The Colorado Supreme Court decided three cases yesterday focusing on the meaning of a provision of the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA) that waives immunity for claims arising from injuries allegedly caused by a dangerous condition of a public facility located in a public park or recreation area. The cases involved the parking lot of a public golf course, a zip-line on an elementary school playground, and a walkway that was used to access an elementary school and the school playground.

The court held that there were three ways that a purported public facility would be a public facility within the meaning of the CGIA:

  • First, if the construction shares common features with other items listed in the recreation waiver, that is, such as jails, hospitals, public water, gas and sanitation facilities.
  • Second, if there is strong legislative history showing that the General Assembly intended for the construction to be considered a public facility located in a public park or recreation area.
  • Third, the construction might be a public facility if it is a component of a larger collection of items that promote a common purpose.

Applying the court’s analysis to the facts of the three cases, the court held that the playground zip-line fell into the third category, and therefore was a public facility located in a park or recreation area. The court held that the golf course parking lot was a public facility because of legislative history evidenced by an earlier amendment to the CGIA. Finally, the court held that the sidewalk adjacent to the elementary school playground did not fit within any category. Therefore, the School District, represented by Caplan and Earnest attorneys, including Stu Stuller, was immune from liability for injuries sustained by a student when he allegedly tripped in a puddle of water.