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“Governmental Functions” Do Not Reclassify During “Propriety Functions”

In the case of Monroe v. Troy Strawberry Festival, Inc., 2023-Ohio-650, an appellate court dismissed tort claims asserted by a festival attendee against a city for damages arising from the festival attendee falling on an improperly maintained sidewalk during a city sponsored festival as the city enjoyed political subdivision statutory immunity from such claims under R.C. Chapter 2744.

In this case, the festival attendee argued the city was liable for injuries that occurred by the attendee falling on a broken curb during a city festival asserting that hosting a festival was a “proprietary function” pursuant to R.C. 2744.01(G)(1), which is an exception to the city’s statutory immunity pursuant to R.C. 2744.02(B)(2). In response, the city argued that the injury was allegedly caused by the city failing to maintain and repair the sidewalk, which are “governmental functions” pursuant to R.C. 2744.01(C)(2)(e), and not by the city hosting a festival. The appellate court agreed with the city.

In support of its decision in favor of the city, the appellate court explained that the R.C. 2744.02(B)(2) exception to statutory immunity only applies to injuries caused by the negligent acts of employees relating to “proprietary functions;” the maintenance and repair of streets and sidewalks are “governmental functions” rather than proprietary functions; and the fact that the city was hosting a festival at the time the festival attendee was injured did not change the fact that the injuries were caused by the city’s alleged failure to perform what is statutorily defined as a governmental function. Specifically, the appellate court explained that:

The fact that the alleged failure to perform [a] governmental function resulted in an injury which happened to occur during a festival does not change the classification of the function or the cause of the injury. The alleged cause of the injury was failing to perform a governmental function related to maintenance and repair of sidewalks and streets, not failing to perform a function particular to hosting a festival.

2023-Ohio-650 at ¶ 21.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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