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Camicia v. Howard S. Wright Constr. Co.

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

January 30, 2014

Susan Camicia, Respondent,
v.
Howard S. Wright Construction Company, Defendant, The City of Mercer Island, Petitioner

Argued November 15, 2011.

Appeal from King County Superior Court. 07-2-29545-3. Honorable Laura C. Inveen.

Andrew G. Cooley and Adam Rosenberg (of Keating Bucklin & McCormack Inc. PS ), for petitioner.

John Budlong (of Law Offices of John Budlong ); and Howard M. Goodfriend and Catherine Wright Smith (of Smith Goodfriend PS ), for respondent.

Peter S. Holmes and Rebecca Boatright on behalf of City of Seattle, amicus curiae.

Milton G. Rowland and Daniel B. Heid on behalf of Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys, amicus curiae.

Bryan P. Harnetiaux and George M. Ahrend on behalf of Washington State Association for Justice Foundation, amicus curiae.

AUTHOR: Justice Debra L. Stephens. WE CONCUR: Justice Charles W. Johnson, Justice Susan Owens, Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, Justice Charles K. Wiggins. AUTHOR: Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen. WE CONCUR: Justice James M. Johnson Gerry L. Alexander, Justice Pro Tem.

OPINION

Page 988

Stephens, J.

[179 Wn.2d 687] ¶ 1 This case asks us to consider the scope of Washington's recreational use immunity statute, former RCW 4.24.210 (2003). [1] Susan Camicia sustained severe injuries when she was thrown from her bicycle after colliding with a wooden post on a portion of the Interstate I-90 (I-90) bicycle trail located in the city of Mercer Island (City). In response to Camicia's negligence action against it, the City moved for summary judgment under RCW 4.24.210(1), which provides immunity from liability for unintentional injuries to landowners who " allow members of the public to use [the land] for the purposes of outdoor recreation ... without charging a fee of any kind therefor[e]."

¶ 2 The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment, holding recreational use immunity could not be determined as a matter of law because there were disputed issues of fact as to whether the trail served a recreational purpose as opposed to a transportation purpose. We agree and affirm the Court of Appeals.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 3 On review of summary judgment, the facts are viewed in the light most favorable to Camicia, the nonmoving [179 Wn.2d 688] party. CR 56(c); Jones v. Allstate Ins. Co., 146 Wn.2d 291, 300, 45 P.3d 1068 (2002).

A. The I-90 Bicycle Trail's Origins

¶ 4 The I-90 bicycle trail was built by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) in the mid-to-late 1980s and runs from Seattle to Mercer Island across Lake Washington and to other areas in the Puget Sound. To prevent motor vehicles from entering the asphalt trail, WSDOT installed wooden posts, also called bollards, at some locations where the trail intersects city streets.

¶ 5 In October 2002, WSDOT published an evaluation of whether the trail was a public park or recreation area for purposes of federal law. Under ...


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