In Wahoske v. Mills Fleet Farm LLC (2019AP2036), the Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that a hunting stand could be a “structure” for purposes of the recreational immunity statute.
For about six months every year, Robert Stibb affixes a tree stand on a tree on his parents’ property. In 2017, Stibb’s friend, Jason Wahoske, was bow hunting from it when the tree stand broke and he fell and injured himself. Wahoske then sued Mills Fleet Farm LLC, who sold the tree stand to Stibb. Mills Fleet Farm LLC in turn sued Stibb and his insurance, alleging negligent maintenance and installation of the tree stand.
At this point, the case centers on whether Stibb was entitled to recreational immunity under Wis. Stat. § 895.52 (2017-18) (and so dismissal from the case.) The Court of Appeals held he was.
Recreational immunity states that no duty of care applies to owners when “any person…enters the owner’s property to engage in a recreational activity.” The statute defines “owner” as “a person…that owns, leases or occupies property.” Mills Fleet Farm LLC argued, among other things, that the tree stand was not a “structure” and so the statute did not apply.
The Court of Appeals disagreed and held that a tree stand could be a “structure” that counted for purposes of the recreational immunity statute.