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Widman v. Johnson

filed: March 29, 1996.

RONALD K. WIDMAN, A SINGLE MAN, RESPONDENT/CROSS-APPELLANT,
v.
PAIGE J. JOHNSON, A SINGLE WOMAN, APPELLANT, V. HANSON NATURAL RESOURCES COMPANY, A DELAWARE GENERAL PARTNERSHIP, RESPONDENT.



Superior Court of Wahkiakum County. Superior Court Docket No. 92-2-00067-8. Date Filed In Superior Court: March 23, 1994. Superior Court Judge Signing: Joel Penoyar.

Morgan, J., Houghton, A.c.j., Turner, J., concur

Author: Morgan

MORGAN, J. -- Ronald Widman claimed against Paige J. Johnson and Hanson Natural Resources Company (Hanson) for personal injuries sustained in an auto accident. Johnson cross-claimed against Hanson. When the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Hanson, Johnson filed this appeal and Widman cross-appealed. Taking the facts in the light most favorable to the appellants,*fn1 we affirm.

Hanson is a forest products company with more than 100,000 acres of land in southwestern Washington. To access its land, it maintains more than 1,000 miles of logging roads.

One of Hanson's logging roads is called the Elochoman Main Line Road (the Main Line). At the locations pertinent here, the Main Line runs east and west. It intersects twice with State Route 407,*fn2 one intersection being a half mile east of the other. Most of the way, it has a gravel surface.

In years past, the Main Line was posted, "No Trespassing."*fn3 At the times material here, however, Hanson left

the Main Line and other roads and lands open so that the

public can use them for recreational purposes. Members of the general public do use Hanson lands extensively. These activities include fishing; hunting of deer, elk and grouse; picking of wild blackberries and huckleberries; and bird watching of eagles, redtail hawks and owls.*fn4

Thus, "on virtually all entrances to its logging roads,"*fn5 Hanson posted signs saying, "Private Property," and "The Forest Land Behind This Sign Is Open For RECREATIONAL USE ONLY.*fn6

We assume, as Johnson contends, that the Main Line is not just used for recreation. Between its two intersections with SR 407, it runs more or less in a straight line. In that same distance, SR 407 arcs. Thus, drivers can use the Main Line as a shortcut between the two intersections.

Before the accident, Hanson had posted stop signs at the Main Line's intersections with SR 407. When in place, these signs commanded drivers on the Main Line to stop before entering SR 407. The sign at the easterly intersection had been removed by vandals six times in the six months preceding the accident. Hanson had replaced it three or four days before the accident, but even so it was not in place when the accident occurred.

On October 7, 1991, Johnson, Widman, Trent Reed and Todd Ross went fishing along the Elochoman River. Johnson was driving a pickup in which the others were passengers. On the way back, she was following two other vehicles on SR 407. As she approached that highway's westerly intersection with the Main Line, Reed asked her to turn left and drive east on the Main Line. Reed says he made this ...


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