♪This land is your land, it’s not my land, I’m not a landowner, so you can’t sue me… Plaintiff tripped and fell on common area sidewalk outside a medical campus. She sued the main tenant. Under the Premises Liability Act (PLA), only “landowners” could be liable for injuries on their land. There are two kinds of landowners: those in possession of the land, and those who are legally responsible for conditions on the land. This case addressed the second category and limited its scope. Here, under its lease, the defendant could not exclude anyone from occupying the land, was not responsible for maintenance or the condition of the sidewalk, and was not conducting any activities on the sidewalk; it also did not assume a duty to repair the sidewalk or create the condition that caused the injuries. Under these facts, the Court held the commercial tenant was not a landowner.
Tag Archives: CRS 13-21-115
S.W., a minor by and through, David Wacker; and Rhonda Wacker v. Towers Boat Club, Inc., 2013CO72 (Dec 23, 2013)
“It’s innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn’t.” Mignon McLaughlin. A child “licensee” (invited guest) was severely injured while playing on a bungee run. The opinion addresses the interplay between Colorado’s premises liability statute CRS 13-21-115, the common law doctrine of attractive nuisance, and whether the common law applies to all types of child entrants on land or, as the court of appeals held, only to trespassers. The Court concluded the doctrine applied to all children because the common law (incorporated into the statute) did not make a distinction. If the object attracted the child and caused injury, the doctrine applies. The dissents’ perspective differed. Justice Eid argued the child should be treated as a licensee. In Justice Marquez’s view, the object’s attraction causes a child to trespass, and thus the doctrine only applies to trespassers.
Below is a reproduction of the Court’s Advance Sheet Headnote. A full CLR summary and post will follow.
No. 12SC391, S.W. ex rel. Wacker v. Towers Boat Club, Inc. – Attractive Nuisance – Section 13-21-115, C.R.S. (2013).
In this attractive nuisance case, the Colorado Supreme Court considers whether, under Colorado’s premises liability statute, section 13-21-115, C.R.S. (2013), the attractive nuisance doctrine applies only to trespassing children but not to licensees or invitees. The Supreme Court holds that the doctrine permits all children, regardless of their classification, to bring a claim for attractive nuisance. The Supreme Court therefore reverses the judgment of the court of appeals because it erroneously held that the attractive nuisance doctrine only protects trespassing children.
A link to the Supreme Court’s decision is HERE.
“Thousands of possibilities [to sue]. Get yours.” – Best Buy tagline. Plaintiff was on Best Buy’s property to purchase a refrigerator and was injured. Plaintiff sued under the Premises Liability Act (PLA) and ended up in federal court. The district court dismissed, finding the PLA only applies to activities “directly and inherently” related to the land. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit certified a question to the Court asking if that was correct. Answer: no. The PLA is more broad than “directly and inherently,” but not so broad that it applies to any tort on another’s property. Interpreting Pierson v. Black Canyon, the Court held that the PLA applies to “conditions, activities, and circumstances on the property” that the landowner is liable for as a landowner. Thus, the fact-specific inquiry must include whether the injury was caused by the landowner’s actions as the landowner.
“Step on a crack, break your back.” And then sue. Here, plaintiff tripped on a crack in a sidewalk in front of a medical clinic leasing the building it occupied. She sued under the Premises Liability Act, CRS 13-21-115. The clinic argued it was not a “landowner,” and thus not liable. The court of appeals’ majority agreed. The clinic was not a landowner because it did not have a “sufficient” interest in the sidewalk. The clinic did not occupy the sidewalk – just the building; it did not control the sidewalk, though it had some maintenance responsibilities under its lease; and it did not conduct an activity on the sidewalk – its activities occurred in the adjacent building. The dissent would have held that the clinic had sufficient control over the only entrance to its offices because patients would park in spaces exclusively for patients, who must then use the sidewalk to access the clinic.
Wile E. Coyote never got the Road Runner to smack into his wall painted like a road. Here, City hired Vista to construct medians in the middle of a road. The medians were completed by Vista and accepted by the City. For a while, the double yellow stripes led straight into the median, where plaintiff crashed her car. She sued Vista under both the PLA and common law negligence. After rejecting the application of the PLA because Vista was not a “landowner,” the court of appeals adopted new construction liability standards. It rejected the “completed and accepted” doctrine under which construction companies owed no duties to third parties after completing work. The court adopted a “foreseeability rule” making companies potentially liable even after work is completed, if it would be unreasonable to expect another party to mitigate a danger. The case was remanded to apply the new standard.
A cyclist is attacked on federal land during a sponsored race by two “predator control dogs” whose owners had a permit to graze sheep in the area. The trial court granted summary judgment for the owners, finding that the Premises Liability Act (PLA) abrogated the cyclist’s common law tort claims, and a claim under the “dog bite statute” was excluded by the “predator control dogs” exception. The court of appeals disagreed in part. First, because the owners were grazing sheep pursuant to a Forest Service permit, they were “landowners” under the PLA, which abrogated common law tort claims. But, the owners were not in “control of” the land, so the predator control dog exception did not apply. The statutes did not conflict because the remedies under each are different. Finally, the court agreed that a settlement offer from the owners was successfully withdrawn and thus not enforceable.
Certiorari was granted in this case on “Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that the working dog exemption to section 13-21-124, C.R.S. (2012), applies only when a bite occurs on a dog owner’s property or property under his or her control, and that “control” of property exists only if one has the right to exclude others from it.”
Children are fearless and sometimes get injured when playing on someone else’s property. Typically, there are three kinds of people injured on property: an invitee, a licensee, and a trespasser. An invitee is basically a store customer for whom a landlord owes a higher level of protection; a licensee is a social guest at a house and is entitled to moderate protection; and a trespasser is on property without consent and is owed only minimal protection. However, as the court of appeals held in this case, an otherwise trespassing child who enters property because of an attractive nuisance is “invited” by the nuisance, and owed the protection of an invitee. But the attractive nuisance doctrine only applies to trespassing children. So a child “licensee” cannot rely on the doctrine. The court found the scheme constitutional because it is rational to give children higher protection.