Ed owns a 20-acre parcel of land in a rural area and keeps an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) there for his family’s use. The ATV, a motorized vehicle used for recreational purposes, is designed to travel on unpaved surfaces at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. Ed regularly permits his children to use the ATV unsupervised, including his 12-year-old son, Bill, who has done so on many occasions without incident. Passengers ride the ATV by holding onto the waist of the operator. An unimproved dirt trail runs through Ed’s property and extends across multiple adjoining properties, including a 30-acre property immediately adjacent to Ed’s property, owned by Ward, a farmer. The dirt trail is used by Ed, his family, and various other users for recreational purposes, including hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobile/ATV operation.
One afternoon, Ed left Bill and his 11-year -old friend, Tom, alone at his property. Ed told Bill that while he was gone Bill could take Tom for a ride on the ATV, but only on Ed’s property. Bill initially rode the ATV with Tom as a passenger on his father’s property. Bill eventually became bored and decided to enter onto Ward’s property, despite “No Trespassing” signs on the perimeter of Ward’s property. A short distance later, Bill, traveling at an excessive speed, crossed a ditch in the trail, which caused the ATV to flip over and land on Tom, who sustained serious injuries in the accident. Ward had created the ditch several years earlier to promote the drainage of surface water from his field to a nearby stream. Although Ward did not place any warnings on the trail to alert users to the ditch, he had made it shallower at the location where it crossed the trailand periodically checked its depth.
Tom, through his guardian, commenced an action against Ed and Ward seeking damages for his injuries. The complaint alleged the above relevant facts. In his first cause of action against Ed, Tom alleged that Ed negligently supervised Bill. In his second cause of action against Ed, Tom alleged that Ed negligently entrusted Bill with a dangerous instrument, i.e., the ATV. In a cause of action against Ward, Tom alleged that Ward had created a dangerous condition on the property, which he failed to adequately warn against. After discovery was complete, Ward moved for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint by Tom on the grounds that (a) he owed no duty of care to Tom as a matter of law because Tom was a trespasser on his property and, in any event, (b) he is immune from liability to Tom for negligence on the facts alleged in the complaint. Ed also filed a motion seeking summary judgment to dismiss the complaint by Tom on the grounds that the allegations of (c) negligent supervision and (d) negligent entrustment of a dangerous instrument fail to state cognizable causes of action under New York law. The court denied both Ward’s and Ed’s motions, and the case proceeded to trial. After finding both defendants negligent, the jury awarded Tom damages of $1,000,000 for his pain and suffering, and it apportioned liability 40% to Ward and 60% to Ed.
1. Did the court properly deny Ward’s motion on grounds (a) and (b)?
2. Did the court properly deny Ed’s motion on grounds (c) and (d)?
3. Assuming that Ward’s and Ed’s motions were properly denied, what is
the maximum amount Tom may recover from each of Ward and Ed?