Sledding is many a kid’s favorite winter past time. Racing down a snowy hill can be exhilarating. Parents love it too, and are often excited to try out their children’s sled or buy one of their own. Still, sledding comes with inherent risks. Snow can cover up dangerous rocks and other sharp or hard objects. Also, even the most experienced sledders may have trouble breaking or avoiding trees and other sledders. Because of these dangers, an estimated 20,000 children are brought to the emergency room each year because of sledding accidents. Many of these accidents involve bone fractures and head injuries.
Eleven-year-old Chance Nash was killed in 2009 when his sled collided with a fallen log. He suffered blunt injuries to his abdomen, which led to massive internal bleeding. He was rushed to the hospital where he later died of his injuries. Nash and his family had been sledding at the Duncan Memorial Park in Grand Haven, Michigan. According to the boy’s family, the log never should have been there. The family believes it was the park’s responsibility to remove fallen trees and logs from the premises.
The Nash family filed a lawsuit in January of 2011, just over a year after their son’s death. The lawsuit named the park commission and its trustees as defendants. According to the lawsuit, the park was required by law to remove dead trees and logs from the park, and failing to do so was negligent. The park commission and trustees have fired back, arguing the park is not permitted to remove any trees or logs, other than those that block roadways, because of the original grant on the land. Martha Duncan donated the property to the people of Grand Haven back in 1913, with the request that the land be kept in its natural state. This, of course, raises a question about what “natural state” means, and whether grantor intent would have permitted the trustees to fail to maintain the property as any other property owner would be expected to.
The circuit court judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2012. The Nash family appealed their case to the appeals court, who found in their favor and ruled that the case should proceed to trial. The park commission and trustees then appealed the case to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court, the state’s highest court, affirmed the appeal’s courts decision and ruled that the case should go to trial. The court’s decision was unanimous.
Have you or a loved one been injured in a snow or ice related injury? If so, we have the legal expertise and experience to get you the money you deserve. Please call 617-787-3700 now for your free and confidential consultation with one of our dedicated Boston snow and ice personal injury lawyers.