Articles Tagged with Recreational Use

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field-trip-205687-mMichelle 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 →

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pewLinda 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 →