Sledding lawsuit dismissed

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:27 AM

Chance Nash, 11, died hours after he hit an obstruction while sledding in Duncan Memorial Park on Dec. 31, 2009.

The Nunica boy's family sued the Duncan Park Commission, saying the commission's negligence was responsible for the accident and the boy's death.

The law suit, filed in January 2011, claims the commission breached its duties in maintaining the park in general, and the sledding hill in particular, "in a reasonably safe condition for use by children and the other members of the public for sledding. It claimed that it was the commission's responsibility to remove dead trees and branches from the area "on or near the sledding hills."

On Jan. 16, about a year after it was filed, Ottawa County Circuit Judge Jon Hulsing dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the park's commission was a government entity, under the city of Grand Haven, making it immune from the lawsuit, said John Tallman of Grand Rapids, attorney for the Nash family. Tallman said he tried to amend the lawsuit so that it targeted the Duncan Park Trust, and the park trustees individually, but that also was denied.

The trustees at the time were, and still are, Ed Lystra, Jerry Scott and Rodney Griswold.

Scott told the Tribune for a Jan. 6, 2010, story that the original deed for the property required that the park be left in its natural state, except for cleared trails and roadways.

“Duncan Woods is what we call a ‘passive’ park,” Scott said at the time.

A passive park is the remnant of a natural ecosystem that is left unkept and found in the midst of a developed area.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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