Normandin v. Encanto Adventures (5/17/19)

We blogged the Court of Appeals’ opinion here; go there for the facts. The Supreme Court affirms as to the City of Phoenix (its liability was not contested before the court) but reverses as to Encanto Adventures.

The court decides that recreational-use immunity applies to a “manager” under the statute (33-1551) only if the manager is “a person or entity with the power to exclude or otherwise control access to property.” This is because the purpose of the statute is to “to encourage landowners and others to open lands to recreational users and to continue to keep the lands open” and because the other persons given immunity by the statute have such authority. The opinion also briefly reviews statutory history — the category of “manager” was added later. For reasons unclear the court believes that this not only supports its holding but “refutes” the contrary view. Finally, the court says that if one who manages property without controlling access gets immunity then so would landscapers and tree-trimmers (yes, that’s what it says; read the end of ¶16).

Although Encanto Adventures was in charge of the property it did not control access to it and was therefore not a “manager” entitled to immunity under 33-1551.

This lacks considerably of being the most convincing opinion the court has issued. The legislature can of course change the statute if it chooses, though that will not end the matter: the organized war against the statute has constitutional arguments left that this opinion expressly declines to address.

(Opinion: Normandin v. Encanto Adventures)