SCRAPCHANSKY v. PLAINFIELD

14655

226 Conn. 446 (1993) | Cited 23 times | Supreme Court of Connecticut | July 13, 1993

The plaintiff, Michael Scrapchansky,brought this action against the defendants, the townof Plainfield (town) and the Plainfield board of education(board), for personal injuries suffered while playingin an American Legion baseball game on a fieldowned by the town and controlled by the board. Thetrial court granted the defendants' motion for summaryjudgment, ruling that, pursuant to the ConnecticutRecreational Land Use Act (act); General Statutes52-557f through 52-557i;1 the defendants were

[226 Conn. 448]

     immune from liability for the plaintiff's injuries. Theplaintiff appealed from the judgment of the trial courtto the Appellate Court, and we transferred the appealto this court pursuant to Practice Book 4023 and GeneralStatutes 51-199 (c). On appeal, the plaintiff claimsthat the trial court improperly granted the defendants'

[226 Conn. 449]

     motion for summary judgment because: (1) the defendantshad not made the field "available to the public"within the meaning of 52-557g (a); and (2) an organizedleague baseball game is not a "recreational purpose"as that term is used in 52-557f (4). We affirmthe judgment of the trial court.

The relevant facts are as follows. On June 22, 1986,while chasing a batted ball, the plaintiff ran into a stonewall that bordered the baseball field. As a result, hesuffered various personal injuries. At the time of theaccident, the plaintiff was a member of the Danielson/MoosupAmerican Legion baseball team, and wasplaying center field in a league game. The field on whichhe was injured is adjacent to the Plainfield High School.It is owned by the town and controlled by the board.Since 1973, the town had permitted the AmericanLegion team to use the field without charge, fee, orrent, whenever school was not in session.

The plaintiff's complaint alleged that the defendantswere liable for his injuries under theories of both negligenceand nuisance. The defendants moved for summaryjudgment on the ground that they were immunefrom liability under the act. The trial court granted thedefendants' motion for summary judgment, concludingthat the act rendered the defendants immune fromsuit because the field on which the plaintiff had beeninjured had been made "available to the public without

[226 Conn. 450]

     charge, rent [or] fee" within the meaning of52-557g (a), and because a baseball game constituteda "recreational purpose" pursuant to 52-557f (4).

I

The plaintiff first claims that the defendants failedto make the field "available to the public" as contemplatedby 52-557g of the act because there wererestrictions on its use. The plaintiff argues that becausethe defendants did not make the field "available to thepublic," they were not entitled to the immunityafforded by the act and the trial court, therefore, hadimproperly granted the defendants' motion for summaryjudgment. We disagree.

Practice Book 384 provides that summary judgment"shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, affidavitsand any other proof submitted show that thereis no genuine issue as to any material fact and that themoving party is entitled to judgment as a matter oflaw." See Connecticut Bank & Trust Co. v. CarriageLane Associates, 219 Conn. 772, 780-81, 595 A.2d 908(1980). "Once the moving party has presented evidencein support of the motion for summary judgment, theopposing party must present evidence that demonstratesthe existence of some disputed factualissue . . . . It is not enough, however, for the opposingparty merely to assert the existence of such a disputedissue. `Mere assertions of fact . . . areinsufficient to establish the existence of a material factand, therefore, cannot refute evidence properly presentedto the court . . . .'" (Citations omitted.) Burnsv. Hartford Hospital, 192 Conn. 451, 455,472 A.2d 1257 (1984). We recognize that "[i]n deciding a motionfor summary judgment, the trial court must view theevidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovingparty." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) ConnecticutBank & Trust Co. v. Carriage Lane Associates,supra, 781.

[226 Conn. 451]

Section 52-557g (a) provides in relevant part: "[A]nowner of land who makes all or any part of the landavailable to the public without charge, rent, fee or othercommercial service for recreational purposes owes noduty of care to keep the land, or the part thereof somade available, safe for entry or use by others forrecreational purposes, or to give any warning of a dangerouscondition, use, structure or activity on the landto persons entering for recreational purposes."(Emphasis added.)

Before the trial court, it was undisputed that, in orderto prevail on their motion for summary judgment, thedefendants, the owners2 of the ball field, were requiredby 52-557g (a) to have made the field "available tothe public" for recreational purposes. Manning v.Barenz, 221 Conn. 256, 260, 603 A.2d 399 (1992). Insupport of their motion, the defendants presented theaffidavit of Albert DePetrillo, superintendent of theboard, who stated that the high school playing field wasmade available to the public for recreational purposeswithout fee, charge or rent. In response, the plaintiffpresented evidence that restrictions applied to the public'suse of the field. In particular, the plaintiff presentedexcerpts from the transcript of the depositiontaken of DePetrillo, wherein DePetrillo had stated thatthe field was available to the public only when schoolwas not in session and that any team desiring to usethe field was required to obtain permission to do so inorder to avoid scheduling conflicts with another event.

The plaintiff argues on appeal that by limiting theuse of the field to times when school was not in sessionand by requiring permission for its use, the defendants

[226 Conn. 452]

     did not make the field "available to the public"in the manner contemplated by 52-557g. The plaintifffurther contends that by permitting scheduledleague games to occupy the playing field at a giventime, the defendants necessarily excluded the concurrentuse of the field by others, thereby contraveningthe purpose of the act to make recreational land availableto the public. In support of his argument, the plaintiffcites to the legislative history of the act, claimingthat the legislature envisioned that immunity from liabilityunder the act would only be afforded to landownerswho "allow their property to be used for theentire citizenry." 14 H.R. Proc., Pt. 4, 1971 Sess.,p. 1806, remarks of Representative David Lavine.

Although the purpose of the act is to make land accessiblefor recreational use by the public, nothing in thelanguage of 52-557g (a) mandates that land, in orderto be "available to the public" under the act, must beopen in its entirety to everyone simultaneously. InGenco v. Connecticut Light & Power Co., 7 Conn. App. 164,508 A.2d 58 (1986), it was held that signs postedby the owner of a lake that expressly restricted the useof the lake in certain locations did not make the landunavailable to the public. Stated differently, the word"public" in 52-557g (a) does not require that recreationalland be made available to all members of the publicat all times in order to provide a landowner withimmunity from liability. "For an area to be `open topublic use' it does not have to be open to `everybodyall the time.' State ex rel. Anderson v. Witthaus,340 Mo. 1004, 1011, 102 S.W.2d 99 (1937); see alsoPeachtree on Peachtree Inn, Inc. v. Camp, 120 Ga. App. 403,410, 170 S.E.2d 709 (1969); Commissioner v.Baughman, 357 Pa. Super. 535, 538, 516 A.2d 390(1986), appeal denied, 515 Pa. 572, 527 A.2d 534(1987)." State v. Boucher, 207 Conn. 612, 615,541 A.2d 865 (1988). The evidence presented by the defendants

[226 Conn. 453]

     in support of their motion for summary judgmentclearly demonstrated that, given certain reasonablerestrictions, any group or member of the public wasentitled to use the baseball field. The fact that the public'suse of the field was limited to the times when schoolwas not in session, or by the obvious fact that only twoteams could play baseball on the same field at the sametime, does not mean the field was not "available to thepublic" under 52-557g (a). See id. The imposed restrictionsmerely served to permit the orderly use of thefield. Without restrictions, as the trial court noted, thedefendants would have had to sanction a "free for all"in order to be entitled to immunity under the statute,a result clearly not contemplated by 52-557g (a).

