Michelle Wilkins was approaching a public school in Haverhill in February of 2011 to attend her child’s parent-teacher conference. As she was making her way to the school she slipped and severely injured herself on ice that had accumulated on a walkway of the school. After treating for her injuries and seeking medical intervention, she brought suit against the city of Haverhill alleging negligence in the city’s failure to properly maintain the walkways to be free of ice and accumulating snow. She argued that this accumulation constituted a defect in the property. Additionally, as a result of the alleged negligence by the city of Haverhill for allowing such a defect to exist on its property, she was caused to sustain numerous injuries. The city of Haverhill responded to the allegations by seeking to dismiss the case. In a somewhat surprising defense, the city of Haverhill cited M.G.L. c. 21, § 17C, the Recreational Use Statute.
As previously mentioned on this site, under the Recreational Use Statute in Massachusetts, a city or private party who permits the public to use his or her land for recreational purposes without fee, will be relieved of liability for injuries allegedly sustained as a result of defects in the property. The trial court judge allowed the City’s motion to dismiss the case, and the injured Plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the city argued that the Plaintiff’s claim should be barred under the statute because she is a member of the public and her attendance at the parent-teacher meeting qualified as an educational purpose within the meaning of the statute. Continue reading →