Our Message: Keep the MDC Properties open to recreational activities, giving the State Legislature time to address the loophole in the liability law.
Recent features by Rick Green at the Hartford Courant have shined a spotlight on a gaping loophole in the state's recreational liability law that must be closed. Towns and municipal entities like the MDC (Metropolitan District Commission), a non-profit municipal corporation, that make their lands available for public recreation should do so without fear of more personal injury lawsuits.
The state's recreational use statute currently provides immunity to private landowners and utilities that permit free access to their properties. However, the protection enjoyed by private landowners has not been fully enjoyed by towns and municipal entities like the MDC for almost 15 years. In 1996, the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the right of a private individual to sue a municipality when she sustained a leg injury while competing in a high school tennis tournament on a public tennis court in Wilton.
In that case (Conway vs. the Town of Wilton), the Supreme Court also found that 1) municipalities didn't need immunity from liability because they already had some immunity under common law; 2) municipalities were already providing recreation to the public free of charge, so there was no need to incentivize them; and 3) municipal lands were provided to the public through taxes citizens paid, so they were not truly being provided free of charge. The sad effect of this unfortunate ruling has been to slow and sometimes kill the plans of towns that might otherwise provide recreational amenities like trails for fear of liability.
For decades, the MDC has made available for public recreation over 41 miles of trails on the 2,800 acres they own around the West Hartford/Farmington Reservoirs. We are extremely thankful for this recreational gift that the MDC has provided for the public's enjoyment, and we hope the access to this jewel will continue. We ask the state Legislature to do its part by taking action to close the loophole in the state's recreational liability statute. Showing leadership on this matter will help ensure that public lands are enjoyed by the public, and doing nothing will only ensure that more towns will get cold feet and/or consider closing important recreational facilities to avoid litigation.
We would like to create a list of Friends of the MDC ... those like minded folks and businesses that are willing to put their company names on a list that we can present to our legislators when we meet with them, and here is that list so far.
|CFPA www.ctwoodlands.org||CT-NEMBA www.ctnemba.org|
|Play It Again Sports, West Hartford, CT||Suburban Sports, Berlin, CT|
|Van's RV Center, South Windsor CT||Benidorm Bikes, Canton CT|
|Granby Active Zoned, Granby CT|
|North Pole Design||One Studio Dance and Yoga|
Rob Mullins Fitness Consulting
|Biker's Edge Bristol CT|
|Tecton Architects inc, Hartford CT||Biker's Edge2 Torrington CT|
|Mike Marques Photography LLC||Glastonbury Engraving, Glastonbury Ct|
|Bill Gibbs Massage Therapy, Wolcott, CT||About Bikes, Farmington, CT|
|Kerri Provost, Hartford, CT||John Lockwood, West Simsbury, CT|
|Larry Parker, Plainville, CT||Cindy Murphy, Hartford CT|
|Keith Sheehan, Houston TX||Markus Rink, Branford CT|
|Curtis Butterfield, East Hartford CT||Michael Mason, West Hartford CT|
|Doug Tanner, Canton CT||Sarah Walters, Avon CT|
|Jim White, Meriden CT||Dave Jacobs, Avon CT|
|Randell M. Reid, Hartford CT||Ian Connor, Cromwell CT|
|Laura Jensen, Windsor CT||Elizabeth Stewart, Coventry CT|
|Hannah Bernard, West Hartford CT||Brian Williams, Manchester CT|
|Carolyn Jimenez, West Hartford CT||Daren Casey, Plainville CT|
|Mike Burke, Stamford, CT||Rachel Mintell, Granby CT|