The plaintiff's suggested interpretation of 52-557g,that there must be no restrictions on the public's useof land in order for land to be covered by the act, albeitideal, is impractical given the realities of recreationalland use planning. "[P]rinciples of statutory construction. . . require us to construe a statute in a mannerthat will not thwart its intended purpose or leadto absurd results." Turner v. Turner, 219 Conn. 703,712, 595 A.2d 297 (1991). "We must avoid a constructionthat fails to attain a rational and sensible resultthat bears directly on the purpose the legislature soughtto achieve. Peck v. Jacquemin, 196 Conn. 53, 63-64,491 A.2d 1043 (1985)." Id., 713. Not all land made availableto the public for recreational use consists of limitlessexpanses which the entire public can enjoy at thesame time. The owners of public and private land, lakes,ponds, parks, playgrounds, and playing fields acrossthe state obviously need the ability to place reasonablerestrictions on the use of their property in order toinduce them to make their land available for the enjoymentof the public. Without the ability to impose somerestrictions, the owners of land desirable for recreationalpurposes would be loath to make it available for

[226 Conn. 454]

     public use for fear that the use would be unmanageable.The plaintiff's interpretation of the act would invitechaos and would undermine its purpose of providingan incentive to landowners to allow their land to be usedby the public for recreational purposes.3 For instance,any landowner considering allowing public use of hisproperty might think twice before doing so if he or shewere required to tolerate its use at all hours of the dayor night in order to be entitled to immunity from liability.The legislature, in enacting 52-557g (a), musthave contemplated reasonable restrictions on the public'suse of land covered by the statute. Because theplaintiff does not claim that the restrictions imposedby the defendants on the use of their land were unreasonable,their land was "available to the public" as contemplatedby the act.

II

The plaintiff next claims that because the activityengaged in, a league baseball game, was not a "recreationalpurpose" as contemplated by 52-557f (4), thetrial court improperly granted the defendants' motionfor summary judgment. We disagree.

Section 52-557f (4) provides that: "`Recreational purpose'includes, but is not limited to, any of the following,or any combination thereof: Hunting, fishing,swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasuredriving, nature study, water skiing, snow skiing,ice skating, sledding, hang gliding, sport parachuting,hot air ballooning and viewing or enjoying historical,archaeological, scenic or scientific sites." (Emphasisadded.)

[226 Conn. 455]

The plaintiff contends that the absence of any referenceto organized team sports in 52-557f (4) indicatesthat the legislature did not intend to include a leaguebaseball game within its definition of "recreational purpose."The plaintiff acknowledges that the recreationalpurposes enumerated in 52-557f (4) are expresslystated not to be exclusive. Relying on the doctrine ofejusdem generis, however, he points out that the statutorylist yields two common characteristics that anyactivity must possess in order to be properly regardedas "recreational" under 52-557f (4). These characteristicsare that the activity: (1) must be regularlyengaged in on an informal, unstructured basis; and(2) entail the use or enjoyment of land in its naturalstate. The plaintiff maintains that because a leaguebaseball game possesses neither of these characteristics,it cannot be regarded as a "recreational purpose"under 52-557f (4).

"According to the [doctrine] of ejusdem generis,unless a contrary intent appears, where general termsare followed by specific terms in a statute, the generalterms will be construed to embrace things of the samegeneral kind or character as those specifically enumerated.2A J. Sutherland, Statutory Construction (4th Ed.Sands [1986]) 47.17." State v. Russell, 218 Conn. 273,278, 588 A.2d 1376 (1991). The application of this doctrineto the list of recreational purposes in 52-557f (4)does not persuade us, however, that the legislatureintended to exclude other more popular and more obviousrecreational activities, many of which are engagedin as team sports, from furnishing immunity from liabilityto landowners who provide the public with freefacilities for their enjoyment. Nothing in the act specificallymanifests such an intention or specificallyordains that it was meant to apply only to individual,informal activities. If the legislature had desired toexclude organized activities and team sports from the

[226 Conn. 456]

     purview of the statute, it would seem logical that itwould have done so explicitly. In fact, swimming, iceskating and skiing, which are all listed in the statute,frequently lend themselves to team competition. Moreover,many of the other activities mentioned are oftenengaged in on a scheduled, competitive or structuredbasis. The interpretation of the term "recreational purpose"urged by the plaintiff would therefore excludeactivities actually enumerated in the statute as "recreationalpurpose[s]" merely because they possessed a certainlevel of organization, a result not likely to havebeen intended by the legislature.

The definition of "recreational purpose" in 52-557f (4),which in reality is simply a nonexclusive list of leisureactivities, was originally drawn from a model actpromulgated by the Council of State Governments. See24 Council of State Governments, "Public Recreationon Private Lands: Limitations on Liability," SuggestedState Legislation (1965), pp. 150-52.4 Neither theprefatory remarks accompanying the model act, norConnecticut's own legislative history, sheds light on themeaning to be attributed to the statute's use of enumeratedexamples and its "not limited to" language. Weconclude, however, that the enumerated list serves onlyto denote a variety of activities, some of which arerather unique and not ordinarily characterized as recreational,that the General Assembly legislated should beregarded as recreational for purposes of the act. Thelist was not intended to exclude sports, such as baseball,that are universally recognized as recreational.

[226 Conn. 457]

In summary, we conclude that the list of activitiesenumerated in 52-557f (4) is not exclusive and "is notlimited to" those activities listed. Recreational activitiesnaturally arise from the desires and preferencesof the person who is enticed away from the troublesand toil of the workaday world and who is drawn tothe outdoors to partake of an activity that is pleasantfor its own sake. Had the legislature intended to includeas "recreational purpose[s]" only those activitiesenumerated in the statute and similar activities, andthen only if conducted in an informal manner, it wouldhave slighted the recreational preferences of a largeportion of the population. Team sports are certainlyrecreational and no less so if teams are organized intoa league. As the late A. Bartlett Giamatti commented,"sports are in today's world what they were in yesterday'svery different one - a shared moment of leisure."A. Giamatti, Take Time for Paradise: Americans andTheir Games (1989), pp. 14-15.5 Because an amateursport is organized and played by teams does not depriveit of its recreational qualities.6 To conclude otherwisewould be to impose an overly restrictive meaning on

[226 Conn. 458]

     the term "recreational purpose" in the statute, a meaningthat is not warranted by the "includes, but is notlimited to" language of 52-557f (4).7

The plaintiff next contends that a common characteristicdistilled from the listed recreational purposesin 52-557f (4) is that the activity must involve the useof a particular type of land, i.e., woodland, fields, lakesor other undeveloped open spaces. There is, however,nothing in the plain language of the statute to indicatethat the only land to which the act applies is land inits natural state. The word "land" is broadly definedin 52-557f (2), which provides that: "`Land' meansland, roads, water, watercourses, private ways andbuildings, structures, and machinery or equipmentwhen attached to the realty . . . ." Moreover, in Manningv. Barenz, supra, 261-62, we concluded that thelandowner was entitled to immunity despite the factthat the accident took place, not in the forest primeval,but in a municipal park, owned and developed bythe municipality and supervised by municipalemployees.

Although the act, as originally passed, appeared toprovide immunity primarily to owners of large tractsof land, a subsequent amendment to 52-557g (a) indicatesthat the size of the land is not a relevant considerationin terms of the coverage provided by the act.Originally, General Statutes (Rev. to 1972) 52-557g (a)read: "Except as provided in section 52-557h, an ownerof five or more acres of land who makes such land available to thepublic without charge . . . owes no duty of care . . . ." In 1973,the legislature amended the statute by deleting the phrase "five

[226 Conn. 459]

     or more acres of land" and substituting "all or any part ofthe land" made available to the public. Public Acts 1973, No.73-70. The amendment clearly indicated that the sizeof the land made available to the public for recreationalpurposes would not limit the scope of the immunity provided.

