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155380 - Kerri Otto, Next Friend of Bailey Noble v Inn at Watervale

Kerri Hunter Otto, Next Friend of Bailey Ann Marie Noble, Minor,
Matthew T. Hanley
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Benzie – Thompson, D.)
Inn at Watervale, Inc.,
John C. Worsfold


Plaintiff Kerri Hunter Otto’s 10-year-old daughter Bailey Noble, and Bailey’s friend Sophie and her parents, went to the private property of defendant The Inn at Watervale in August 2013 to enjoy the Lake Michigan beach. They laid towels on the beach and, while the two adults read books, the girls built sand castles and splashed around in the water. About an hour into the visit, Bailey stepped on hot coals, burning her foot. The hot coals apparently had been left by other unknown beachgoers who had covered them with sand. Plaintiff filed this negligence suit against defendant. Defendant moved for summary disposition under the Recreational Land Use Act (RUA), MCL 324.73301(1), which requires a plaintiff engaged in “fishing, hunting, trapping, camping, hiking, sightseeing, motorcycling, snowmobiling, or any other outdoor recreational use or trail use” of another’s property to show that her injuries were caused by the “gross negligence or willful and wanton misconduct” of the property owner. The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of defendant, finding that the RUA barred plaintiff’s complaint because the girls’ beach activities constituted ‘any other outdoor recreational use.’” The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the girls’ beach activities were not “outdoor recreational use” of defendant’s property within the meaning of the RUA. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on defendant’s application for leave to appeal to address whether the activities engaged in by plaintiff’s daughter and her companions constituted “other outdoor recreational use” of the defendant’s land under the RUA.