Court Ruling Opens Door for Wind-Related Death Lawsuit

Court Ruling Opens Door for Wind-Related Death Lawsuit

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The family of a boy who died in a freak wind-related accident can sue the city of Pleasant Grove for negligence, the Utah Supreme Court said.

Daniel Grappendorf, 13, died after being hit in the head by a city ballpark's portable pitching mound that was lifted from the ground and carried by a strong wind gust. The mound measured 8 feet by 12 feet and weighed several hundred

pounds. Grappendorf was walking near the park with his family on June 21, 2002, when he was struck. He died of massive brain injuries.

A 4th District Court judge tossed out a lawsuit filed by Grappendorf's family, saying the city had governmental immunity and couldn't be held responsible for natural-occuring events on its land.

But in a ruling issued Friday, state Supreme Court justices said the wind that picked up the mound and broke it free of its nylon tether does not "constitute natural conditions on the land."

The court said the phrase "on the land" relates to situations that are "topographical in nature, not merely atmospheric."

Ed Moriarity, the Grappendorf's attorney, called the ruling narrow and literal and said the family will continue to push their case.

"It's sad for them to have to revisit this awful event," he said. "But they're pleased to know the wrong can be righted."


Information from: The Daily Herald

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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