The plaintiff, despite Manning and the 1973 amendmentto the act, nonetheless argues that the landintended to be covered by the act was that preservedin its pristine state. Turning to the legislative historyof the act, the plaintiff argues that the focus of the actwas on "enjoyment of the rural life in Connecticut."14 H.R. Proc., Pt. 4, 1971 Sess., p. 1805, remarks ofRepresentative David Lavine. Consequently, the scopeof the act, according to the plaintiff, was not intendedto include improved land in suburban or urban settings.The plaintiff further maintains that by expanding thescope of the act to apply to any tract of land, even thosein urban and residential areas, it will encourage ownersof such land, including municipalities, to manageand supervise their properties negligently. Consequently,the plaintiff suggests that, although the actmay encourage landowners to open up their lands tothe public for recreational uses, it will also unfairlycloak landowners with immunity from liability andbecome a formidable hurdle to the recovery of damagesin instances where the land involved feasibly couldhave been supervised and made safe.

Courts> in other jurisdictions are divided on whethertheir state's recreational land use acts apply when injuriesoccur on smaller improved tracts of land. See Gibsonv. Keith, 492 A.2d 241, 244 (Del. 1985) ("we find[the act] not applicable to urban or residential areasimproved with swimming pools, tennis courts>, and thelike"); Herring v. Hauck, 118 Ga. App. 623,165 S.E.2d 198 (1968) (act not applicable to backyards or vacantlots in residential areas); O'Connell v. Forest Hill Field

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     Club, 119 N.J. Super. 317, 291 A.2d 386 (1972) (act wasdetermined not to apply to a public golf course); Tijerinav. Cornelius Christian Church, 273 Or. 58,539 P.2d 634 (1975) (act held not to be applicable to a threeacre ball diamond adjacent to a suburban church);Kucher v. Pierce County, 24 Wash. App. 281, 288,600 P.2d 683 (1979) (act not applicable to park because itwas "improved, routinely inspected, and . . . insidethe city of Tacoma"). Compare Rodrigue v. Fireman'sFund Ins. Co., 449 So.2d 1042 (La. 1984) (act appliedto unsafe bleachers at a playground); Pratt v. State,408 So.2d 336 (La. App. 1981), cert. denied, 412 So.2d 1098(La. 1982) (act applied to drowning at lake adjacentto recreational area); Watson v. Omaha, 209 Neb. 835,312 N.W.2d 256 (1981) (act applied to slippery slidelocated at a park); Martinez v. Harris County,808 S.W.2d 257 (Tex. App. 1991) (act applied to playgroundequipment).

Our decision in Manning v. Barenz, supra, however,settled the question in Connecticut of whether the actaffords immunity from liability for negligence or nuisanceto a municipality for an injury suffered on townland developed as a playground. In Manning, we heldthat the town of Bloomfield was immune from liabilityfor a serious injury suffered by a two year old boywhen the lid of a heavy metal storage box at a townowned park fell on his thumb.8 Having determined that

[226 Conn. 461]

     the field on which the plaintiff was injured was "availableto the public" and that a league baseball game isa "recreational purpose," we can see no discernibledifference between the present case and Manning.Manning dictates that the defendants here wereentitled to immunity from liability pursuant to the actfor the plaintiff's injuries.

The judgment is affirmed.

In this opinion BORDEN and NORCOTT, Js., concurred.

1. "[General Statutes] Sec. 52-557f. LANDOWNER LIABILITY FORRECREATIONAL USE OF LAND. DEFINITIONS. As used in sections 52-557f to52-557i, inclusive: "(1) `Charge' means the admission price or fee asked in return forinvitation or permission to enter or go upon the land; "(2) `Land' means land, roads, water, watercourses, private ways andbuildings, structures, and machinery or equipment when attached to therealty; "(3) `Owner' means the possessor of a fee interest, a tenant, lessee,occupant or person in control of the premises; "(4) `Recreational purpose' includes, but is not limited to, any of thefollowing, or any combination thereof: Hunting, fishing, swimming, boating,camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, nature study, water skiing,snow skiing, ice skating, sledding, hang gliding, sport parachuting, hot airballooning and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic orscientific sites." "[General Statutes] Sec. 52-557g. LIABILITY OF OWNER OF LAND AVAILABLETO PUBLIC FOR RECREATION; EXCEPTIONS. (a) Except as provided insection 52-557h, an owner of land who makes all or any part of the landavailable to the public without charge, rent, fee or other commercialservice for recreational purposes owes no duty of care to keep the land, orthe part thereof so made available, safe for entry or use by others forrecreational purposes, or to give any warning of a dangerous condition,use, structure or activity on the land to persons entering forrecreational purposes. "(b) Except as provided in section 52-557h, an owner of land who, eitherdirectly or indirectly, invites or permits without charge, rent, fee orother commercial service any person to use the land, or part thereof, forrecreational purposes does not thereby: (1) Make any representation thatthe premises are safe for any purpose; (2) confer upon the person whoenters or uses the land for recreational purposes the legal status of aninvitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed; or (3) assumeresponsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or propertycaused by an act or omission of the owner. "(c) Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the provisions of subsections(a) and (b) of this section shall be deemed applicable to the duties andliability of an owner of land leased to the state or any subdivisionthereof for recreational purposes." "[General Statutes] Sec. 52-557h. OWNER LIABLE, WHEN. Nothing in sections52-557f to 52-557i, inclusive, limits in any way the liability of any ownerof land which otherwise exists: (1) For wilful or malicious failure to guardor warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity; (2) forinjury suffered in any case where the owner of land charges the personor persons who enter or go on the land for the recreational use thereofexcept that, in the case of land leased to the state or a subdivisionthereof any consideration received by the owner for the lease shall notbe deemed a charge within the meaning of this section." "[General Statutes] Sec. 52-557i. OBLIGATION OF USER OF LAND. Nothingin sections 52-557f to 52-557i, inclusive, shall be construed to relieveany person using the land of another for recreational purposes from anyobligation which he may have in the absence of said sections to exercisecare in his use of such land and in his activities thereon, or from thelegal consequences of failure to employ such care."

2. The term owner is broadly defined by General Statutes 52-557f(3), which provides: "`Owner' means the possessor of a fee interest, atenant, lessee, occupant or person in control of the premises." It wasundisputed that both the town and the board were considered owners ofthe land. See Manning v. Barenz, 221 Conn. 256, 259, 603 A.2d 399 (1992).

3. "[W]e have long depended and will continue to depend upon thegenerosity of private owners of land and water to open their property tothe use and enjoyment of their fellow citizens . . . . So this act here isto allow limited liability . . . of Connecticut property owners to opentheir land for public use without charge." 14 H.R. Proc., Pt. 4, 1971Sess., p. 1805, remarks of Representative David Lavine.

4. The model act provided in part: "Section 2. As used in thisact . . . (c) `Recreational purpose' includes, but is not limited to, anyof the following, or any combination thereof: hunting, fishing, swimming,boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, nature study,water skiing, winter sports, and viewing or enjoying historical,archaeological, scenic, or scientific sites." 24 Council of StateGovernments, "Public Recreation on Private Lands: Limitations onLiability," Suggested State Legislation (1965), p. 151.

5. Giamatti continued: "Sports represent a shared vision of how wecontinue, as individual, team, community to experience . . . happiness orabsence of care . . . and that under the rubric of leisure, sport - eitherwatched or played - has availed itself fully of whatever prestige accruesto shared activities that have no purpose except fully to be themselves."A. Giamatti, Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games (1989),pp. 14-15.

6. in other jurisdictions have directly and indirectlyinterpreted their recreational land use acts to apply to team sports, andin particular baseball. See, e.g., Page v. Louisville, 722 S.W.2d 60 (Ky.App. 1986) (injuries sustained when plaintiff stepped into hole on thefield); Anderson v. Springfield, 406 Mass. 632, 549 N.E.2d 1127 (1990)(injuries suffered on ball park because of defect in home plate); Millerv. Dayton, 42 Ohio St.3d 111, 537 N.E.2d 1294 (1989) (softball playerinjured while sliding into second base); see also Edwards v. Birmingham,447 So.2d 704 (Ala. 1984) (plaintiff was owed no duty of care when he wasinjured while playing baseball on a baseball field in a public park);Wiegand v. Mars National Bank, 454 A.2d 99 (Pa. Super. 1982) (injuriessustained while playing football on an empty lot).

