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Recreational Use Statute

By | General | No Comments

In Wilson v. Dossett, 2013 Tenn.App. Lexis 389 (Tenn.Ct.App. June 13, 2013), the court addressed the applicability of TCA 70-7-102 to a case where the plaintiff suffered severe injuries in an accident while operating a motorcycle on a trail located on the defendant’s property.  The reviewing court held that TCA 70-7-102 protected the defendant from liability because the plaintiff was engaged in recreational activities on the defendant’s property.

TCA 70-7-102 provides:

(a) The landowner, lessee, occupant, or any person in control of land or premises owes no duty of care to keep such land or premises safe for entry or use by others for such recreational activities as hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, water sports, white water rafting, canoeing, hiking, sightseeing, animal riding, bird watching, dog training, boating, caving, fruit and vegetable picking for the participant’s own use, nature and historical studies and research, rock climbing, skeet and trap shooting, skiing, off-road vehicle riding, and cutting or removing wood for the participant’s own use, nor shall such landowner be required to give any warning of hazardous conditions, uses of, structures, or activities on such land or premises to any person entering on such land or premises for such purposes, except as provided in § 70-7-104.

In Wilson, the plaintiff unsuccessfully argued that the statute did not apply where the landowner created or maintained the propertywhich in this instance, consisted of launch ramps on the premises used by riders to jump their motorcycles.  The plaintiff’s injuries occurred while jumping a series of ramps, possibly constructed or built by the defendant.

The Plaintiff also argued that the statute only applied to the State of Tennessee.  The Court rejected said argument.

The Court held that the activity of riding a motorcycle “constituted recreational activity under the statute.”

The Court concluded as follows:

The facts of this case are troubling in that a young man received a severe injury while engaged in a recreational activity. However, our General Assembly made the policy decision with respect to liability, as it has the authority to do, by enacting Tenn. Code Ann. § 70-7-101 et seq. to provide a defense for landowners in circumstances such as  these. Wilson availed himself of Dossett’s property for the recreational purpose of riding a motorcycle. This activity falls squarely within the parameters of the statute’s protection for landowners. Additionally, there was no gross negligence in this case that would serve to negate the affirmative defense available to Dossett. When viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Wilson, we conclude, as did the Trial Court, that summary judgment is appropriate in this case. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Aggravation of Preexisting Condition

By | Tennessee Workers' Compensation | No Comments

The case of Buttrey v. Altria Group Inc., (Tenn. W.C. Panel 4/24/2012), is a good example of an important rule of law in Tennessee Workers’ Compensation cases.  In Buttrey, the employee injured her neck while working in 2001. She treated conservatively and didn’t miss any work.  In 2005, she again experienced neck pain with radiculopathy, but didn’t miss any work.  In April of 2009, the employee was performing lifting activities at work and began to experience excruciating neck pain.  An MRI revealed degenerative changes in the neck and a surgery was performed in August of 2009.  The treating doctor testified that the employee had pre-existing degenerative disc disease that was exacerbated by her work activities in April of 2009.  The employer hired a doctor who testified that there was no evidence of a work related injury or exacerbation.  The Court ruled in favor of the employee (plaintiff), noting that lay testimony in conjunction with medical evidence was sufficient to establish the the employee’s work activities advanced the severity of her pre-existing degenerative disc disease in April 2009.

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