In 2006, Bronsen v. Dawes County stripped away the protection which the government had enjoyed under the RLA by overruling twenty-five years of judicial precedent. This complete reversal of liability is what caused sledding hills, skate parks, and other recreational facilities across the State to begin shutting down. Fearing increased liability and insurance premiums, many political subdivisions closed down various publicly owned recreation sites. Subsequently, a firestorm of debate ensued which inevitably led to new legislation re-granting the government partial immunity. Part II of this Note focuses on the development of the judicial interpretation of the government's role in the RLA, beginning with Watson v. City of Omaha. Next, Part III traces the factual and procedural background of Bronsen, overviews the case itself, and expounds the legislative reaction. Part IV analyzes the reasoning used by the Nebraska Supreme Court in its pivotal decision in Bronsen. Additionally, this Note analyzes the legislative reaction to Bronsen, discussing the competing interests to the legislation. Finally, Part V concludes that the reasoning in Bronsen is justifiable, but subject to several important counterarguments. However, any attempt to overturn Bronsen will likely fail due to new legislative intent. Moreover, the state of the law today is probably a good compromise for all interested parties.
Sean D. White,
Governmental Liability for Recreational Uses of Public Land: Bronsen v. Dawes County, 273 Neb. 320, 722 N.W.2d 17 (2006),
87 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol87/iss2/10