7. In Manning v. Barenz, 221 Conn. 256, 260, 603 A.2d 399 (1992),the plaintiff, who was only two years old at the time of the accident,was obviously not engaged in any specific "recreational purpose" asenumerated in the statute.

8. That our decision in Manning v. Barenz, 221 Conn. 256,603 A.2d 399 (1992), applied the act to municipalities is notinconsistent with many state that have applied their recreationaluse acts to public owners. See, e.g., Stone Mountain Memorial Assn. v.Herrington, 225 Ga. 746, 171 S.E.2d 521 (1969); Pratt v. State,408 So.2d 336 (La. App. 1981), cert. denied, 412 So.2d 1098(La. 1982); Watson v. Omaha, 209 Neb. 835, 312 N.W.2d 256 (1981);Trimblett v. State, 156 N.J. Super. 291, 383 A.2d 1146 (1977); Sega v.State, 60 N.Y.2d 183, 456 N.E.2d 1174, 469 N.Y.S.2d 51 (1983). Legislationin several states has also explicitly extended their states' recreationaluse acts to public owners. See, e.g., Ala. Code 35-15-21 (1) (1991) (owneris "[a]ny public or private organization . . . any federal, State, orlocal political subdivision or any agency"); Colo. Rev. Stat. 33-41-102(3) (1984) (owner includes "any public entity as defined in the `ColoradoGovernmental Immunity Act' . . . which has an interest in land"); IdahoCode 36-1604 (b)(1) (Sup. 1992) ("`[l]and' means private or public land,roads, trails, water, watercourses . . . private or public ways"); OhioRev. Code Ann. 1533.18(A) (Baldwin 1990) (premises include "allstate-owned lands"); Wash. Rev. Code Ann. 4.24.210 (West 1988) (extendsto "[a]ny public or private landowners").

9. G. Thompson & M. Dettmer, "Trespassing on the Recreational UserStatute," 61 Mich. B.J. 726 (1982).

10. The model act provided in part: PUBLIC RECREATION ON PRIVATE LANDS: LIMITATIONS ON LIABILITY . . . "Section 1. The purpose of this act is to encourage owners of land to makeland and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes bylimiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes. "Section 2. As used in this act: "(a) `Land' means land, roads, water, watercourses, private ways andbuildings, structures, and machinery or equipment when attached to therealty. "(b) `Owner' means the possessor of a fee interest, a tenant, lessee,occupant or person in control of the premises. "(c) `Recreational purpose' includes, but is not limited to, any of thefollowing, or any combination thereof: hunting, fishing, swimming, boating,camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, nature study, water skiing,winter sports, and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic,or scientific sites. "(d) `Charge' means the admission price or fee asked in return forinvitation or permission to enter or go upon the land "Section 3. Except as specifically recognized by or provided in Section6 of this act, an owner of land owes no duty of care to keep the premisessafe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes, or to give anywarning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on suchpremises to persons entering for such purposes. "Section 4. Except as specifically recognized by or provided in Section6 of this act, an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites orpermits without charge any person to use such property for recreationalpurposes does not thereby: "(a) Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose. "(b) Confer upon such person the legal status of an invitee or licenseeto whom a duty of care is owed. "(c) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to personor property caused by an act of omission of such persons. "Section 5. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the provisions of Sections3 and 4 of this act shall be deemed applicable to the duties and liabilityof an owner of land leased to the state or any subdivision thereof forrecreational purposes. "Section 6. Nothing in this act limits in any way any liability whichotherwise exists: "(a) For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerouscondition, use, structure, or activity. "(b) For injury suffered in any case where the owner of land charges theperson or persons who enter or go on the land for the recreational usethereof, except that in the case of land leased to the state or asubdivision thereof, any consideration received by the owner for suchlease shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of this section. "Section 7. Nothing in this act shall be construed to: "(a) Create a duty of care or ground of liability for injury to persons orproperty. "(b) Relieve any person using the land of another for recreationalpurposes from any obligation which he may have in the absence of this actto exercise care in his use of such land and in his activities thereon, orfrom the legal consequences of failure to employ such care. "Section 8. [Insert effective date.]" 24 Council of State Governments,"Public Recreation on Private Lands: Limitations on Liability," SuggestedState Legislation (1965), pp. 150-52.

11. Public Acts 1967, No. 623.

12. Connecticut's statute, like those of many other states, had itsgenesis in the model act. G. Thompson & M. Dettmer, "Trespassing on theRecreational User Statute," 61 Mich. B.J. 726 (1982). The introductorystatement of the reasons for the model act is therefore entitled toconsideration. The preamble provides: "Recent years have seen a growingawareness of the need for additional recreational areas to serve thegeneral public. The acquisition and operation of outdoor recreationalfacilities by governmental units is on the increase. However, largeacreages of private land could add to the outdoor recreation resourcesavailable . . . . [I]n those instances where private owners are willing tomake their land available to members of the general public without charge,it is possible to argue that every reasonable encouragement should begiven to them. "In something less than one-third of the states, legislation has beenenacted limiting the liability of private owners who make their premisesavailable for one or more public recreational uses. This is done on thetheory that it is not reasonable to expect such owners to undergo the risksof liability for injury to persons and property attendant upon the use oftheir land by strangers from whom the accommodating owner receives nocompensation or other favor in return. "The suggested act which follows is designed to encourage availabilityof private lands . . . ." 24 Council of State Governments, "PublicRecreation on Private Lands: Limitations on Liability," Suggested StateLegislation (1965), p. 150.

13. It was also remarked before the Senate that "this is animportant bill. And will probably do more to open up land to recreationpurposes without the expenditure of a single penny on the part of thestate." 14 S. Proc., Pt. 4, 1971 Sess., p. 1679, remarks of SenatorRoger W. Eddy.

14. Because immunity conferred by General Statutes 52-557g is inderogation of the common law, it should be strictly construed toeffectuate its intended purpose. McKinley v. Musshorn, 185 Conn. 616,621, 441 A.2d 600 (1981).

15. At common law a municipality was generally immune from liabilityfor its tortious acts. Ryszkiewicz v. New Britain, 193 Conn. 589, 593,479 A.2d 793 (1984). Its employees had a qualified immunity in theperformance of a governmental duty. If an employee misperformed aministerial act, he was potentially liable; if, however, he misperformeda discretionary act, he was immune from liability subject to threeexceptions. Evon v. Andrews, 211 Conn. 501, 505, 559 A.2d 1131(1989). General Statutes 52-557n, enacted as part of tort reform in1986; Public Act 1986, 86-338, 13; was "intended, in a general sense, bothto codify and to limit municipal liability . . . ." Sanzone v. Board ofPolice Commissioners, 219 Conn. 179, 188, 592 A.2d 912 (1991).In 1971, when the act was enacted; Public Acts 1971, No. 249; as well asin 1967, immunity for municipalities was alive and well. Accordingly,there was even less incentive to craft the act in order to grant immunityto an entity that was already protected in order to supplement availablerecreational land. We have often stated that we will not assume the legislature enactedlegislation that serves no useful purpose. Hartford Electric Light Co. v.Water Resources Commission, 162 Conn. 89, 99, 291 A.2d 721 (1971); Anthonyv. Administrator, 158 Conn. 556, 565, 265 A.2d 61 (1969). Furthermore,if a statute is susceptible to an interpretation by which such a consequencecan be avoided, that interpretation will be found. Hartford Electric LightCo. v. Water Resources Commission, supra.

