Sara L. Burnett v. State of Colorado, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, 2013COA42 (March 28, 2013)

If a tree falls in the forest, will a court hear a claim in court? In this case, no. A tree branch falls on a camper; the tree was next to the official campsite. Here, the issue was whether the tree was a “public facility” and part of the campground. The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act grants immunity for injuries caused by natural conditions not on a public facility. The trial court, and the court of appeals held that a tree is not a public facility because it is not integral to the use and enjoyment of the campground “merely because they provide shade, protection, and aesthetic values…” Also, the tree, next to the campsite, was still in an “unimproved” area and was a natural condition; so, the state had no duty to maintain the tree. The dissent would have found the tree incorporated into the facility, and a dangerous condition for which the state was responsible. The state was immune.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Court_Of_Appeals/Opinion/2012/11CA2141-PD.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8883&courtid=1

NOTE: The Colorado Supreme Court granted Certiorari on November 12, 2103.

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4 Comments

Filed under Government, Personal Injury, Torts

4 responses to “Sara L. Burnett v. State of Colorado, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, 2013COA42 (March 28, 2013)

  1. Certiorari was granted in two parallel cases construing sec. 24-10-106(1)(e) , C.R.S. and opening briefs were filed yesterday. Burnett will be filing a petition for certiorari soon. Also, in Daniel v. City of Colorado Springs, 2012 COA 171, the Court of Appeals issued a published opinion finding the city was immune to suit for an injury resulting from a dangerous condition in a public parking facility in a park maintained by a public entity, despite the fact that sectoin 106(1)(e) waives immunity for a dangerous condition of ANY public facility in any park or recreation area maintained by a public entity. Ms. Daniel’s petition for certiorari is pending and she filed an amicus brief in one of the two cases now in the briefing stage. This section of statute sure is getting a ton of attention in the last year.

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  2. Here are the two cases referenced in the comment above:

    No. 12SC543, Erin A. Young, individually and on behalf of and as next friend of C.Y.; and C.Y., a minor, through his parent Erin A Young, v. Brighton School District 27J. Court of Appeals Case No. 11CA1594

    Whether the court of appeals erred when it declined to address whether a walkway adjacent to a public school playground fell within the “public facility” waiver in section 24- 10-106(1)(e) of the Colorado Government Immunity Act and instead concluded that immunity existed under the “public walkway” provision in section 24-10-106(1)(d)(III).

    No. 12SC631, St. Vrain Valley School District RE-1J and Cathy O’Donnell v. Alexa Loveland, a minor, by and through her parents and next friends, Randy Loveland and Mary Nicole Loveland Court of Appeals Case No. 11CA1019.

    Whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that a “zip line” apparatus on a public school playground is a “public facility located in any park or recreation area maintained by a public entity” under section 24-10-106(1)(e), C.R.S. (2012) of the Colorado Government Immunity Act.

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  3. Pingback: Robert Cikraji v. Daniel Snowberger, Superintendent, Durango Public Schools, Andrew Burns, Roxanne Perrin, David McMillian, Paul Angelico, Curt Wilson, 2015COA66 (May 7, 2015) | Colorado Litigation Report ™

  4. Pingback: Sara L. Burnett v. Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, 2015CO19 (March 23, 2015) | Colorado Litigation Report ™

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