North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for City in Premises Liability Case where Toddler Suffered Severe Burns on Metal Skateboard Ramp

One of the most common activities for families with children is to take their kids to the park. When city officials fail to maintain a public park in a safe condition, however, the children can face devastating injuries or even death. If you or your child were injured on public property, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and expenses. Bringing a premises liability lawsuit against a government entity can be more complex due to statutes providing government officials with immunity from liability in some instances. Contact our Charlotte premises liability lawyers today to start learning about your potential case.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered a case in which a child who was 18 months old suffered severe burn injuries when he fell on a metal skate park ramp that had become hot from sun exposure. The parents brought a complaint against the city that maintains the skate park and the manufacturer of the metal ramp alleging that the metal ramp was a dangerous condition and that the city and the manufacturer failed to provide a warning that the metal ramp could become dangerously hot due to sun exposure.

The manufacturer filed an answer asserting several affirmative defenses, including intervening negligence of a third party, the babysitter who was supervising the minor at the skate park. The city raised similar defenses and alleged that the plaintiffs did not establish a viable claim against the city. The city later filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that it was entitled to immunity under N.C. Gen. Stat. section 99E-21, et seq., and that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to establish negligence or gross negligence on the part of the city. The lower court granted the motion and the plaintiffs appealed.

On review, the appellate court reversed finding that the plaintiffs pled sufficient facts to show that the city may have been grossly negligent in maintaining the metal skate ramp. The evidence showed that the city knowingly installed heat-attractive ramps and placed them in an unshaded area that was directly exposed to sunlight and that the city failed to inspect and maintain the skate park or to provide warnings of the hot metal ramps. The city also did not take any precautions to prevent the ramps from becoming hot. The city knew or reasonably should have known that the ramps would become dangerously hot. The appellate court rejected the affirmative defense based on the babysitter, finding that she had no reason to know that the metal ramps were dangerously hot and that she had no opportunity to inspect the ramp before the toddler fell.

The appellate court concluded that the plaintiffs adequately pled a claim for gross negligence based on these facts, which alleges that a party engaged in reckless and wanton conduct. This is a step above negligence, which involves failing to use the same due care and precaution that a reasonably prudent person would use.

If you or a family member was injured on public property, you may be entitled to compensation through a premises liability claim. Having served countless clients throughout the Charlotte area, Maurer Law knows first-hand just how frustrating and stressful this situation can be for you and your family. We offer a free consultation to help you learn about your legal rights and whether you are entitled to a settlement or a judgment. To schedule your appointment call us at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online to get started.