County District Court File No. 58-CV-15-279
S. Ballentine, Matthew J. Barber, Richard L. Tousignant,
Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota
A. Poetz, Matthew W. Moehrle, Steven A. Bader, Rajkowski
Hansmeier, Ltd., St. Cloud, Minnesota (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Schellhas,
Judge; and Bratvold, Judge.
recreational-use statute, Minn. Stat. §§
604A.20-.27 (2016), does not apply when a landowner does not
offer private land to the public for recreational purposes.
was hunting on respondent-father's land and was injured
while climbing into a deer stand. Appealing from a judgment,
appellant challenges the district court's decision
granting partial summary judgment in favor of respondent.
Appellant argues that the district court erred in its
interpretation of Minn. Stat. § 604A.22, the
recreational-use statute, and, as a result, erroneously
instructed the jury on the duty of care. Because it is
undisputed that respondent did not offer his hunting land for
public use, we conclude the recreational-use statute does not
apply to limit respondent's liability. Thus, the district
court erred in granting partial summary judgment for
respondent and in its jury instructions. We reverse and
remand for a new trial.
Robert Ouradnik owns approximately 40 acres of land in Pine
County; he lives on the property with his wife and hunts
there with his adult children. Appellant Corey Ouradnik is
one of Robert's three adult sons. Before his sons were
allowed to hunt on his land, Robert expected them to notify
him, which they did. Robert has excluded extended family from
his hunting land and has not opened the land to the public
for hunting or other recreational activities. Robert has
posted "no trespassing" signs on his land.
November 10, 2012, Corey climbed into a deer stand on
Robert's property. The stand was mounted on a tree and
accessed by climbing up board steps that were attached to the
tree trunk. A board gave way, causing Corey to fall
approximately 16 feet to the ground. Corey injured his right
leg and left ankle and needed surgery.
built and maintained the stand from which Corey fell; the
stand was one of several that Robert built sometime after he
bought the property in approximately 2002. Shortly before the
accident occurred, Robert re-secured the steps, which were
fastened to the tree with nails, by counter-sinking six-inch
screws to "make them more secure." Although Robert
completed this task with several deer stands, he did not add
screws to the board that failed because he ran out of screws.
filed suit, and Robert moved for summary judgment, arguing
that he was "shielded from liability" under
Minnesota's recreational-use statute, Minn. Stat §
604A.20. The district court concluded that the
recreational-use statute applied to limit Robert's
liability and granted partial summary judgment because Robert
gave permission to Corey to use the land without charge for
recreational purposes. The recreational-use statute, however,
provides that a qualifying landowner continues to have the
duties owed to a trespasser. The district court concluded
that whether Robert was liable under the "trespasser
exception" raised fact questions and set the case for
jury found that Robert did not have actual knowledge that the
steps were likely to cause injury, the condition of the steps
was not hidden from Corey, Corey was 95% at fault and Robert
was 5% at fault. The district court directed entry of
judgment for Robert. Corey moved the district court for a new
trial, arguing in part, that Robert's duties were broader
than under the trespasser exception and the district court
erred in instructing the jury on Robert's duties. The
district court denied the motion, and this appeal follows.
district court err in concluding that the recreational-use
statute applies to limit respondent's liability when it
is undisputed that respondent's private land ...