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Burgueno v. Regents of University of California

Court of Appeal of California, Sixth Appellate District

December 15, 2015, Opinion Filed

H040416

Opinion

 [**44]  BAMATTRE-MANOUKIAN, Acting P. J.

I. INTRODUCTION

Student Adrian Burgueno was fatally injured in a bicycle accident on the “Great Meadow Bikeway,” which is on the campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Appellants Teresa Burgueno (Adrian's mother) and Melissa Burgueno (Adrian's sister)1 have brought the instant action against respondents, the Regents of the University of California (the Regents), alleging that the Regents are liable for Adrian's death due to the dangerous condition of the Great Meadow Bikeway. The trial court granted the Regents' motion for summary judgment on the ground that the action was barred under the recreational trail immunity provided by Government Code section 831.4.2

 [**45]  For the reasons stated below, we determine that the causes of action for dangerous condition of public property and wrongful death are barred as a matter of law because the Regents have absolute immunity from claims arising from Adrian's tragic accident on the Great Meadow Bikeway pursuant to the recreational trail immunity provided by section 831.4. We will therefore affirm the summary judgment.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Our factual summary is drawn from the parties' separate statements of fact and the evidence they submitted in connection with the motion for summary judgment.

Adrian was a full-time student at UCSC in February 2011. He lived in an off-campus apartment and commuted to the university on his bicycle. His route to campus included traveling on the Great Meadow Bikeway.

 [*1055] 

The Great Meadow Bikeway is a paved bike path than runs through a portion of the UCSC campus known as the “Great Meadow.” Constructed in 1973, the purpose of the Great Meadow Bikeway is bicycle transportation to and from the central campus that is separate from automobile traffic. There have been a number of bicycle accidents on the Great Meadow Bikeway.

Some bicyclists use the Great Meadow Bikeway for recreation. Members [***3]  of the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club use the Great Meadow Bikeway to access mountain bike paths in the redwood forests above the university campus. The Great Meadow Bikeway ends at the university's music center, where the cycling club members then travel through the campus to reach the mountain bike paths.

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243 Cal. App. 4th 1052 *; 197 Cal. Rptr. 3d 44 **; 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 1186 ***

TERESA BURGUENO et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Defendant and Respondent.

Subsequent History:  [***1] The Publication Status of this Document has been Changed by the Court from Unpublished to Published January 13, 2016.

Prior History: Superior Court of Santa Cruz County, No. CV173578.

Burgeuno v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal., 2015 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 9017 (Cal. App. 6th Dist., Dec. 15, 2015)

CORE TERMS

Bikeway, trail, recreational, immunity, campus, public entity, bicycle, summary judgment, cause of action, paved, recreational activity, bicycle accident, provide access, bike path, riding, trial court, subdivision, highway, path, dangerous condition of public property, summary judgment motion, dangerous condition, wrongful death, undisputed, commuting, purposes, scenic, provide immunity, bicyclists

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Summary Judgment, Burdens of Proof, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof, Judgments, Evidentiary Considerations, Torts, Public Entity Liability, Liability, State Tort Claims Acts, Immunities, Absolute Immunity, State Tort Claims Acts, Exclusions From Liability, General Premises Liability, Defenses, Recreational Use Statutes