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St. Vrain Valley School District RE-1J v. A.R.L.

Supreme Court of Colorado

May 19, 2014

St. Vrain Valley School District RE-1J and Cathy O'Donnell, Petitioners:
v.
A.R.L. a minor, by and through her parents and next friends, Randy Loveland and Mary Nicole Loveland; Randy Loveland, individually; and Mary Nicole Loveland, individually, Respondents:

Page 1015

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1016

Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals Court of Appeals. Case No. 11CA1019.

SYLLABUS

In this tort case, the supreme court interprets the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act's " recreation area waiver," section 24-10-106(1)(e), C.R.S. (2013). It holds that a collection of public school playground equipment, considered in its entirety, qualifies as a " public facility" under the recreation area waiver. Accordingly, the court of appeals erred when it held that an individual piece of playground equipment, in and of itself, qualified as a " public facility." The supreme court thus affirm the court of appeals' holding, albeit for different reasons.

Applying the three-step analysis from Daniel v. City of Colorado Springs, 2014 CO 34, ¶ 23, the supreme court also holds that the public facility (i.e., the playground equipment) is " located in" the " recreation area" of the playground. It remands to the trial court for further fact finding with regard to the remaining requirements of the recreation area waiver.

Attorneys for Petitioners: Senter Goldfarb & Rice, L.L.C., Gillian M. Fahlsing, Thomas S. Rice, Denver, Colorado.

Attorneys for Respondents: Purvis Gray, LLP, Michael J. Thomson, Boulder, Colorado.

CHIEF JUSTICE RICE delivered the Opinion of the Court. JUSTICE COATS dissents, and JUSTICE EID joins in the dissent.

OPINION

Page 1017

RICE, CHIEF JUSTICE.

[¶1] We granted certiorari[1] to consider an issue of first impression: whether an injury that occurs on a " zip line" apparatus located on a public school playground fulfills the requirements of the " recreation area waiver," section 24-10-106(1)(e), C.R.S. (2013), of the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (" CGIA" ). The recreation area waiver deprives public entities of immunity from tort liability if an injury results from a " dangerous condition of any . . . public facility located in any park or recreation area." § 24-10-106(1)(e). We hold that a collection of playground equipment considered as a whole qualifies as a " public facility" under the recreation area waiver because such playground equipment is (1) relatively permanent or otherwise affixed to the land, (2) a man-made structure, (3) accessible to the public, and (4) maintained by a public entity to serve a beneficial, common public purpose. The court of appeals thus erred when it held that the zip line individually, rather than the playground collectively, constituted a " public facility."

[¶2] We also hold that the public facility here, i.e., the collection of playground equipment, was " located in" the " recreation area" of the school playground. Applying the three-step analysis from Daniel v. City of Colorado Springs,2014 CO 34, ¶ 23, we determine that the public land underlying the playground equipment is the " putative recreation area," that the " primary purpose" of that area is recreation, and that the facility ...


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