009, Andrea Paige Carter Cohen, the Plaintiff, went to the club as a guest of a duly authorized member. While she enjoyed the beach, the sun, and the waves, she witnessed many individuals jumping from the rock. As a result, she ventured to the rock and did so as well. After running and taking a dive into the water below from the rocks, she claims that her foot smashed into a portion of the rock below the surface of the water which caused her to sustain a compound fracture of her leg.
The Plaintiff filed a suit alleging negligence based on premises liability and a duty to warn individuals such as the Plaintiff. More specifically, the complaint alleged that the Defendant breached it’s duty of care to maintain the rock as part of its preemies in a reasonably safe condition. The Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that the Plaintiff can provide no proof to support her claims and even to assume that she could, she would be barred by the Massachusetts recreational use statute. Continue reading →