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Moore v. Rice-Land Lumber Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 5, 2014

CHRISTY L. MOORE, ET AL.
v.
RICE-LAND LUMBER CO., ET AL

Page 658

APPEAL FROM THE THIRTY-SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF BEAUREGARD, NO. C-2011-1080. HONORABLE C. KERRY ANDERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.

Daniel Elmo Broussard, Jr., Broussard, Halcomb & Vizzier, Alexandria, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS: Christy L. Moore, Patrick Cane Moore.

R. Todd Musgrave, Brent J. Carbo, Musgrave, McLachlan & Penn, L.L.C., New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES: Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London, Larson & McGowin, Inc., Rice-Land Lumber Co., H& H Hunting Club.

Alison A. Spindler Mansfield, Irwin, Fritchie, Urquhart & Moore, LLC, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Rice-Land Lumber Co.

Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, John D. Saunders, and Billy Howard Ezell, Judges.

OPINION

Page 659

[14-500 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] EZELL, Judge.

This case involves the application of Louisiana's Recreational Use Immunity Statutes in dismissing Christy Moore's claim for damages for the death of her husband who was shot while hunting. Christy argues that, even though Defendants fall within the protective provisions of the recreational use statutes, they agreed by the terms of a hunting license agreement to add certain safety obligations and requirements so that the immunity protection provided by the statutes was not applicable. She also claims that the immunity protection was not available in this case because Defendants' actions were willful and they earned a profit from the hunting operations. The trial court disagreed and granted summary judgment dismissing all defendants from the case. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

FACTS

Rice-Land Lumber Company owned approximately 50,000 acres in Louisiana in 2010 that it used for commercial timber operations. Rice-Land also leased this land for hunting purposes. During 2010, there were approximately forty to forty-one hunting leases on the land. Larson & McGowin, Inc. managed the timber properties of Rice-Land, including the hunting leases. H& H Hunting Club (H& H) leased 1,523 acres from Rice-Land. Patrick Kyle Moore, the decedent, was a member of H& H.

On the morning of December 4, 2010, Patrick brought his father to H& H as a guest to hunt with him. Patrick's father hunted in a box stand which was at the intersection of two fire lanes and a logging road. According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries report, Patrick left his stand to go meet with his father. As he walked toward the blind on the road, he carried a folding bag [14-500 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] chair over his shoulder, with the legs in the air, and his rifle over the other shoulder. At the time, he was wearing a hunter orange hat and a hunter orange vest, but due to the lack of light, the hunter orange was not visible. Thinking he was a buck, Patrick's father shot him, fatally wounding him.

Christy filed suit for wrongful death on both her behalf and her minor son's behalf against Rice-Land, Larson, H& H, and their insurer. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment claiming statutory immunity under Louisiana's Recreational Use Immunity Statutes. A hearing on the motion was held on January 27, 2014. Agreeing with Defendants, the trial court granted their motion for summary judgment and entered judgment in their favor. Christy then filed the present appeal.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT

On appeal, Christy contends that the granting of the motion for summary judgment in favor of Defendants was in error because there is a question of fact as to whether they are entitled to the immunity

Page 660

granted by the recreational use statutes. Christy does not deny that Defendants would qualify for immunity under the recreational use statutes. Christy makes three different arguments as to why summary judgment was inappropriate arguing that there are questions of fact as to whether Defendants are entitled to the protection of the recreational use statutes. She first argues that immunity protection afforded by the recreational use statutes does not apply because Defendants assumed a duty by adding additional safety obligations and requirements in the lease. H& H also included these safety obligations in its club hunting rules. Secondly, Christy claims that H& H knowingly allowed its members to violate these rules ...


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