09222017Headline:

Fort Collins, Colorado

HomeColoradoFort Collins

Email T. Thomas Metier
T. Thomas Metier
T. Thomas Metier
Attorney • (866) 377-3800

Does a School Retain Governmental Immunity Under CGIA for a Personal Injury?

Comments Off

The Supreme Court of Colorado again looked at the case of Alexa Rae Loveland in St. Vrain Valley Sch. Dist. v. Loveland, 27 CO 54 (May 22, 2017).

In 2008, nine year old girl fell while using the zip line on her school playground and fractured her wrist and right forearm.  There was also a sign that warned “Adult Supervision Required.” Her parents filed a tort action against the St. Vrain Valley School District (“the District”). The District moved to dismiss the action, arguing the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because public school districts are immune from tort liability under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (“CGIA”). The trial court agreed with the District. It found that the zip line was not a public facility, and that the recreation-area waiver did not apply. The court granted the District’s motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs filed an appeal. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling and held that the zip line was a public facility. The Supreme Court of Colorado reviewed the case and remanded it to the trial court for additional fact-finding on the remaining requirements of the recreation-area waiver, including whether there was a dangerous condition. The trial court again moved to dismiss. Plaintiffs appealed. The Court of Appeals again reversed. The District asked the Supreme Court to interpret the statute.

The CGIA says a public entity will be immune from any tort action for injury, except as specifically provided elsewhere in the Act. Plaintiffs wanted a recreation-area waiver to the school’s CGIA immunity to invoke the recreation-area waiver, which eliminates governmental immunity for injuries resulting from a “dangerous condition of any . . . public facility located in any park or recreation area.

The Court held that a non-negligently constructed and maintained piece of playground equipment cannot be a “dangerous condition” under the CGIA’s recreation-area waiver. Because Plaintiffs did not satisfy the dangerous-condition requirement, the recreation-area waiver does not apply, and the District’s immunity under the CGIA remains intact. The Court reversed the court of appeals, and remanded to that court to reinstate the trial court’s order dismissing the complaint in this case.

The Metier Law Firm is committed to assisting people with personal injury claims throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, and we frequently serve as co-counsel to law firms nationwide. Tom Metier recently secured the largest personal injury verdict in Colorado.