Nov 20, 2008 , Timothy T. Coates
Court of Appeal affirms dismissal of dangerous condition claim on basis of statutory natural-condition immunity

Corey Romagnano v. Rancho Simi Recreation & Park District (2008) 2008 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 9333 (California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Six). [unpublished]. Plaintiff was injured when he slipped and fell off a steep cliff at a public park. He sued GMSR’s client, Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, alleging a dangerous condition of public property. The trial court sustained Rancho Simi’s demurrer to plaintiff’s second amended complaint on the ground that Rancho Simi had absolute statutory immunity from suit for an injury caused by a natural condition of any unimproved public property. The plaintiff appealed, claiming that his complaint showed that the cliff was not unimproved because Rancho Simi had constructed a baseball diamond elsewhere in the park and over ten years ago had drilled pin holes into the cliff, which had become overgrown by moss making the cliff more slippery. The appellate court affirmed. It held that the alleged changes either were not improvements either to the place where the injury occurred or did not so change the physical characteristics of the property as to qualify it as improved or take it outside of the statute. It also held that it was joining other courts in outright rejecting the hybrid dangerous condition exception to the statutory immunity propounded in Gonzales v. City of San Diego (1982) 130 Cal.App.3d 882.