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Poston v. Unified School Dist. No. 387

April 27, 2007

KEVIN D. POSTON, APPELLANT,
v.
UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 387, ALTOONA-MIDWAY, WILSON COUNTY, APPELLEE.



Appeal from Wilson District Court; DAVID W. ROGERS, judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. K.S.A. 2006 Supp. 75-6104 is analyzed and applied.

2. In adopting K.S.A. 2006 Supp. 75-6104, there was an intent by the legislature to establish a broad application of recreational use immunity.

3. Under the facts of this case, an outside door leading into a commons area which lies directly adjacent to a gymnasium being used for recreational purposes is found to qualify for the limited recreational use immunity from tort liability granted by K.S.A. 2006 Supp. 75-6104(o).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pierron, J.

Affirmed.

Before McANANY, P.J., ELLIOTT and PIERRON, JJ.

Kevin D. Poston appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment to Unified School District No. 387, Altoona-Midway School District (District). We affirm.

The District operates a middle school in Altoona, Kansas. The school has an indoor gymnasium, which is generally accessed through the south doors of the building. The south doors open onto a commons area; double doors lead from one side of the commons area to the gym.

In January 2003, Poston was at the middle school to pick up his stepson, who was at a city sponsored basketball practice. Poston walked through the south doors and through the commons area to the gym doors. Poston testified that he motioned to his stepson that he was there and that it was time for the stepson to come out to the car.

Poston was exiting the building through the south doors when one of the brackets on the door came loose and fell onto Poston's head. Poston's head was cut and bleeding, and he sought medical attention.

Poston filed a petition in December 2004, claiming the District was negligent for allowing the door hinge to become loose and failing to warn him of the danger. Poston sought damages including compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses, and loss of services.

The District responded by filing a motion for summary judgment. In the motion, the District argued that it was immune from liability under the recreational use exception of the Kansas Tort Claims Act (KTCA), K.S.A. 75-6101 et seq. The District claimed that Poston's injury occurred in an area that was close enough to the indoor gymnasium to qualify as an "open area" for purposes of recreational use immunity.

In its memorandum decision, the trial court noted that Poston's injury did not take place within the gymnasium proper, but instead in the commons area adjacent to the gym. However, after reviewing the facts and appellate court precedent, the trial court concluded that the commons area was an "appendage" to the gymnasium such that it qualified under the recreational use exception. The trial court did not address the issue of whether the commons area qualified as a recreational use area in its own right, as ...


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