City of Corpus Christy v Ferguson, 13-12-00679-CV (Tex. App. – Corpus Christy, February 6, 2014)
This is an interlocutory appeal from the denial of a plea to the jurisdiction in a premise liability case under the Texas Recreational Use statute.
Ferguson traveled from her home in San Antonio to Corpus Christi, where she planned to participate with her family in the Harbor Lights Festival boat parade at the City’s marina. The morning of the event, but before it started, Furguson went to the shower facilities but slipped on ice along the way. The City produced evidence that the water lines which allegedly leaked and caused the ice had been drained and turned off the night before, it posted warning signs noting the lines were drained to prevent ice, and that Ferguson’s entry card did not show she was in the area at the time of the alleged fall. After a hearing the trial court denied the plea and the City appealed.
While Ferguson asserts she was not engaged in a recreational use, but was merely returning from a shower in the morning, the Corpus Christy Court of Appeals determined the activity at the marina fell within the Recreational Use statute since she camped overnight on a sailboat docket at the marina. In other words, “camping overnight on the boat was merely one stage of the broader boating activity…” However, the court then noted that Ferguson was able to present sufficient facts to create a dispute regarding the City’s actual knowledge of the ice. Essentially a separate witness informed the City early in the morning that he noticed ice and that Ferguson and her father testified no warning sign was present. A reader of the opinion should take the time to read the footnotes, which surgically cut out various distinguishing factors to make this holding more limited than it initially sounds. The plea was properly denied.
If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Chief Justice Valdez, Justices Rodriguez and Garza. Opinion by Justice Rodriguez. The attorney’s listed for the City are Lilia Castro and Mark DeKoch. The attorney listed for Furguson is Russel Jackson.