In a recent premises liability case, a Tennessee statute shielded the property owner from liability for a four-wheeler accident that occurred on his property. In McCaig v. Whitmore, No. W2015-00646-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 22, 2016), plaintiff and his family were attending a social gathering at defendant’s home, which consisted of around seven acres of land and a house. Defendant had ATVs, and took rides with plaintiff’s wife and son, giving them instructions about how to drive safely and what areas to avoid. Plaintiff “neither asked for nor received the same detailed instructions from [defendant].” While riding and following his wife, who was driving another ATV, plaintiff’s ATV flipped and landed on top of him, causing severe injuries.
Plaintiff filed a negligence suit, alleging that defendant was “liable to them for negligence as a result of failing to properly instruct [plaintiff] on how to operate the ATV and by failing to warn [plaintiff] of dangerous and concealed conditions on his property that were known to [defendant].” Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the Tennessee Recreational Use Statute (TRUS), Tenn. Code Ann. § 70-7-101 et. seq., barred recovery by plaintiff. The trial court granted summary judgment, finding that pursuant to the TRUS, defendant owed no duty to plaintiff, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 70-7-102 states:
(a) The landowner, lessee, occupant, or any person in control of land or premises owes no duty of care to keep such land or premises safe for entry or use by others for such recreational activities as…off-road vehicle riding…and nor shall such landowner be required to give any warning of hazardous conditions, uses of, structures, or activities on such land or premises to any person entering on such land or premises for such purposes, except as provided in § 70-7-104.