16. Although we look to legislative inaction following a decision bythis court to signify its acquiescence in our interpretation of aparticular section; see e.g., Scheyd v. Bezrucik, 205 Conn. 495, 506-507,535 A.2d 793 (1987); the ink on Manning v. Barenz, 221 Conn. 256,603 A.2d 399 (1992), has barely dried. I, therefore, hesitate to drawany conclusion from the lack of legislative response to this

The plaintiff, Michael Scrapchansky,brought this action against the defendants, the townof Plainfield (town) and the Plainfield board of education(board), for personal injuries suffered while playingin an American Legion baseball game on a fieldowned by the town and controlled by the board. Thetrial court granted the defendants' motion for summaryjudgment, ruling that, pursuant to the ConnecticutRecreational Land Use Act (act); General Statutes52-557f through 52-557i;1 the defendants were

[226 Conn. 448]

     immune from liability for the plaintiff's injuries. Theplaintiff appealed from the judgment of the trial courtto the Appellate Court, and we transferred the appealto this court pursuant to Practice Book 4023 and GeneralStatutes 51-199 (c). On appeal, the plaintiff claimsthat the trial court improperly granted the defendants'

[226 Conn. 449]

     motion for summary judgment because: (1) the defendantshad not made the field "available to the public"within the meaning of 52-557g (a); and (2) an organizedleague baseball game is not a "recreational purpose"as that term is used in 52-557f (4). We affirmthe judgment of the trial court.

The relevant facts are as follows. On June 22, 1986,while chasing a batted ball, the plaintiff ran into a stonewall that bordered the baseball field. As a result, hesuffered various personal injuries. At the time of theaccident, the plaintiff was a member of the Danielson/MoosupAmerican Legion baseball team, and wasplaying center field in a league game. The field on whichhe was injured is adjacent to the Plainfield High School.It is owned by the town and controlled by the board.Since 1973, the town had permitted the AmericanLegion team to use the field without charge, fee, orrent, whenever school was not in session.

The plaintiff's complaint alleged that the defendantswere liable for his injuries under theories of both negligenceand nuisance. The defendants moved for summaryjudgment on the ground that they were immunefrom liability under the act. The trial court granted thedefendants' motion for summary judgment, concludingthat the act rendered the defendants immune fromsuit because the field on which the plaintiff had beeninjured had been made "available to the public without

[226 Conn. 450]

     charge, rent [or] fee" within the meaning of52-557g (a), and because a baseball game constituteda "recreational purpose" pursuant to 52-557f (4).

I

The plaintiff first claims that the defendants failedto make the field "available to the public" as contemplatedby 52-557g of the act because there wererestrictions on its use. The plaintiff argues that becausethe defendants did not make the field "available to thepublic," they were not entitled to the immunityafforded by the act and the trial court, therefore, hadimproperly granted the defendants' motion for summaryjudgment. We disagree.

Practice Book 384 provides that summary judgment"shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, affidavitsand any other proof submitted show that thereis no genuine issue as to any material fact and that themoving party is entitled to judgment as a matter oflaw." See Connecticut Bank & Trust Co. v. CarriageLane Associates, 219 Conn. 772, 780-81, 595 A.2d 908(1980). "Once the moving party has presented evidencein support of the motion for summary judgment, theopposing party must present evidence that demonstratesthe existence of some disputed factualissue . . . . It is not enough, however, for the opposingparty merely to assert the existence of such a disputedissue. `Mere assertions of fact . . . areinsufficient to establish the existence of a material factand, therefore, cannot refute evidence properly presentedto the court . . . .'" (Citations omitted.) Burnsv. Hartford Hospital, 192 Conn. 451, 455,472 A.2d 1257 (1984). We recognize that "[i]n deciding a motionfor summary judgment, the trial court must view theevidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovingparty." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) ConnecticutBank & Trust Co. v. Carriage Lane Associates,supra, 781.

[226 Conn. 451]

Section 52-557g (a) provides in relevant part: "[A]nowner of land who makes all or any part of the landavailable to the public without charge, rent, fee or othercommercial service for recreational purposes owes noduty of care to keep the land, or the part thereof somade available, safe for entry or use by others forrecreational purposes, or to give any warning of a dangerouscondition, use, structure or activity on the landto persons entering for recreational purposes."(Emphasis added.)

Before the trial court, it was undisputed that, in orderto prevail on their motion for summary judgment, thedefendants, the owners2 of the ball field, were requiredby 52-557g (a) to have made the field "available tothe public" for recreational purposes. Manning v.Barenz, 221 Conn. 256, 260, 603 A.2d 399 (1992). Insupport of their motion, the defendants presented theaffidavit of Albert DePetrillo, superintendent of theboard, who stated that the high school playing field wasmade available to the public for recreational purposeswithout fee, charge or rent. In response, the plaintiffpresented evidence that restrictions applied to the public'suse of the field. In particular, the plaintiff presentedexcerpts from the transcript of the depositiontaken of DePetrillo, wherein DePetrillo had stated thatthe field was available to the public only when schoolwas not in session and that any team desiring to usethe field was required to obtain permission to do so inorder to avoid scheduling conflicts with another event.

The plaintiff argues on appeal that by limiting theuse of the field to times when school was not in sessionand by requiring permission for its use, the defendants

[226 Conn. 452]

     did not make the field "available to the public"in the manner contemplated by 52-557g. The plaintifffurther contends that by permitting scheduledleague games to occupy the playing field at a giventime, the defendants necessarily excluded the concurrentuse of the field by others, thereby contraveningthe purpose of the act to make recreational land availableto the public. In support of his argument, the plaintiffcites to the legislative history of the act, claimingthat the legislature envisioned that immunity from liabilityunder the act would only be afforded to landownerswho "allow their property to be used for theentire citizenry." 14 H.R. Proc., Pt. 4, 1971 Sess.,p. 1806, remarks of Representative David Lavine.

Although the purpose of the act is to make land accessiblefor recreational use by the public, nothing in thelanguage of 52-557g (a) mandates that land, in orderto be "available to the public" under the act, must beopen in its entirety to everyone simultaneously. InGenco v. Connecticut Light & Power Co., 7 Conn. App. 164,508 A.2d 58 (1986), it was held that signs postedby the owner of a lake that expressly restricted the useof the lake in certain locations did not make the landunavailable to the public. Stated differently, the word"public" in 52-557g (a) does not require that recreationalland be made available to all members of the publicat all times in order to provide a landowner withimmunity from liability. "For an area to be `open topublic use' it does not have to be open to `everybodyall the time.' State ex rel. Anderson v. Witthaus,340 Mo. 1004, 1011, 102 S.W.2d 99 (1937); see alsoPeachtree on Peachtree Inn, Inc. v. Camp, 120 Ga. App. 403,410, 170 S.E.2d 709 (1969); Commissioner v.Baughman, 357 Pa. Super. 535, 538, 516 A.2d 390(1986), appeal denied, 515 Pa. 572, 527 A.2d 534(1987)." State v. Boucher, 207 Conn. 612, 615,541 A.2d 865 (1988). The evidence presented by the defendants

[226 Conn. 453]

     in support of their motion for summary judgmentclearly demonstrated that, given certain reasonablerestrictions, any group or member of the public wasentitled to use the baseball field. The fact that the public'suse of the field was limited to the times when schoolwas not in session, or by the obvious fact that only twoteams could play baseball on the same field at the sametime, does not mean the field was not "available to thepublic" under 52-557g (a). See id. The imposed restrictionsmerely served to permit the orderly use of thefield. Without restrictions, as the trial court noted, thedefendants would have had to sanction a "free for all"in order to be entitled to immunity under the statute,a result clearly not contemplated by 52-557g (a).

