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Armenio v. County of San Mateo

Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Five.

September 19, 1994, Decided

No. A063222.


 [*415]  [**633]   HANING, J.--Plaintiff and appellant Ralph Armenio appeals a summary judgment in favor of defendant and respondent County of San Mateo in his action for personal injuries. He contends the trial court erroneously concluded respondent was immune from liability by virtue of Government Code section 831.4, 1 and that triable issues of fact exist concerning the purpose of the trail on which his injuries occurred. We affirm.


Appellant [***2]  was injured while riding his bicycle along Sawyer Camp Trail, which is described in the park and recreation resources section of respondent's general plan as a "scenic linear park located in the San Francisco Watershed . . . . This is a 6.2 mile surfaced trail with rest areas for bicyclists, hikers, joggers, and equestrians." The "San Mateo County Trails Plan[,]" adopted in a revised edition by respondent's board of supervisors in March 1990, two years before appellant's injuries, identifies Sawyer Camp Trail as an "Existing Established Trail[.]" The entire area in which the trail is located and access thereto is enclosed by a fence, and the trail does not provide access to unimproved areas. It is inspected daily by respondent for hazards and dangerous conditions. According to appellant's complaint, he fell as a result of a dangerous condition created by improper patching of the trail.

Respondent moved for summary judgment on the grounds of immunity under ] section 831.4, which states: "A public entity, public employee, or a grantor of a public easement to a public entity for any of the following purposes, is not liable for an injury caused by a condition of: [P] (a) Any  [*416]   [***3]  unpaved road which provides access to fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, riding, including animal and all types of vehicular riding, water sports, recreational or scenic areas . . . . [P] (b) Any trail used for the above purposes. [P] (c) Any paved trail, walkway, path, or sidewalk on an easement of way which has been granted to a public entity, which easement provides access to any unimproved property, so long as such public entity shall reasonably attempt to provide adequate warnings of the existence of any condition of the paved trail, walkway, path, or sidewalk which constitutes a hazard to health or safety. Warnings required by this subdivision shall only be required where pathways are paved, and such requirement shall not be construed to be a standard of care for any unpaved pathways or roads."

Summary judgment was granted on the basis of section 831.4 immunity and Giannuzzi v. State of California (1993) 17 Cal. App. 4th 462 [21 Cal. Rptr. 2d 335].

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28 Cal. App. 4th 413 *; 33 Cal. Rptr. 2d 631 **; 1994 Cal. App. LEXIS 930 ***; 94 Cal. Daily Op. Service 7209; 94 Daily Journal DAR 13189

RALPH ARMENIO, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. COUNTY OF SAN MATEO, Defendant and Respondent.

Prior History:  [***1]  Superior Court of San Mateo County, No. 374754, Harlan K. Veal, Judge.

Disposition: The judgment is affirmed.


trail, subdivision, immunity, public entity, recreational, riding, paved, provide access, unimproved, injuries, refers, recreational activity, easement, purposes, unpaved, roads

Governments, Local Governments, Claims By & Against, Real Property Law, Limited Use Rights, Easements, Public Easements, Torts, Public Entity Liability, Immunities, General Overview, Legislation, Interpretation, Public Contracts Law, Governmental Immunities, Sovereign Immunity, Types of Premises, Recreational Facilities, Campgrounds & Parks, General Premises Liability, Dangerous Conditions, Natural Conditions, Swimming Areas, Absolute Immunity, Liability, Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law