Wang v. Nibbelink

Facts: An owner of partially fenced land makes their property freely available to the public for recreational events. A horse associated with a public event gets loose and tramples a neighbor on adjacent property.

Claim: The neighbor seeks money losses from the landowner, claiming they are liable for the neighbor’s injuries since the landowner failed to build and maintain an adequate fence around the property.

Counter claim: The landowner claims they are not liable for the neighbor’s injuries since they are statutorily immune from liability for off-premise injuries caused by recreational users of the land.

Holding: A California appeals court holds the landowner is not liable for their neighbor’s injuries since landowners who open their property to the public for recreational use are immune from liability for injuries suffered by others resulting from the public’s use of the property. [Wang v. Nibbelink (October 13, 2016)__ CA4th__]

Editor’s note — California Civil Code §846 shields landowners from liability “…for any injury to person or property caused by any act of the person to whom permission has been granted.” The public policy objective behind this law is to encourage landowners to allow public use of their land for recreational purposes without fear of litigation.

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