Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia premises liability case. The case stemmed from a tragic accident in which a woman and her sister attended a concert hosted by Mercer University at a city park. According to the court’s opinion, to enter the park, the women chose a stairway with a handrail. When they decided to leave the concert, they used the same set of stairs, but they had to go further down to get to their car. There was no handrail on this part of the stairs, and there was no other available stairway with handrails.
As the women were walking down the stairs, the plaintiff’s sister turned around to check on the plaintiff. When she turned around, she saw the plaintiff lose her balance, fall, and hit her head on the stairs. Sadly, the impact caused intense bleeding, which resulted in the plaintiff ending up in a coma. The woman was eventually taken off of life support and succumbed to her injuries.
The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the University based on the theories of negligence and premises liability. The University moved for summary judgment alleging that they were immune under the Recreational Property Act (RPA) and that the family did not establish that the University knew about the hazard. The trial court denied the University’s motion regarding its immunity claim. The University appealed the finding and argued that the RPA should bar the plaintiff’s claims.