Forest Ranger Gets Burned
Puskar, a forest ranger at Yosemite National Park was severely burned while living at County provided housing. As part of his job, Puskar was required to stay at the park while working as a ranger. He rented a residential unit from the County – a public entity.
The County, whom rented the living units to its rangers, also provided fire extinguishers to the residents.
On October 22, 2011, Puskar was cooking at his residence when oil in a skillet caught fire. Puskar ran to get the fire extinguisher only to find that it was not there. Unbeknownst to Puskar, the fire extinguisher had been removed about a month earlier so that it could be refilled. The County never refilled or replaced the fire extinguisher, leaving Puskar without one.
Desperate, Puskar grabbed the skillet, intending to take it outside. As he was exiting his residence, the screen door swung back, hitting the skillet and splashing burning grease on Puskar’s hand. As he continued to run down the stairs, the pan dropped and Mr. Puskar was further splashed with grease, suffering serious burns.
Understandably, Mr. Puskar brought an action against the County due to the injuries he sustained, blaming the County, in part, for failing to return the fire extinguisher it had removed a month prior. The County asserted that it was immune under Government Code section 850.2. This section reads:
Neither a public entity that has undertaken to provide fire protection service, nor an employee of such a public entity, is liable for any injury resulting from the failure to provide or maintain sufficient personnel, equipment or other fire protection facilities.
The Court granted summary judgment for the County, effectively dismissing Mr. Puskar’s action.
This case illustrates the strong protections in place for public entities in California. It is difficult to maintain an action against a City, County, or other type of public entity. If you have a case involving a public entity, you want to have a law firm that is experienced in prosecuting public entity claims. Call us today.
Case referenced is Puskar v. City and County of San Francisco, 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 751, *1-3 (Cal. App. 5th Dist. Aug. 27, 2015)