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BARRETT v. PENNSYLVANIA GAS & WATER CO.

September 24, 1985

JAMES J. BARRETT, JR., Plaintiff
v.
PENNSYLVANIA GAS & WATER CO., Defendant


Nealon


The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON

 I. FACTS

 Viewing the facts in a light most favorable to plaintiff reveals the following: Plaintiff, a resident of New Jersey was visiting friends in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania in June, 1982.

 Plaintiff and friends drove to the area of a dam in Plymouth Township owned by defendant for the purpose of swimming in the reservoir. Upon arrival and entry on the land, plaintiff did not see any signs forbidding entry, swimming or related activities although such signs have been posted in the past by PG&W. Further, when plaintiff's group arrived, other people were already swimming. For approximately an hour, plaintiff and a friend sat conversing on the dam wall above an area of dry land. The dam wall is approximately three (3) feet wide and has a relatively flat surface area. Plaintiff decided to go swimming and ran down the dam wall and dived into the reservoir. After swimming for a time, plaintiff emerged from the water by climbing out onto a spillway area, a point farther down on the wall from plaintiff's point of entry into the water. The spillway from which plaintiff emerged is the lowest portion of the dam wall and has approximately one inch of water or less running over it. After pulling himself out of the water, onto the spillway of the dam, plaintiff began walking back to the place on the wall where he had originally been sitting. Leaving the spillway, which involved an incline of a few inches or so, plaintiff walked to the opposite side of the dam wall, the land side, and looked over it. Upon looking over, plaintiff "misstepped" and fell off the land-side of the dam and was injured. *fn1"

 II. DISCUSSION

 The issues presented to the court are whether the Pennsylvania Recreation Use of Land and Water Act, 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 477-1 et. seq. immunizes defendant from liability and what legal status plaintiff held while on defendant's land, i.e., invitee, licensee or trespasser. Because the court finds that the Pennsylvania Recreation Use of Land & Water Act [Act] immunizes PG&W from liability in this action, it is unnecessary to establish plaintiff's legal status when he was on defendant's land. PG&W maintains that the Act applies and shields defendant from any liability for plaintiff's injuries. The court agrees.

 The purpose of the Act is to encourage landowners to make land and water available for recreational purposes by limiting the landowner's liability to those who enter. 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 477-1. The pertinent provisions of the Act provide:

 
Except as specifically recognized or provided in section 6 of this act, an owner of land owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes, or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on such premises to persons entering for such purposes.

 Id. at § 477-3 (footnote omitted).

 
Except as specifically recognized by or provided in section 6 of this act, an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any person to use such property for recreational purposes does not thereby:
 
(1) Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose.
 
(2) Confer upon such person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed.

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