The Appellate Group

Doutre v. Box Elder County

Doutre v. Box Elder County, 2024 UT App 58 (Mortensen, J.)

Torts/Governmental Immunity

A group of teenagers drove a jeep on a rural road at speeds exceeding the speed limit in an attempt to jump over a set of train tracks. This resulted in a car crash that seriously injured one of the teens. The teen then sued various parties, including Box Elder County, for (1) failure to investigate, remedy, or warn of unsafe conditions; (2) negligent design and maintenance; and (3) liability for maintaining an attractive nuisance. All the teen’s claims were dismissed on summary judgment. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding, in part:

  • The district court correctly concluded that the County enjoyed governmental immunity for liability related to the incline of the road.
  • Any argument that the potholes in the road caused the crash were speculative and the teen’s arguments regarding the potholes failed because, although the non-moving party is entitled to all favorable inferences, she is not entitled to build a case on the “gossamer threads of whimsy, speculation, and conjecture.”
  • Because the teen was a licensed driver, the attractive nuisance claim failed as a matter of law. Where minors take part in adult activities, they are held to an adult standard of care.

Read the full court opinion