Heard: April 3, 2019.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on August
case was heard by Susan E. Sullivan, J., on a motion for
Kristen Jay Patria for the plaintiffs.
P. Bodanza for the defendant.
Present: Milkey, Neyman, & Englander, JJ.
19, 2015, plaintiff Cynthia Gerante was at an indoor sports
facility in Orange watching her thirteen year old son play
dekhockey (an organized form of what is commonly known as
street hockey). After the game concluded, Gerante fell from
the bleachers and tore a ligament in her knee. She then
brought a personal injury action in Superior Court alleging
that the operator of the Orange facility, defendant 202
Sports Complex, LLC (202 Sports), negligently failed to
secure the bleachers properly. Gerante's husband joined
as a plaintiff to press a claim for loss of consortium. 202
Sports moved to dismiss the action on the ground that it was
immune from liability pursuant to G. L. c. 21, § 17C,
the so-called recreational use statute. Treating the motion
as one for summary judgment, a Superior Court judge ruled in
favor of 202 Sports and dismissed the
complaint. On the plaintiff's appeal, we affirm.
Orange facility is owned by the Hunt Family Trust (trust).
202 Sports operates the facility under an oral lease with the
trust, and the two entities have overlapping management, with
the trustee of the trust serving as a member of 202 Sports.
Without challenge by the plaintiffs, 202 Sports averred that
-- through its leasehold with the trust -- it "had an
interest in the dekhockey premises" in Orange.
member of 202 Sports is Chris Housser, who serves as
co-manager of that entity. Housser also is the president of
Leominster Dekhockey Center, Inc. (Leominster Dekhockey),
which operates a dekhockey facility in Leominster. In 2015,
he organized a dekhockey tournament to be played at various
"rinks," including those in both Leominster and
Orange. The plaintiffs paid a fee to Leominster Dekhockey so
that their son could participate in the tournament. The son
played goalie for a dekhockey team known as the Snipers.
19, 2015, tournament games were being hosted at the Orange
facility. Housser "personally supervised the setup of
the dekhockey rink at that location." Transportation was
not provided by the Snipers, the league, or either facility,
and therefore Gerante herself drove her son to the game. She
then stayed to watch the game, observing it from the top
level of the bleachers. Her complaint characterizes her role
there as that of a "spectator." An affidavit she
submitted in opposition to 202 Sports's motion
additionally averred that she "supervised" her son
at the game, without providing detail of what that meant. It
is undisputed that the Snipers had a coach and an assistant
coach, and that there were referees officiating the game.
were welcome at the dekhockey tournament held at the Orange
facility, and they were not charged an entrance fee to watch
the game. The only payment that Gerante alleges that she made
in connection with the Orange facility was the fee that she
and her husband paid to Leominster Dekhockey in order for
their son to play in the tournament.