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Recent Slip and Fall Governmental Immunity Decision

Posted in On December 16, 2022


In addressing the application of Governmental Immunity to a slip and fall in a college dormitory the Colorado Court of Appeals made several specific findings and concluded that immunity had been waived.
Student who slipped and fell on wet, slippery stairs in his dormitory that, due to their black coloring, were difficult for student to see that they were wet, brought a premises liability claim against university. The District Court, Boulder County Andrew Hartman, J., found that university had not waived its immunity under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act and granted university’s motion to dismiss. Student appealed.

Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Kuhn, J., held that:

1 student sufficiently established that student’s injury occurred as a result of physical condition of public facility or use thereof;

2 student sufficiently established that physical condition of public facility was known to exist or should have been known to exist in exercise of reasonable care;

3 university’s alleged negligent failure to post a warning next to imperceptibly wet, recently mopped stairs in dormitory constituted a negligent act or omission proximately causing dangerous condition; and

4 imperceptibly wet, slippery stairs in dormitory posed an unreasonable risk to the health and safety of the public.
Imperceptibly wet, slippery stairs in dormitory posed an unreasonable risk to health and safety of public, satisfying element of the Walton test, 968 P.2d 636, to determine whether sovereign immunity under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act was waived for a dangerous condition of any public building, in student’s premises liability action against university, where student’s injury that would require two surgeries to repair was an injury exceeding the bound of reason, posting a wet-floor sign was a cheap and available solution to mitigate risk posed by wet flooring, university did not challenge student’s allegation that his injury was caused primarily by the stairs, and hazardous physical condition was located in both high foot-traffic area and area of heightened public safety concern. C.R.S. §§24-10-103(1.3); 24-10-106(1)(c).