Visitors to a Renaissance festival expect to see jousts and sword fights, but they don’t typically expect to be the one dealing with an inadvertent injury at the end of the festivities. However, injuries can happen in the most unexpected places, including as described in a recent decision from the Second District Court of Appeal, the parking lot outside a Renaissance festival. In that decision, Cook v. Bay Area Renaissance Festival of Largo, Inc., the Second District needed to determine whether a trial court erred in granting summary judgment in a trip and fall case.
As noted above, the plaintiff in this case was injured while navigating the parking lot of a local Renaissance festival. Festival volunteers had directed the plaintiff to park in the overflow parking lot. There was an unpaved walkway on a patch of municipality-owned land between the parking lot and the grounds where the festival was being held. Following the festival, the plaintiff was returning to the car when she tripped on an exposed pipe that was on the patch of municipal land. There was nothing obstructing the plaintiff’s view of the pipe. Indeed, the plaintiff’s husband and other festival attendees attempted to warn the plaintiff of the pipe before she tripped. A festival volunteer removed the pipe shortly after the fall. The plaintiff brought a premises liability suit, arguing that the festival was negligent in maintaining the property. The festival moved for summary judgment on her claim against them, arguing that there was not evidence that they had control over the land where the injury occurred. There was conflicting evidence, however, regarding whether festival volunteers had directed her to use the walkway. The trial court granted the festival’s motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.