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Woods v. H.O. Sports Co., Inc.

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2

August 19, 2014

Torre J. Woods, Petitioner ,
v.
H.O. Sports Company, Inc., et al., Respondents

Appeal from Pierce County Superior Court. Docket No: 12-2-08809-3. Judge signing: Honorable John Russell Hickman. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: 12/21/2012.

Michael E. Woods, pro se.

Philip A. Talmadge (of Talmadge / Fitzpatrick ); and John R. Connelly Jr. and Nathan P. Roberts (of Connelly Law Offices ), for petitioner.

Thomas R. Merrick, David S. Cottnair, and Nicholas G. Thomas (of Merrick Hofstedt & Lindsey PS ), for respondent H.O. Sports Company, Inc.

Authored by Rich Melnick. Concurring: Bradley A. Maxa, J. Robin Hunt.

OPINION

Page 456

Melnick, J.

[183 Wn.App. 147] ¶ 1 Torre Woods appeals from the trial court's grant of summary judgment dismissal based on the parental immunity doctrine of his claims against his father, Michael Woods. Michael,[1] driving his motor boat, pulled Torre and his friends on an inflatable tube. Ejected from the tube, Torre suffered a serious injury. He subsequently filed a negligence claim against Michael and a product liability claim against the tube manufacturer. We granted discretionary review on the issue of whether the parental immunity doctrine should be applied to the facts of this case. We reverse the trial court's grant of summary judgment and remand to the trial court to reinstate Torre's negligence action against Michael.

FACTS

¶ 2 In July 2010, Michael went to a lake with Torre and two of Torre's friends. Michael drove a 240-horsepower jet [183 Wn.App. 148] boat at approximately 30 mph and towed Torre and his friends on an inflatable tube designed and manufactured by H.O. Sports Company, Inc. The tube crossed a wake and all three boys were ejected. One of Torre's friends landed on him. The impact broke Torre's neck and rendered him a quadriplegic.

¶ 3 The tube is a large inflatable device that seats four people. H.O. Sports' recommended maximum speed when pulling the tube is 15 mph for children and 20 mph for adults. Although Michael and Torre had engaged in this activity many times and Michael declared that he " was always careful to operate the boat at a speed that Torre was comfortable with," Michael also stated that he probably could have prevented the accident by traveling at a slower speed. Clerk's Papers at 29.

¶ 4 Torre filed a complaint against Michael for negligence and against H.O. Sports for product liability. Michael filed a motion for summary judgment and argued that the parental immunity doctrine required his dismissal. The trial court granted Michael's motion, ruling that he had parental immunity. A commissioner of this court granted discretionary review of the summary judgment order solely on the issue of the applicability of the parental immunity doctrine to this case.[2] We hold the parental immunity doctrine is inapplicable to this case and reverse the trial court's order granting summary judgment and dismissing Torre's claims against Michael.

ANALYSIS

I. Standard of Review


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