Forest City Doesn’t Fully Appreciate “Attractive Nuisance” Doctrine

fountainFor years now, the West Crescent Flats water fountain “art” piece in the 29th St. Town Center has served as a play area for kids on hot summer days. Kids run around the moat of water and climb the water mountain. The problem with this is that the structure isn’t meant for climbing. “We never thought having an unprotected, easy to access fountain in the middle of a crowded area would end up being a place for people to walk on,” said Forest City Spokesperson Janelle Ayers. “I don’t think anyone would have thought that, right? So, we put a sign up, which we had hoped would discourage kids from playing in the fountain area.”

Local tort lawyer Tracy Hartland says the sign probably isn’t enough. “The problem with the fountain area is that at some point, a kid is going to get hurt,” says Hartland. “They could slip, get pushed by another kid, or any number of things. And these injuries could result in actual and punitive damages, which Forest City may be liable for.” Forest City feels the sign should be enough to exempt themselves from any lawsuits. “We are very specific in letting people know they should not play on the fountain, so I think we are pretty much covered,” says Ayers. Unfortunately for Forest City, Hartland says that simply is not the case. “Not everyone reads English, or in the case of young kids, or Aurorans, reads at all,” says Hartland. “So, a somewhat hidden sign with no obvious warning markings has left Forest City open to potential lawsuits.

Whether or not Forest City could be liable for damages will not affect Forest City’s building of more art projects around Stapleton, according to Ayers. “We have lots of ideas for future art projects around the neighborhood,” says Ayers. “The possibility of a lawsuit is not going to deter us.” Ayers says that some of the proposals they are considering for projects around Stapleton include trampoline art, construction equipment art, abandoned automobile art, and skateboard ramp art. “We have lots of great artists with great ideas. We just don’t know what to pick and where we should put them.” No matter where Forest City puts them, they will make sure to include a sign.

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