United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, at London
OPINION AND ORDER
KAREN K. CALDWELL, Chief District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on the motion for summary judgment (DE 27) filed by defendants Asher Land and Mineral, LLLP and Asher Coal Mining Company (together "Asher"). For the following reasons, the Court will grant the motion.
The plaintiff Smith asserts that he took part in an event in Bell County at the Wilderness Trail Off-Road Park. According to the plaintiff, the park consists of 9, 000 acres and "advertises over 120 miles of off-road trails available to drivers of ATV's, sideby-sides, dirt bikes, jeeps, trucks and other off-road vehicles." (DE 5, Complaint ¶ 15.) According to the plaintiff, the park is operated by the county. (DE 25 at CM-ECF p. 5.) The event at issue occurred the weekend of October 19, 2012 and was organized by the defendant Holler Crawlers Off-Road Club, Inc. (DE 5, Complaint ¶ 8.)
The event included a Holler Crawler Haunted Forest Ride, the goal of which was to "break the world record for most ATV's and utility terrain vehicles in a parade." (Complaint ¶ 18.) The forest ride occurred the afternoon of October 20, 2012. (DE 5, Complaint ¶ 18.) That evening, a "haunted trail ride" and a concert took place on the property. (DE 5, Complaint ¶ 19; DE 30-1, Mem. at 1.)
At about 4:00 that afternoon, an event participant named Steve Payne was killed when two underage motorcyclists collided with his motorcycle. (DE 30-1, Mem. at 2.) A couple of hours later, the plaintiff Joey Smith was driving a side-by-side ATV to the concert with Luke Woodward and two other passengers. (DE 30-1, Mem. at 2.) Smith's ATV was overturned and he and Woodward were injured. (DE 30-1, Mem. at 2.)
Smith filed this action against various defendants including Asher. Smith alleges that Asher "owned and operated" the park. (DE 5, Complaint ¶ 15.) The Court construes Smith's complaint to assert a negligence claim against all of the defendants. Asher now moves for summary judgment in its favor.
With its summary judgment motion, Asher submits evidence that it owns the land on which a portion of the park is situated and leases that land to Bell County Fiscal Court. (DE 27-2, Asher Aff; DE 27-3, Lease). The plaintiff does not dispute that.
Asher asserts that it is immune from liability under a state statute known as the "Recreational Use Statute, " the intent of which is to encourage landowners "to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes." KRS 411.190(2). Various states have enacted such statutes in order to provide landowners who open their lands to the public "legislative immunity from acts of ordinary negligence" so that states do not have to "acquire land for recreational use by their citizens." Midwestern, Inc. v. N. Kentucky Cmty. Ctr., 736 S.W.2d 348, 351 (Ky. App. 1987). The limitations on landowner liability are found in subsections 3 and 4 of the statute. Subsection 3 provides:
Except as specifically recognized by or provided in subsection (6) of this section, an owner of land owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes, or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on the premises to persons entering for such purposes.
Subsection 4 of the statute provides:
Except as specifically recognized by or provided in subsection (6) of this section, an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any person to use the ...