from a judgment of the circuit court for Marathon County: No.
2013CV829 LAMONT K. JACOBSON, Judge. Affirmed.
Stark, P.J., Hruz and Seidl, JJ.
Paula Langenhahn was injured when she tripped on a barricade
positioned in an unmarked crosswalk while exiting Marathon
Fun Days, a four-day community event held on park grounds in
the Village of Marathon City. Paula and her husband, Keith
Langenhahn, appeal a summary judgment dismissing their
personal injury claims against the event organizer, American
Legion Post 469, and its insurer, West Bend Mutual Insurance
Company. The Langenhahns argue summary judgment on
recreational immunity grounds was improper because Post 469
was not a statutory "owner," in that it did not
"occupy" the crosswalk where Paula was injured.
They also argue the circuit court improperly applied
recreational immunity because Paula was not engaged in a
recreational activity at the time of her injury.
We conclude the circuit court properly granted Post 469's
summary judgment motion. Case law establishes that the
producer or organizer of a recreational event like Marathon
Fun Days "occupies" the real property on which the
event is held, and it is therefore considered an
"owner" of the property for purposes of
recreational immunity. Moreover, the undisputed evidence in
this case establishes that Paula's injury occurred on
real property dedicated to a recreational use. Finally, Paula
was walking to exit the Marathon Fun Days event at the time
of her injury, an act that itself constitutes a recreational
activity because it was "inextricably connected" to
her attendance at that event. We affirm.
Post 469, a nonprofit organization, organizes and produces
Marathon Fun Days in the Village of Marathon City. Marathon
Fun Days is a community event that occurs annually during the
Labor Day weekend. The event is held at Marathon City
Veterans Park, which consists of approximately three square
blocks and is bordered on the north by Third Street, on the
south by Fourth Street, on the west by Market Street, and on
the east by an imaginary extension of East Street, which
terminates on both sides of the park. Chestnut Street runs north
and south and intersects Third and Fourth Streets, bisecting
the park area. The Village owns Veterans Park as well as the
surrounding public streets.
On September 3, 2011, the Langenhahns attended an informal
class reunion at Marathon Fun Days. Upon arriving at the
area, Keith parked their car to the south of the park area,
near the intersection of Chestnut Street and Fourth Street,
and then they walked across Chestnut Street and Fourth Street
to get to the park grounds. The Langenhahns attended Marathon
Fun Days for a few hours, during which time they socialized
with Keith's former classmates. Alcoholic and other
beverages were being served at the event; Keith consumed one
beer while attending the reunion.
The Langenhahns left Veterans Park that night through an
opening in the fence surrounding the park. They walked across
Fourth Street, then east on the sidewalk opposite Veterans
Park until they encountered Chestnut Street. Keith told Paula
he would walk ahead and unlock the car, and he proceeded to
walk slightly ahead of Paula. As Paula stepped off the curb
behind him and began to cross Chestnut Street, she tripped
over the foot of a metal barricade that was protruding into
the crosswalk. Paula severely injured her elbow.
The barricades were present in the intersection because, each
year, Post 469 requests that the Village block off Fourth
Street to vehicular traffic between East Street and
Washington Street. Post 469 officials were aware that people
would park to the south of Fourth Street and believed
allowing vehicular traffic on Fourth Street presented a
danger to children and other pedestrians. Post 469 did not
locate food stands, rides, or other structures associated
with Marathon Fun Days within Fourth Street, but it did use
Fourth Street for a children's parade. In addition,
access to Fourth Street is permitted for emergency vehicles
and handicap parking.
Rent-A-Flash Company provided Post 469 with the barricades
for the event free of charge. Donald Southworth, the head of
Post 469's executive committee at the time, told
Rent-A-Flash where to deliver the barricades for storage
until they were ready for deployment. The appellate record is
unclear whether the Village, through its police department,
or Post 469 ultimately placed the barricades in the
roads. However, it is undisputed that the
barricades- including the barricade Paula tripped on-were
used in connection with the Marathon Fun Days event.
The Langenhahns filed a negligence action against Post
469.Post 469 subsequently filed a summary
judgment motion, asserting the recreational immunity statute,
Wis.Stat. § 895.52 (2015-16),  barred the Langenhahns'
claims. The circuit court concluded that recreational
immunity applied, rejecting the Langenhahns' arguments
that Post 469 was not a statutory "owner" of the
property on which Paula was injured and that Paula was not
engaged in a recreational activity at the time she tripped.
The Langenhahns now appeal.
We review a grant of summary judgment de novo. Tews v.
NHI, LLC, 2010 WI 137, ¶40, 330 Wis.2d 389, 793
N.W.2d 860. The summary judgment methodology is well
established. Id., ¶41. Summary judgment must be
granted when there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. Wis.Stat. § 802.08(2). "The purpose of the
summary judgment procedure is to avoid trials when there is
nothing to try." Tews, 330 Wis.2d 389,
The circuit court's grant of summary judgment was based
on its conclusion that Post 469 was entitled to recreational
immunity. The recreational immunity statute, Wis.Stat. §
895.52, reflects a legislative choice to "expand
liability protection for landowners who open their private
property for public recreational use." Lang v. Lions
Club of Cudahy Wis., Inc., 2018 WI.App. 69, ¶15,
384 Wis.2d 520, 920 N.W.2d 329 (citing Westmas v.
Creekside Tree Serv., Inc., 2018 WI 12, ¶21, 379
Wis.2d 471, 907 N.W.2d 68). The law is intended to address
the "continual shrinkage of the public's access to
recreational land in the ever more populated modern
world." Hall v. Turtle Lake Lions Club, 146
Wis.2d 486, 489, 431 N.W.2d 696');">431 N.W.2d 696 (Ct. App. 1988).
The statute accomplishes this goal by "removing a
property user's potential cause of action against a
property owner's alleged negligence." Kautz ex
rel. Kautz v. Ozaukee Cty. Agri. Soc., 2004 WI.App. 203,
¶9, 276 Wis.2d 833, 688 N.W.2d 771. Specifically, the
recreational immunity statute provides:
(2) No duty; immunity from liability. (a)
Except as provided in subs. (3) to (6), no owner and no
officer, employee or agent of an owner owes to any person who
enters the owner's property to engage in a recreational
1. A duty to keep the property safe for recreational
2. A duty to inspect the property, except as provided under
3. A duty to give warning of an unsafe condition, use or