Washington Case Law Update: Recreational Immunity Applies Only if Land is Held Open to Public Solely for Recreational Use
From the desk of Kyle Riley: Washington’s recreational immunity statute protects landowners from liability if they hold out their land to the public for recreational use. What analysis does a court use to determine whether immunity applies? Read on to find out.
Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of a fall on a trail open for public use, the Court of Appeals held that summary judgment was inappropriate where material issues of fact existed as to whether the land was held open to the public solely for recreational use. The case provides clear guidelines for determining whether recreational immunity will apply, an important consideration for landowners (and their insurers) who allow the public to use their lands for recreation.
Lockner v. Pierce County, No. 48659-II, Washington Court of Appeals, Div. II (May 9, 2017)
Margie Lockner (“Lockner”) and her niece were riding their bicycles on the Foothills Trail in Pierce County when they approached a riding lawnmower from the rear. The lawnmower was operated by a Pierce County (the “County”) Parks and Recreation employee, who was mowing grass on the right side of the trail and moving in the same direction as Lockner and her niece. As they passed the lawnmower, Lockner raised her left hand from the handlebars to shield her eyes from debris in the air from the lawnmower. She then clipped her niece’s bike and fell, injuring herself. She sued the County and the employee operating the mower.
The County moved for summary judgment, arguing that Washington’s recreational immunity statute immunized the County from Lockner’s claims. The trial court agreed with the County and dismissed Lockner’s claims. Lockner appealed, arguing that her case should not have been dismissed on summary judgment because issues of material fact existed as to the trail’s use for transportation purposes....