The plaintiff's suggested interpretation of 52-557g,that there must be no restrictions on the public's useof land in order for land to be covered by the act, albeitideal, is impractical given the realities of recreationalland use planning. "[P]rinciples of statutory construction. . . require us to construe a statute in a mannerthat will not thwart its intended purpose or leadto absurd results." Turner v. Turner, 219 Conn. 703,712, 595 A.2d 297 (1991). "We must avoid a constructionthat fails to attain a rational and sensible resultthat bears directly on the purpose the legislature soughtto achieve. Peck v. Jacquemin, 196 Conn. 53, 63-64,491 A.2d 1043 (1985)." Id., 713. Not all land made availableto the public for recreational use consists of limitlessexpanses which the entire public can enjoy at thesame time. The owners of public and private land, lakes,ponds, parks, playgrounds, and playing fields acrossthe state obviously need the ability to place reasonablerestrictions on the use of their property in order toinduce them to make their land available for the enjoymentof the public. Without the ability to impose somerestrictions, the owners of land desirable for recreationalpurposes would be loath to make it available for

[226 Conn. 454]

     public use for fear that the use would be unmanageable.The plaintiff's interpretation of the act would invitechaos and would undermine its purpose of providingan incentive to landowners to allow their land to be usedby the public for recreational purposes.3 For instance,any landowner considering allowing public use of hisproperty might think twice before doing so if he or shewere required to tolerate its use at all hours of the dayor night in order to be entitled to immunity from liability.The legislature, in enacting 52-557g (a), musthave contemplated reasonable restrictions on the public'suse of land covered by the statute. Because theplaintiff does not claim that the restrictions imposedby the defendants on the use of their land were unreasonable,their land was "available to the public" as contemplatedby the act.

II

The plaintiff next claims that because the activityengaged in, a league baseball game, was not a "recreationalpurpose" as contemplated by 52-557f (4), thetrial court improperly granted the defendants' motionfor summary judgment. We disagree.

Section 52-557f (4) provides that: "`Recreational purpose'includes, but is not limited to, any of the following,or any combination thereof: Hunting, fishing,swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasuredriving, nature study, water skiing, snow skiing,ice skating, sledding, hang gliding, sport parachuting,hot air ballooning and viewing or enjoying historical,archaeological, scenic or scientific sites." (Emphasisadded.)

[226 Conn. 455]

The plaintiff contends that the absence of any referenceto organized team sports in 52-557f (4) indicatesthat the legislature did not intend to include a leaguebaseball game within its definition of "recreational purpose."The plaintiff acknowledges that the recreationalpurposes enumerated in 52-557f (4) are expresslystated not to be exclusive. Relying on the doctrine ofejusdem generis, however, he points out that the statutorylist yields two common characteristics that anyactivity must possess in order to be properly regardedas "recreational" under 52-557f (4). These characteristicsare that the activity: (1) must be regularlyengaged in on an informal, unstructured basis; and(2) entail the use or enjoyment of land in its naturalstate. The plaintiff maintains that because a leaguebaseball game possesses neither of these characteristics,it cannot be regarded as a "recreational purpose"under 52-557f (4).

"According to the [doctrine] of ejusdem generis,unless a contrary intent appears, where general termsare followed by specific terms in a statute, the generalterms will be construed to embrace things of the samegeneral kind or character as those specifically enumerated.2A J. Sutherland, Statutory Construction (4th Ed.Sands [1986]) 47.17." State v. Russell, 218 Conn. 273,278, 588 A.2d 1376 (1991). The application of this doctrineto the list of recreational purposes in 52-557f (4)does not persuade us, however, that the legislatureintended to exclude other more popular and more obviousrecreational activities, many of which are engagedin as team sports, from furnishing immunity from liabilityto landowners who provide the public with freefacilities for their enjoyment. Nothing in the act specificallymanifests such an intention or specificallyordains that it was meant to apply only to individual,informal activities. If the legislature had desired toexclude organized activities and team sports from the

[226 Conn. 456]

     purview of the statute, it would seem logical that itwould have done so explicitly. In fact, swimming, iceskating and skiing, which are all listed in the statute,frequently lend themselves to team competition. Moreover,many of the other activities mentioned are oftenengaged in on a scheduled, competitive or structuredbasis. The interpretation of the term "recreational purpose"urged by the plaintiff would therefore excludeactivities actually enumerated in the statute as "recreationalpurpose[s]" merely because they possessed a certainlevel of organization, a result not likely to havebeen intended by the legislature.

The definition of "recreational purpose" in 52-557f (4),which in reality is simply a nonexclusive list of leisureactivities, was originally drawn from a model actpromulgated by the Council of State Governments. See24 Council of State Governments, "Public Recreationon Private Lands: Limitations on Liability," SuggestedState Legislation (1965), pp. 150-52.4 Neither theprefatory remarks accompanying the model act, norConnecticut's own legislative history, sheds light on themeaning to be attributed to the statute's use of enumeratedexamples and its "not limited to" language. Weconclude, however, that the enumerated list serves onlyto denote a variety of activities, some of which arerather unique and not ordinarily characterized as recreational,that the General Assembly legislated should beregarded as recreational for purposes of the act. Thelist was not intended to exclude sports, such as baseball,that are universally recognized as recreational.

[226 Conn. 457]

In summary, we conclude that the list of activitiesenumerated in 52-557f (4) is not exclusive and "is notlimited to" those activities listed. Recreational activitiesnaturally arise from the desires and preferencesof the person who is enticed away from the troublesand toil of the workaday world and who is drawn tothe outdoors to partake of an activity that is pleasantfor its own sake. Had the legislature intended to includeas "recreational purpose[s]" only those activitiesenumerated in the statute and similar activities, andthen only if conducted in an informal manner, it wouldhave slighted the recreational preferences of a largeportion of the population. Team sports are certainlyrecreational and no less so if teams are organized intoa league. As the late A. Bartlett Giamatti commented,"sports are in today's world what they were in yesterday'svery different one - a shared moment of leisure."A. Giamatti, Take Time for Paradise: Americans andTheir Games (1989), pp. 14-15.5 Because an amateursport is organized and played by teams does not depriveit of its recreational qualities.6 To conclude otherwisewould be to impose an overly restrictive meaning on

[226 Conn. 458]

     the term "recreational purpose" in the statute, a meaningthat is not warranted by the "includes, but is notlimited to" language of 52-557f (4).7

The plaintiff next contends that a common characteristicdistilled from the listed recreational purposesin 52-557f (4) is that the activity must involve the useof a particular type of land, i.e., woodland, fields, lakesor other undeveloped open spaces. There is, however,nothing in the plain language of the statute to indicatethat the only land to which the act applies is land inits natural state. The word "land" is broadly definedin 52-557f (2), which provides that: "`Land' meansland, roads, water, watercourses, private ways andbuildings, structures, and machinery or equipmentwhen attached to the realty . . . ." Moreover, in Manningv. Barenz, supra, 261-62, we concluded that thelandowner was entitled to immunity despite the factthat the accident took place, not in the forest primeval,but in a municipal park, owned and developed bythe municipality and supervised by municipalemployees.

Although the act, as originally passed, appeared toprovide immunity primarily to owners of large tractsof land, a subsequent amendment to 52-557g (a) indicatesthat the size of the land is not a relevant considerationin terms of the coverage provided by the act.Originally, General Statutes (Rev. to 1972) 52-557g (a)read: "Except as provided in section 52-557h, an ownerof five or more acres of land who makes such land available to thepublic without charge . . . owes no duty of care . . . ." In 1973,the legislature amended the statute by deleting the phrase "five

[226 Conn. 459]

     or more acres of land" and substituting "all or any part ofthe land" made available to the public. Public Acts 1973, No.73-70. The amendment clearly indicated that the sizeof the land made available to the public for recreationalpurposes would not limit the scope of the immunity provided.

The plaintiff, despite Manning and the 1973 amendmentto the act, nonetheless argues that the landintended to be covered by the act was that preservedin its pristine state. Turning to the legislative historyof the act, the plaintiff argues that the focus of the actwas on "enjoyment of the rural life in Connecticut."14 H.R. Proc., Pt. 4, 1971 Sess., p. 1805, remarks ofRepresentative David Lavine. Consequently, the scopeof the act, according to the plaintiff, was not intendedto include improved land in suburban or urban settings.The plaintiff further maintains that by expanding thescope of the act to apply to any tract of land, even thosein urban and residential areas, it will encourage ownersof such land, including municipalities, to manageand supervise their properties negligently. Consequently,the plaintiff suggests that, although the actmay encourage landowners to open up their lands tothe public for recreational uses, it will also unfairlycloak landowners with immunity from liability andbecome a formidable hurdle to the recovery of damagesin instances where the land involved feasibly couldhave been supervised and made safe.

