Premises Owners and the Recreational Users Statute

Within the meaning of the recreational use immunity statute, premises owners do not owe absolute duties to recreational users to keep the area fully safe for public use. As to motor vehicles not enjoying an exemption, see RC 1533.181.

Ball Players, Beware

The Ohio Courts will usually find a way to determine that recreational injuries are non-compensable. This is true even if there is a clear violation of ordinance.

Many adult recreational softball leagues, for example have no-collision rules. However, aggressive base runners will sometimes plow into defensive base players, especially catchers.

The bias is against finding any reckless behavior if, say, a base runner collides and causes injuries. The courts generally claim that athletic contests carry with them foreseeable hazards.

The fundamental rule is that there is a separation between sporting events and tort actions. What constitutes an unreasonable risk, and thus recklessness, must be evaluated on the particular circumstances of the sporting event. The rules and customs that shape the participants’ ideas of foreseeable conduct will be looked to by the courts.

The Marchetti v Kalish pronouncement from the Supreme Court, in 1990, is not likely to be eroded in the near future. Individuals who engage in sports or recreational activities assume “the ordinary risks of the activity and cannot recover for any injuries unless there is a showing that the other participant’s actions were intentional or reckless.” This thinking squares with the definitions of Sections 500 and 8A of the Restatement of Torts 2d.