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Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church

Filed 11/13/17 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA ALEKSANDR VASILENKO et al., ) ) Plaintiffs and Appellants, ) S235412 ) v. ) Ct.App. 3 C074801 ) GRACE FAMILY CHURCH, ) Sacramento County ) Super. Ct. No. 34-2011-00097580 Defendant and Respondent. ) ____________________________________) Plaintiff Aleksandr Vasilenko was struck by a car as he crossed a public street between the main premises of defendant Grace Family Church (the Church) and the Church’s overflow parking area. Vasilenko contends that the Church owed him a duty of care to assist him in safely crossing the public street and that the Church was negligent in failing to do so. The Church argues that it had no control over the public street and therefore did not owe Vasilenko a duty to prevent his injury under the principle that landowners have no duty to protect others from dangers on abutting streets unless the landowner created the dangers. (See Sexton v. Brooks (1952) 39 Cal.2d 153, 157–158 (Sexton).) The parties do not dispute that the Church did not control the public street and did not create the dangers on the street. But the Church, by locating its parking lot on the other side of the street and directing Vasilenko to park there, foreseeably increased the likelihood that Vasilenko would cross the street at that 1 location and thereby encounter harm. Thus the circumstances here are different from when a landowner merely owns property abutting a public street. We conclude, however, that a landowner does not have a duty to assist invitees in crossing a public street when the landowner does no more than site and maintain a parking lot that requires invitees to cross the street to access the landowner’s premises, so long as the street’s dangers are not obscured or magnified by some condition of the landowner’s premises or by some action taken by the landowner. Because Vasilenko does not allege that the Church did anything other than maintain a parking lot on the other side of that street, we find that the Church did not owe him a duty to prevent his injury. I. The Grace Family Church was located on Marconi Avenue across from the Debbie Meyer Swim School in an unincorporated area of Sacramento County. Marconi Avenue was five lanes wide, with two lanes in each direction separated by a universal left turn lane. The nearest intersection to the Church was at Root Avenue, about 50 to 100 feet east; there were no traffic signals or crosswalks at the intersection. The Church had an agreement to use the swim school lot for overflow parking when the Church’s main lot was full. Vasilenko sought to attend a seminar at the Church on a rainy evening in November 2010. When he arrived, a church member volunteering as a parking attendant informed him that the main lot was full and told him to park at the swim school lot across the street. The attendant did not tell him where to cross Marconi Avenue to reach the Church …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court