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Volume XXIV, No. 19, November 21, 2012       

 

From the Law Offices of Garan Lucow Miller, P.C.

From the Co-Editors

James L. Borin & Simeon R. Orlowski

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TOBOGGAN ACCIDENT REQUIRES RECKLESSNESS

CONTRIBUTOR – THOMAS G. HERMAN

 

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging negligent steering of a toboggan in Smith v Sattler, Docket No. 305790.  Under what is known as the “Ritchie-Gamester” standard, co-participants in recreational activities cannot sue each other for simple negligence.  Liability can only be imposed for reckless misconduct.

In Smith v Sattler, two 16 year old high school friends occupied the first two positions on a four person toboggan.  Both had previously ridden sleds or saucers down the icy hill.  This was the first-ever toboggan ride for either person.  Smith alleged that Sattler was negligent in failing to steer away from a snow fence and trees along the side of the hill.  The toboggan crashed through the fence and Smith suffered multiple fractures of her left foot.

 

The trial court ruled there was no evidence to support a recklessness claim.  There was no indication that Sattler had intentionally crashed into the fence. The Ritchie-Gamester recklessness standard had previously been applied to accidents involving ice skating (Ritchie-Gamester v City of Berkley, 461 Mich 73 (1999)); soccer scrimmages (Behar v Fox); high school tennis practices (Chryczyk v Johas); and golf (Auito v Clarkston Creek Golf).

The Court of Appeals had previously refused to apply the Ritchie-Gamester recklessness standard to an accident when two ORV’s collided.  The Plaintiff Smith argued that riding on a toboggan was more analogous to riding on an ORV than ice skating.  The trial court and Court of Appeals both rejected that argument.

The Ritchie-Gamester recklessness standard only applies to co-participants in recreational activities.  It does not apply to claims against the property owner or to coaches or supervisors of the activity.  Those claims are still subject to defenses such as governmental immunity or special statutes such as the Ski Area Safety Act.

 

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REGISTER NOW – 2012 WINDY CITY SEMINAR

2012 Windy City Seminar

November 29, 2012

Chicago Marriott Shcaumburg

50 North Martingale Road | Shcaumburg, Illinois 60173

To register contact: Eileen Carty – ecarty@garanlucow.com

 

The Agenda for the Windy City Seminar is as follows:

8:30 – 8:55 A.M. CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST / REGISTRATION

8:55 – 9:00 A.M. WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

Speaker: DAVID A. COUCH

9:00 – 10:00 A.M. ILLINOIS AND INDIANA UPDATES

Speaker: GREGORY M. BOKOTA

10:00 – 10:30 A.M. MICHIGAN LAW UPDATES

Speaker: DAVID A. COUCH

10:30 – 10:45 A.M. BREAK

10:45 – 11:15 A.M. MICHIGAN LAW UPDATES-CONTINUED

Speaker: DAVID A. COUCH

11:15 – 12:30 P.M. DEPOSITION BOOT CAMP

Speaker: JOHN W. WHITMAN

 

12:30 – 1:00 P.M. PANEL DISCUSSION ON DEPOSITION STRATEGIES & TIPS FOR TESTIFYING  EFFECTIVELY

Speaker: JOHN W. WHITMAN

1:00 – 1:15 P.M. QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION

Return Evaluation Forms

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