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Woody v. Pembina County Annual Fair & Exhibition Ass'n

Supreme Court of North Dakota

March 15, 2016

Audra D. Woody, Plaintiff and Appellant
v.
Pembina County Annual Fair and Exhibition Association, Defendant and Appellee

          Appeal from the District Court of Pembina County, Northeast Judicial District, the Honorable John C. McClintock, Jr., Judge.

         Thomas V. Omdahl (argued) and Clint D. Morgenstern (on brief), Grand Forks, ND, for plaintiff and appellant.

         Daniel L. Gaustad (argued), Ronald F. Fischer (on brief) and John A. Olson (on brief), Grand Forks, ND, for defendant and appellee.

         Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court by Crothers, Justice. Dale V. Sandstrom, concured in the result.

          OPINION

Page 71

          Daniel J. Crothers, Justice.

          [¶1] Audra Woody appeals after a district court granted summary judgment in favor of Pembina County Annual Fair and Exhibition Association. Woody argues the district court erred granting the Fair's motion for summary judgment. We affirm.

         I

          [¶2] Woody attended a fireworks display at the Pembina County Fair in Hamilton, N.D. The Fair is a non-profit and taxexempt corporation under the laws of North Dakota and the federal Internal Revenue Code. The Fair offered a fireworks display to the public free of charge. Woody did not pay a fee for entry onto the fairgrounds or for any activity she engaged in at the fairgrounds. While looking for a seat to watch the fireworks, Woody stepped on a rotten board in the grandstand, fell to the ground and suffered personal injuries. Woody sued the Fair alleging she sustained serious bodily injury due to the Fair's negligence and maintenance of the grandstand. The parties stipulated to the facts of the case and the Fair moved to dismiss the complaint, alleging no genuine issues of material fact existed. The district court granted summary judgment for the Fair, finding it was protected from liability by recreational use immunity under N.D.C.C. ch. 53-08. Woody appeals.

         II

          [¶3] Woody argues the district court erred granting summary judgment because it misapplied North Dakota's recreational use immunity statutes. Woody alleges the Fair was not entitled to immunity because the Fair was engaged in commercial, rather than recreational purposes. This Court's review of a summary judgment is well established:

Page 72

" In determining whether summary judgment was appropriately granted, we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and that party will be given the benefit of all favorable inferences which can reasonably be drawn from the record. On appeal, this Court decides whether the information available to the district court precluded the existence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitled the moving party to judgment as a matter of law. Whether the district court properly granted summary judgment is a question of law which we review de novo on the entire record."

Hamilton v. Woll, 2012 ND 238, ¶ 9, 823 N.W.2d 754 (quoting Wenco v. EOG Resources, Inc.,2012 ND 219, ¶ 8, 82 ...


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