Montana State Jury Returns Verdict For City In Widow's Action Asserting Negligence By City In Allowing Steep Bike Path Where Husband Had Died In Skateboarding Accident
Casey Kent, 35 years old, was skateboarding on a steep bike path in the Cedar Point Estates subdivision in the City of Columbia Falls. He died as the result of an accident that occurred while he was skateboarding. The subdivision was designed and engineered by John Schwarz and APEC, Inc. for Donald A. Gatzke, the principal of Cedar Point. The City allegedly had design approval for the paths in the subdivision.
On or around June 1, 2011, Sara Kent, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Casey Kent, Deceased, and as guardian for their minor children, S.K. and L.K., filed an action in the Montana Eleventh Judicial District Court, Flathead County against the City of Columbia Falls; APEC, Inc.; John Schwarz; Donald A. Gatzke; Cedar Point Estates Homeowners' Association, Inc.; and John Does A-Z. Kent asserted claims for negligent design, building, operation, control, and maintenance of the path and trail system in the subdivision. Kent asserted claims against the City for negligently holding out the path as a safe course for public travel and for failing to follow its regulations. Kent asserted claims for premises liability, willful and wanton misconduct, breach of professional duties, negligence per se, nuisance, attractive nuisance, and wrongful death. Kent sought damages, special damages, abatement of the nuisance, interest, costs, attorney fees, and other relief. The City filed an answer denying the claims and asserting affirmative defenses including, proximate cause, contributory negligence, failure to mitigate, causal apportionment, ordinance.
The action was assigned to Judge Katherine R. Curtis. The action proceeded to a jury trial against the City, the other defendants having previously settled. On May 9, 2016, the jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants. The jury responded to the question of whether the City was negligent with 10 of the 12 jurors answering no.
For more on the case, including counsel information, Lexis Advance subscribers can access the jury verdict summary here: Sara Kent, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Casey Kent, Deceased, and as guardian for their minor children, S.K. and L.K., v. City of Columbia Falls; PEC, Inc.; John Schwarz; Donald A. Gatzke; Cedar Point Estates Homeowners' Association, Inc.; and John Does A-Z; 2016 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 3075
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