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Stickle v. County of Jefferson.

2022 COA 79. No. 21CA0439. Premises Liability—Colorado Governmental Immunity Act—Immunity—Partial Waiver—Dangerous Condition of a Public Building.

July 21, 2022

Plaintiff parked her car in the parking structure at the Jefferson County (County) Courts and Administration Building (parking structure). She walked through the parking structure where the walkway is separated from the parking surface by a raised curb requiring a step down. The walkway and the parking surface were the same shade of charcoal gray except for the edge of the curb, which was painted yellow. Plaintiff did not see the step down from the walkway to the parking surface, and she fell and suffered a compound fracture of her arm. She brought a premises liability claim against the County alleging that her fall resulted from a dangerous condition caused by negligent maintenance. The County moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under CRCP 12(b)(1), arguing, among other things, that plaintiff could not show that the County had waived its immunity under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act’s (CGIA) waiver provision for a dangerous condition of a public building. The trial court denied the motion.

On appeal, the County argued that the trial court erred in concluding that the parking structure was a public “building” under the CGIA. The CGIA provides public entities sovereign immunity from tort injuries, but sovereign immunity is waived in an action for injuries resulting from a dangerous condition of a public building. Here, the parking structure was constructed and designed to be permanent, and the International Building Code (IBC), adopted by both the County and the City of Golden (where the parking structure sits), includes parking structures in its definition of “building.” Therefore, based on the CGIA’s plain language, the parking structure is a public building. Further, the parking structure falls within the sovereign immunity waiver provision of CRS § 24-10-106(1)(c). Accordingly, the trial court did not err.

The County also argued that even if the parking structure was a public building, the County was immune from plaintiff’s claim because her injury resulted from inadequate design rather than from a dangerous condition caused by negligent maintenance. The County is responsible for the parking structure’s maintenance, which included a resurfacing project involving a new topping to the walkway, curb, and parking surface to prevent corrosive substances from seeping into the concrete. This resulted in a finish to both the walkway and the drive surface with the same color. The new topping material helped preserve the facility from decline or failure, which falls within the CGIA’s definition of maintenance. Accordingly, the dangerous condition resulted, at least in part, from maintenance.

The order was affirmed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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