Amberger-Warren v City of Piedmont

City of Piedmont's Respondent's Brief


Plaintiff was injured while on a paved walkway inside a publicly owned dog park and sued the City of Piedmont, California. Plaintiff claimed the walkway's design made it unreasonably dangerous and that a lack of maintenance made it even more so.

Piedmont obtained summary judgment based on 'trail immunity,' a little-known and little-used statutory immunity available to government entities to avoid liability in certain circumstances when people are injured while using public trails (Gov't. Code section 831.4). Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the paved walkway or sidewalk in the dog park did not constitute a 'trail' under the code. This document is the brief I prepared on behalf of the City of Piedmont which analyzes the trail immunity defense and the precise wording of the statute, demonstrating that the paved walkway/sidewalk was in fact a 'trail' under the law.

The case was particularly interesting for me because, although the statute setting forth the trail immunity defense was enacted in 1963, it had been invoked only a few times and there was almost no decisional law addressing the defense. It was therefore necessary to very carefully parse the language of the statute and discuss the several amendments to the statute that had been enacted over the years in order to demonstrate the legislature's meaning. It was a very enjoyable assignment for me.

The Court of Appeal rendered its decision in favor of the City of Piedmont and published the decision at 143 Cal.App.4th 1074.

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Reference Info:Appellate Brief | State, 9th Circuit, California | United States

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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