Personal Injury in Closed City Park

Submitted by personal injury lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

Personal Injury and Summary Judgement

36-2-4472 Soberal v. City of Millville , App. Div. (per curiam) (10 pp.)

Plaintiff filed this personal injury negligence action after he was injured when, while walking in a city park, his leg went into a hole that had been hidden by grass and brush. The city had closed the park to the public four years earlier and had placed a locked, yellow gate at the entrance road to the park and posted signs stating “no vehicles admitted beyond this point” and “no swimming“as well as “no trespassing” signs in “the beach area” of the park. The city’s safety coordinator conducted weekly inspections of the park looking for hazards and advising anyone encountered to leave the park.

The trial judge granted summary judgment to defendants. The panel affirms, finding that no reasonable jury could conclude that defendants’ actions or inactions in protecting against the condition that caused plaintiff’s injury were “palpably unreasonable” and, because plaintiff failed to prove that factor, no recovery was possible. The panel says nothing in the record suggests defendants should have known to check the park more frequently, as plaintiff presented no proof of similar accidents in the area; plaintiff admitted that he did not see the hole because it was “camouflaged by brush and grass”; and plaintiff presented to explain why defendants should have expected holes to develop in the area.

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