Courts> in other jurisdictions are divided on whethertheir state's recreational land use acts apply when injuriesoccur on smaller improved tracts of land. See Gibsonv. Keith, 492 A.2d 241, 244 (Del. 1985) ("we find[the act] not applicable to urban or residential areasimproved with swimming pools, tennis courts>, and thelike"); Herring v. Hauck, 118 Ga. App. 623,165 S.E.2d 198 (1968) (act not applicable to backyards or vacantlots in residential areas); O'Connell v. Forest Hill Field

[226 Conn. 460]

     Club, 119 N.J. Super. 317, 291 A.2d 386 (1972) (act wasdetermined not to apply to a public golf course); Tijerinav. Cornelius Christian Church, 273 Or. 58,539 P.2d 634 (1975) (act held not to be applicable to a threeacre ball diamond adjacent to a suburban church);Kucher v. Pierce County, 24 Wash. App. 281, 288,600 P.2d 683 (1979) (act not applicable to park because itwas "improved, routinely inspected, and . . . insidethe city of Tacoma"). Compare Rodrigue v. Fireman'sFund Ins. Co., 449 So.2d 1042 (La. 1984) (act appliedto unsafe bleachers at a playground); Pratt v. State,408 So.2d 336 (La. App. 1981), cert. denied, 412 So.2d 1098(La. 1982) (act applied to drowning at lake adjacentto recreational area); Watson v. Omaha, 209 Neb. 835,312 N.W.2d 256 (1981) (act applied to slippery slidelocated at a park); Martinez v. Harris County,808 S.W.2d 257 (Tex. App. 1991) (act applied to playgroundequipment).

Our decision in Manning v. Barenz, supra, however,settled the question in Connecticut of whether the actaffords immunity from liability for negligence or nuisanceto a municipality for an injury suffered on townland developed as a playground. In Manning, we heldthat the town of Bloomfield was immune from liabilityfor a serious injury suffered by a two year old boywhen the lid of a heavy metal storage box at a townowned park fell on his thumb.8 Having determined that

[226 Conn. 461]

     the field on which the plaintiff was injured was "availableto the public" and that a league baseball game isa "recreational purpose," we can see no discernibledifference between the present case and Manning.Manning dictates that the defendants here wereentitled to immunity from liability pursuant to the actfor the plaintiff's injuries.

The judgment is affirmed.

In this opinion BORDEN and NORCOTT, Js., concurred.

1. "[General Statutes] Sec. 52-557f. LANDOWNER LIABILITY FORRECREATIONAL USE OF LAND. DEFINITIONS. As used in sections 52-557f to52-557i, inclusive: "(1) `Charge' means the admission price or fee asked in return forinvitation or permission to enter or go upon the land; "(2) `Land' means land, roads, water, watercourses, private ways andbuildings, structures, and machinery or equipment when attached to therealty; "(3) `Owner' means the possessor of a fee interest, a tenant, lessee,occupant or person in control of the premises; "(4) `Recreational purpose' includes, but is not limited to, any of thefollowing, or any combination thereof: Hunting, fishing, swimming, boating,camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, nature study, water skiing,snow skiing, ice skating, sledding, hang gliding, sport parachuting, hot airballooning and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic orscientific sites." "[General Statutes] Sec. 52-557g. LIABILITY OF OWNER OF LAND AVAILABLETO PUBLIC FOR RECREATION; EXCEPTIONS. (a) Except as provided insection 52-557h, an owner of land who makes all or any part of the landavailable to the public without charge, rent, fee or other commercialservice for recreational purposes owes no duty of care to keep the land, orthe part thereof so made available, safe for entry or use by others forrecreational purposes, or to give any warning of a dangerous condition,use, structure or activity on the land to persons entering forrecreational purposes. "(b) Except as provided in section 52-557h, an owner of land who, eitherdirectly or indirectly, invites or permits without charge, rent, fee orother commercial service any person to use the land, or part thereof, forrecreational purposes does not thereby: (1) Make any representation thatthe premises are safe for any purpose; (2) confer upon the person whoenters or uses the land for recreational purposes the legal status of aninvitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed; or (3) assumeresponsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or propertycaused by an act or omission of the owner. "(c) Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the provisions of subsections(a) and (b) of this section shall be deemed applicable to the duties andliability of an owner of land leased to the state or any subdivisionthereof for recreational purposes." "[General Statutes] Sec. 52-557h. OWNER LIABLE, WHEN. Nothing in sections52-557f to 52-557i, inclusive, limits in any way the liability of any ownerof land which otherwise exists: (1) For wilful or malicious failure to guardor warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity; (2) forinjury suffered in any case where the owner of land charges the personor persons who enter or go on the land for the recreational use thereofexcept that, in the case of land leased to the state or a subdivisionthereof any consideration received by the owner for the lease shall notbe deemed a charge within the meaning of this section." "[General Statutes] Sec. 52-557i. OBLIGATION OF USER OF LAND. Nothingin sections 52-557f to 52-557i, inclusive, shall be construed to relieveany person using the land of another for recreational purposes from anyobligation which he may have in the absence of said sections to exercisecare in his use of such land and in his activities thereon, or from thelegal consequences of failure to employ such care."

2. The term owner is broadly defined by General Statutes 52-557f(3), which provides: "`Owner' means the possessor of a fee interest, atenant, lessee, occupant or person in control of the premises." It wasundisputed that both the town and the board were considered owners ofthe land. See Manning v. Barenz, 221 Conn. 256, 259, 603 A.2d 399 (1992).

3. "[W]e have long depended and will continue to depend upon thegenerosity of private owners of land and water to open their property tothe use and enjoyment of their fellow citizens . . . . So this act here isto allow limited liability . . . of Connecticut property owners to opentheir land for public use without charge." 14 H.R. Proc., Pt. 4, 1971Sess., p. 1805, remarks of Representative David Lavine.

4. The model act provided in part: "Section 2. As used in thisact . . . (c) `Recreational purpose' includes, but is not limited to, anyof the following, or any combination thereof: hunting, fishing, swimming,boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, nature study,water skiing, winter sports, and viewing or enjoying historical,archaeological, scenic, or scientific sites." 24 Council of StateGovernments, "Public Recreation on Private Lands: Limitations onLiability," Suggested State Legislation (1965), p. 151.

5. Giamatti continued: "Sports represent a shared vision of how wecontinue, as individual, team, community to experience . . . happiness orabsence of care . . . and that under the rubric of leisure, sport - eitherwatched or played - has availed itself fully of whatever prestige accruesto shared activities that have no purpose except fully to be themselves."A. Giamatti, Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games (1989),pp. 14-15.

6. in other jurisdictions have directly and indirectlyinterpreted their recreational land use acts to apply to team sports, andin particular baseball. See, e.g., Page v. Louisville, 722 S.W.2d 60 (Ky.App. 1986) (injuries sustained when plaintiff stepped into hole on thefield); Anderson v. Springfield, 406 Mass. 632, 549 N.E.2d 1127 (1990)(injuries suffered on ball park because of defect in home plate); Millerv. Dayton, 42 Ohio St.3d 111, 537 N.E.2d 1294 (1989) (softball playerinjured while sliding into second base); see also Edwards v. Birmingham,447 So.2d 704 (Ala. 1984) (plaintiff was owed no duty of care when he wasinjured while playing baseball on a baseball field in a public park);Wiegand v. Mars National Bank, 454 A.2d 99 (Pa. Super. 1982) (injuriessustained while playing football on an empty lot).

