Minnesota Supreme Court Says Son Can Sue Father Over Hunting Accident

June 12, 2018

A Minnesota man has taken a lawsuit against his father all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The high court this week clarified a state law on public access for hunting, clearing the way for Corey Ouradnik to sue his father, Robert Ouradnik, over a deer hunting accident.

According to court documents, his father doesn’t allow anyone outside of his immediate family to hunt on his 40 acre land, and has posted at least one “No Trespassing” sign to deter non-family members. He excluded extended family, his son’s friends and members of the general public from hunting on his land. His father built five tree stands for deer hunting. When he initially built them, he affixed the boards to the trees with nails. In 2012, he began to replace the nails with 6-inch screws, but did not have enough screws to re-fasten every board. Some boards remained affixed by nails.

On November 10, 2012, while climbing into one of the deer stands Corey Ouradnik grabbed a board that was still secured by nails. The board came loose and he fell 16 feet to the ground, breaking both his legs and his left foot. His recovery took multiple surgeries and left him with a six-figure medical bill.

The district court had granted a partial summary judgment on behalf of his father, citing that he was entitled to immunity under Minnesota’s Recreational Use Statute. With this decision, the son could only pursue recovery under the trespasser exception to the statute. Corey Ouradnik appealed the decision and the Court of Appeals reversed district court’s decision holding that the
Recreational-Use Statute did not apply because his father didn’t offer his land for use by the
public. Minnesota’s high court reaffirmed the appeals court decision.

The Supreme Court found that:

  1. Minnesota’s Recreational-Use Statute, Minn. Stat. §§ 604A.20–.27 (2016),
    does not apply to private land that is not used by the public for beneficial recreational
  2. A landowner who gave permission to only his immediate family to use his private land for recreational purposes, and excluded others, does not qualify for the duty-of-care and liability limitations in the Recreational-Use Statute.

The Star Tribune reports his attorney, Matt Barber, says the lawsuit is all about recovering insurance money. He says Minnesota requires people who are injured to sue the person who injured them if they hope to recover a payment.

Read the decision.

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