I don’t think Courts are crazy about recreational use statutes. These statutes allow cities and towns to build artificial structures or improvements on land, then to escape responsibility (liability) when citizens use the facilities and are injured. What I find interesting (from a lawyer’s standpoint) about this case is that the injury didn’t occur from something another player did during a game, but from a defect in the structure the owner erected. The player was injured, or alleged that he was injured, as a result of the bullpen faulty construction. Here you have high school player from a visiting team, invited by the school district to play a baseball game at a park owned by the Town of Hudson. The court mentions the school district has a duty to its students and to visiting students to provide a safe place to play ball.
The Town of Hudson struck out on this motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court announced they should get prepared to “Play Ball!”
Case Summary by Justia.
Court: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Opinion Date: August 3, 2015
Areas of Law: Injury Law
Plaintiff injured his knee while warming up in the bullpen of a public park in the Town of Hudson before a varsity game between two high school teams. Plaintiff, a ballplayer with the visiting team, brought this action against the Town under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act alleging negligence and wanton and reckless conduct. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the Town, concluding that Plaintiff’s negligence claim was barred by the recreational use statute and that the evidence did not support a finding of wanton or reckless conduct. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding (1) despite the recreational use statute, the Town may be found liable for negligence in providing the pitchers from the visiting team with a bullpen that was not reasonably safe; and (2) Plaintiff complied with the Act’s presentment requirement, and it cannot be determined until trial whether liability is barred by the Act’s discretionary function exemption.