May 22, 2018

Colorado Court of Appeals: Premises Liability Act Governs Auto Collision on Private Property

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Tancrede v. Freund on Thursday, March 23, 2017.

Private PropertyTrespassInjuriesNegligent DrivingPremises Liability Act.

Plaintiff was a passenger in a car that was traveling through a private alley owned by defendants. Plaintiff’s vehicle collided with a Denver East Machinery Company (DEMC) truck driven by Freund. A police accident report determined that Freund was at fault and drove carelessly when rounding a corner of the DEMC building without looking or slowing down.

Plaintiff asserted claims of negligence and negligence per se. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that because the accident occurred on their private property, plaintiff could only assert claims under the Premises Liability Act (PLA). The trial court granted the motion but allowed plaintiff to amend her complaint to assert a PLA claim, which plaintiff did. Defendants moved again for summary judgment and the trial court granted the motion, determining that plaintiff was a trespasser, and because she did not allege a willful or deliberate injury, she was not entitled to relief.

On appeal, plaintiff contended that the PLA does not preclude her negligent driving claim and that the court erred in entering the initial summary judgment against her. The PLA limits the liability of landowners for injuries occurring on their property and preempts common law tort claims against landowners by specifying the duties owed to particular classes of injured plaintiffs. Such preempted claims include those for negligence per se against landowners for damages occurring on their premises. The collision arose from activities conducted on defendants’ property; thus the PLA controlled, and plaintiff was a trespasser who could only recover if she could demonstrate that defendants injured her willfully or deliberately. Plaintiff made no such allegations.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

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