A 12-year-old severely injured by a 75-foot tree that fell on his tent while he was camping sued PG&E, which owned and maintained a power line in the San Mateo County Memorial Park. The trial court denied the company’s motion for summary judgment under the state’s recreational use immunity statute, codified by California Civil Code section 846. Section 846 grants property owners immunity from tort liability stemming from the use of their property for recreational purposes. The First District Court of Appeal held the company was not immune from suit because the camper paid a fee to San Mateo County.
The tree was located approximately 30 to 40 feet from PG&E’s power line, within striking distance of the line had it fallen in that direction. PG&E owned and maintained a power line in the county park, and it had a license allowing it to enter the park for the maintenance and inspection of its equipment. The boy’s family paid a fee to enter the park but did not pay PG&E. However, San Mateo County paid PG&E regularly for electricity.