Judgment in Favor of County Fair Association Affirmed after Plaintiff Injured During Free Fireworks Display

The North Dakota Supreme Court recently released an opinion that affirmed a lower court’s granting of summary judgment to the defendant, a county fair association, in a case that was filed by a woman who was injured during a fireworks display that was put on at the county fair. The court found that the defendant was protected from liability by what is known as “recreational land use immunity,” which is contained in the North Dakota state code. Based on the appellate ruling, the plaintiff will be unable to collect compensation for the injuries that she suffered due to the alleged negligence of the county fair association.

fair-540126_960_720Plaintiff Is Allegedly Injured by Improperly Maintained Grandstand Equipment

The plaintiff in the case of Woody v. Pembina County Annual Fair and Exhibition Association was a woman who attended the county fair to watch a fireworks exhibition. According to the facts expressed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff stepped on a rotten board while looking for a seat in the grandstand and fell to the ground, suffering serious injuries.

After the case was filed, the defendant moved for judgment in their favor, arguing that as a non-profit entity that was offering the fair and fireworks exhibition free of charge, they were not liable for negligence under the recreational use immunity statute. The plaintiff disagreed, claiming that the defendant was operating the event for commercial purposes, and their non-profit status was not relevant to the determination of immunity.

The plaintiff claimed that while she was not asked to pay for anything to attend the fair or fireworks exhibition, the presence of vendors at the fair made the fireworks display a commercial endeavor. Both the lower court and the state supreme court rejected this argument, holding that for an event to be deemed commercial, there must be “a direct activity for which there is a charge for goods or services.” Since the plaintiff was not required to pay for the fair or event, the defendant could not be held liable for their alleged negligence.

Florida’s Recreational Use Statute

A victim of negligence in the Miami area who is considering filing a South Florida premises liability lawsuit may be subject to a similar recreational use immunity statute to that which barred the plaintiff’s relief in the recent North Dakota case. Title 28, Chapter 375.251 of the Florida code sets out a recreational use immunity for parks and land that is provided to the public for recreational purposes. There are limitations to this immunity, however. If there is a charge to enter the area, or if there is commercial or other profit-gaining activity involved, the immunity may be waived, and the landowner could be held accountable for negligence.

Importantly, Florida courts may not agree with the North Dakota Supreme Court’s analysis that vendors and other for-profit activity on the premises does not make an event a commercial activity. Any South Florida injury victim should consult with a Miami personal injury attorney about their case to determine if the recreational use statute could prevent recovery.

Have You Been Injured?

If you or a loved one has been injured while attending a public event, the South Florida premises liability attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank can help you seek the compensation that you deserve. Our dedicated and experienced Miami injury lawyers can help prepare your case, and we can make strong and persuasive arguments on your behalf. At Friedman, Rodman & Frank, we represent clients in Miami and throughout South Florida in most personal injury and wrongful death cases, including premises liability and negligence claims. If you or a loved one have been injured, contact us toll-free at 877-448-8585 or via our online contact form. Se habla Español / Nou Parlé Creole.

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