Our Client v. Sand Hill Ranch Motocross Park, et al.
Contra Costa County Superior Court
Result: $3,043,491 ($2,268,491 binding arbitration award and $775,000 in settlement).
Facts: Our client paid a $20 fee to ride his dirt bike at Sand Hill Ranch Motocross Park in Brentwood, California, and signed a release that waived many of his rights to make claims against the park. He began to ride his motorcycle on Sand Hill Ranch's 40 acres of trails. He took one trail that unknowingly led him off Sand Hill Ranch's property and onto the property of a neighbor, the Brentwood Rod and Gun Club. That trail led to a 25-foot man made cliff, the visibility of which was obscured by a tree. Our client rode his dirt bike around the tree at approximately 20 mph, and unsuspectedly drove off the cliff. He landed on several large boulders at the base of the cliff.
As a result, our client suffered serious injuries, including a comminuted fracture of his right wrist and a T7 burst fracture. He underwent spinal surgery to install hardware to fuse T3-T9. He missed 15 months from his employment.
Plaintiff claimed negligence and gross negligence against Sand Hill Ranch Motocross Park and the Brentwood Rod and Gun Club for failing to warn our client about the boundaries of the motocross facility and the presence of the dangerous cliff. Defendants contended 1) that the release signed by plaintiff barred his claim, 2) that plaintiff assumed the risk of injury by participating in motocross as a sporting activity, 3) that plaintiff negligently caused his injuries, and 4) that recreational immunity under Civil Code Section 846 also barred plaintiff's claim.
Plaintiff settled with the Brentwood Rod and Gun Club for $750,000 prior to trial and with the trucking company that dumped the boulders at the base of the cliff for $25,000. The insurance company that had previously insured Sand Hill Ranch Motocross Park refused to defend or indemnify Sand Hill Ranch in this case. On the eve of trial, plaintiff agreed to an assignment of right against Sand Hill Ranch's insurance carrier and broker, and to submit the case to binding arbitration. The arbitrator awarded plaintiff $2,268,491 in damages against Sand Hill Ranch Motocross Park.