Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church

Facts: The owner of property designed for public gatherings invites a large number of guests to a function on the property. The primary parking lot fills to capacity and the owner instructs additional guests to park in an overflow parking lot across a busy five-lane street. No crosswalk or traffic signal connects the property to the offsite parking. A guest is struck by a car while crossing the street from the parking lot to the property, sustaining severe injuries.

Claim: The guest seeks to hold the property owner liable for their injuries, claiming the property owner is negligent since they created a foreseeable risk of harm to users of the property by directing guests to offsite parking in a location requiring guests to cross an unsafe street.

Counterclaim: The property owner claims they are not responsible for the guest’s injury since the injury occurred on a public street the property owner neither owns nor controls.

Holding: The California Supreme Court holds the property owner is not liable for the guest’s injury since the property owner does not own or control the street on which the injury occurred. [Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church (November 13, 2017)_CA4th_]

Read the case text.

Editor’s note — We previously reported a lower court ruling on this case in which the court held the property owner is in fact liable for the guest’s injury. The lower court argued that although the property owner is not responsible for the street on which the injury occurred, they did control the location and operation of the overflow lot. The California Supreme Court reversed that decision.