7. In Manning v. Barenz, 221 Conn. 256, 260, 603 A.2d 399 (1992),the plaintiff, who was only two years old at the time of the accident,was obviously not engaged in any specific "recreational purpose" asenumerated in the statute.

8. That our decision in Manning v. Barenz, 221 Conn. 256,603 A.2d 399 (1992), applied the act to municipalities is notinconsistent with many state that have applied their recreationaluse acts to public owners. See, e.g., Stone Mountain Memorial Assn. v.Herrington, 225 Ga. 746, 171 S.E.2d 521 (1969); Pratt v. State,408 So.2d 336 (La. App. 1981), cert. denied, 412 So.2d 1098(La. 1982); Watson v. Omaha, 209 Neb. 835, 312 N.W.2d 256 (1981);Trimblett v. State, 156 N.J. Super. 291, 383 A.2d 1146 (1977); Sega v.State, 60 N.Y.2d 183, 456 N.E.2d 1174, 469 N.Y.S.2d 51 (1983). Legislationin several states has also explicitly extended their states' recreationaluse acts to public owners. See, e.g., Ala. Code 35-15-21 (1) (1991) (owneris "[a]ny public or private organization . . . any federal, State, orlocal political subdivision or any agency"); Colo. Rev. Stat. 33-41-102(3) (1984) (owner includes "any public entity as defined in the `ColoradoGovernmental Immunity Act' . . . which has an interest in land"); IdahoCode 36-1604 (b)(1) (Sup. 1992) ("`[l]and' means private or public land,roads, trails, water, watercourses . . . private or public ways"); OhioRev. Code Ann. 1533.18(A) (Baldwin 1990) (premises include "allstate-owned lands"); Wash. Rev. Code Ann. 4.24.210 (West 1988) (extendsto "[a]ny public or private landowners").

9. G. Thompson & M. Dettmer, "Trespassing on the Recreational UserStatute," 61 Mich. B.J. 726 (1982).

10. The model act provided in part: PUBLIC RECREATION ON PRIVATE LANDS: LIMITATIONS ON LIABILITY . . . "Section 1. The purpose of this act is to encourage owners of land to makeland and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes bylimiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes. "Section 2. As used in this act: "(a) `Land' means land, roads, water, watercourses, private ways andbuildings, structures, and machinery or equipment when attached to therealty. "(b) `Owner' means the possessor of a fee interest, a tenant, lessee,occupant or person in control of the premises. "(c) `Recreational purpose' includes, but is not limited to, any of thefollowing, or any combination thereof: hunting, fishing, swimming, boating,camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, nature study, water skiing,winter sports, and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic,or scientific sites. "(d) `Charge' means the admission price or fee asked in return forinvitation or permission to enter or go upon the land "Section 3. Except as specifically recognized by or provided in Section6 of this act, an owner of land owes no duty of care to keep the premisessafe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes, or to give anywarning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on suchpremises to persons entering for such purposes. "Section 4. Except as specifically recognized by or provided in Section6 of this act, an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites orpermits without charge any person to use such property for recreationalpurposes does not thereby: "(a) Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose. "(b) Confer upon such person the legal status of an invitee or licenseeto whom a duty of care is owed. "(c) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to personor property caused by an act of omission of such persons. "Section 5. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the provisions of Sections3 and 4 of this act shall be deemed applicable to the duties and liabilityof an owner of land leased to the state or any subdivision thereof forrecreational purposes. "Section 6. Nothing in this act limits in any way any liability whichotherwise exists: "(a) For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerouscondition, use, structure, or activity. "(b) For injury suffered in any case where the owner of land charges theperson or persons who enter or go on the land for the recreational usethereof, except that in the case of land leased to the state or asubdivision thereof, any consideration received by the owner for suchlease shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of this section. "Section 7. Nothing in this act shall be construed to: "(a) Create a duty of care or ground of liability for injury to persons orproperty. "(b) Relieve any person using the land of another for recreationalpurposes from any obligation which he may have in the absence of this actto exercise care in his use of such land and in his activities thereon, orfrom the legal consequences of failure to employ such care. "Section 8. [Insert effective date.]" 24 Council of State Governments,"Public Recreation on Private Lands: Limitations on Liability," SuggestedState Legislation (1965), pp. 150-52.

11. Public Acts 1967, No. 623.

12. Connecticut's statute, like those of many other states, had itsgenesis in the model act. G. Thompson & M. Dettmer, "Trespassing on theRecreational User Statute," 61 Mich. B.J. 726 (1982). The introductorystatement of the reasons for the model act is therefore entitled toconsideration. The preamble provides: "Recent years have seen a growingawareness of the need for additional recreational areas to serve thegeneral public. The acquisition and operation of outdoor recreationalfacilities by governmental units is on the increase. However, largeacreages of private land could add to the outdoor recreation resourcesavailable . . . . [I]n those instances where private owners are willing tomake their land available to members of the general public without charge,it is possible to argue that every reasonable encouragement should begiven to them. "In something less than one-third of the states, legislation has beenenacted limiting the liability of private owners who make their premisesavailable for one or more public recreational uses. This is done on thetheory that it is not reasonable to expect such owners to undergo the risksof liability for injury to persons and property attendant upon the use oftheir land by strangers from whom the accommodating owner receives nocompensation or other favor in return. "The suggested act which follows is designed to encourage availabilityof private lands . . . ." 24 Council of State Governments, "PublicRecreation on Private Lands: Limitations on Liability," Suggested StateLegislation (1965), p. 150.

13. It was also remarked before the Senate that "this is animportant bill. And will probably do more to open up land to recreationpurposes without the expenditure of a single penny on the part of thestate." 14 S. Proc., Pt. 4, 1971 Sess., p. 1679, remarks of SenatorRoger W. Eddy.

14. Because immunity conferred by General Statutes 52-557g is inderogation of the common law, it should be strictly construed toeffectuate its intended purpose. McKinley v. Musshorn, 185 Conn. 616,621, 441 A.2d 600 (1981).

15. At common law a municipality was generally immune from liabilityfor its tortious acts. Ryszkiewicz v. New Britain, 193 Conn. 589, 593,479 A.2d 793 (1984). Its employees had a qualified immunity in theperformance of a governmental duty. If an employee misperformed aministerial act, he was potentially liable; if, however, he misperformeda discretionary act, he was immune from liability subject to threeexceptions. Evon v. Andrews, 211 Conn. 501, 505, 559 A.2d 1131(1989). General Statutes 52-557n, enacted as part of tort reform in1986; Public Act 1986, 86-338, 13; was "intended, in a general sense, bothto codify and to limit municipal liability . . . ." Sanzone v. Board ofPolice Commissioners, 219 Conn. 179, 188, 592 A.2d 912 (1991).In 1971, when the act was enacted; Public Acts 1971, No. 249; as well asin 1967, immunity for municipalities was alive and well. Accordingly,there was even less incentive to craft the act in order to grant immunityto an entity that was already protected in order to supplement availablerecreational land. We have often stated that we will not assume the legislature enactedlegislation that serves no useful purpose. Hartford Electric Light Co. v.Water Resources Commission, 162 Conn. 89, 99, 291 A.2d 721 (1971); Anthonyv. Administrator, 158 Conn. 556, 565, 265 A.2d 61 (1969). Furthermore,if a statute is susceptible to an interpretation by which such a consequencecan be avoided, that interpretation will be found. Hartford Electric LightCo. v. Water Resources Commission, supra.

16. Although we look to legislative inaction following a decision bythis court to signify its acquiescence in our interpretation of aparticular section; see e.g., Scheyd v. Bezrucik, 205 Conn. 495, 506-507,535 A.2d 793 (1987); the ink on Manning v. Barenz, 221 Conn. 256,603 A.2d 399 (1992), has barely dried. I, therefore, hesitate to drawany conclusion from the lack of legislative response to this

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