MacFadyen v. Maki

Appeals Court Decision in MacFadyen v. Maki on slip and falls at Christmas tree farms


Ellen S. MacFadyen injured her elbow when she tripped over a snow-covered tree stump while selecting a Christmas tree at the Star of the East Christmas Tree Farm, owned and operated by Robert L. Maki. Mr. Maki cited M.G.L. c. 128, § 2E, as an affirmative defense to the plaintiff's claims of negligence and gross negligence.

M.G.L. c. 128, § 2E states:

No owner, operator, or employee of a farm who allows any person to enter said farm for the purpose of agricultural harvesting, including the cutting of Christmas trees under a so-called “pick-your-own” agreement shall be liable for injuries or death to persons, or damage to property, resulting from the conduct of such operation in the absence of wilful, wanton, or reckless conduct on the part of said owner, operator, or employee.

Said owner or operator of said farm shall post and maintain signs which contain the warning notice specified herein. Such signs shall be placed in a location visible to persons allowed to enter said farm for the purpose of agricultural harvesting. The warning notice shall appear on a sign in black letters, with each letter to be a minimum of one inch in height and shall contain the following notice:

WARNING . . . . [omitted - see statute]

Unfortunately, Mr. Maki did not post a sign with that warning.

So, the Massachusetts Appeals Court held that "an owner of a tree farm must post a warning sign in accordance with G. L. c. 128, § 2E, in order to avail himself of the protection of the statute."

If you own or operate a pick-your-own Christmas tree farm, make sure you have your warning sign posted and that the warning matches that statute.

If you are going to a pick-your-own Christmas tree farm, watch watch where you are walking.

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Reference Info:Decision | State, 1st Circuit, Massachusetts | 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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