California Court Finds College May Be Liable for Injuries Sustained by Visiting Athlete

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Earlier this year, a California appellate court considered a case brought against a public college by a visiting athlete. The court ultimately concluded that the public college was not entitled to immunity and allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff, a student-athlete at a public college in the Los Angeles area, was participating in a volleyball tournament at another public college in California. During the tournament, the plaintiff was injured during a game when she dove into the sand and hit a rock. The athlete filed a lawsuit against the host college, alleging that she was injured by a dangerous condition on the college’s property. The host college claimed that it could not be held liable for the injury because it was protected by immunity.

Governmental Immunity

Governmental immunity prevents people from suing the government in certain situations, by making the government immune from lawsuits. Immunity is often afforded to federal, state, and local governments, as well as government-operated organizations.

In California, public entities are generally liable for dangerous conditions that exist on their property. A plaintiff must show that a dangerous condition existed on the property at the time of the injury, the injury was proximately caused by the condition, and the injury was within the reasonably foreseeable risks created by the condition. A plaintiff also must show that an employee, acting within the scope of his employment, negligently created the dangerous condition, or that the entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition for a sufficient time and failed to take measures to protect against it.

The Field-Trip Exception

In this case, the host college claimed that it was protected by immunity because the facts of the case fell under the field trips and excursions immunity. Although normally public colleges in California are liable for dangerous conditions on their property, community colleges in California are generally protected for injuries that occur “during or by reason of [a] field trip or excursion.”  The host college claimed it was not liable for the athlete’s injuries in this case because the athlete was participating in a field trip or excursion.

The appeals court, however, rejected the host college’s argument. The court explained that the host college was not conducting the field trip of the visiting college, but instead was hosting the facility for the tournament. The court reasoned that the host college had a duty to provide a reasonably safe location not only to its own students, but to all the participants in the tournament. Thus, the court decided that a host college could be held liable for injuries suffered by a member of a visiting team during an intercollegiate athletic event.

Have You Been Injured on Public Property?

If you or a loved one has been injured on public property and are considering filing a claim, you may have to consider whether the public entity is protected by immunity. At the Neumann Law Group, we represent injured individuals in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, and provide trustworthy, experienced legal representation to California personal injury victims. Contact us to set up a free consultation at 800-525-NEUMANN or through our online form.

See Related Posts:

California Plaintiffs Sue Breast Implant Manufacturers, California Injury Lawyer Blog, October 24, 2018.

California Appellate Court Discusses the Sudden Emergency Doctrine in Recent Road Rage Case, California Injury Lawyer Blog, November 29, 2018.

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