KENNETH RITCHIE and SALLY KATHLEEN RITCHIE, husband and wife, Counterclaim Plaintiffs/Appellants,
TIM COSTELLO and JANE DOE COSTELLO, husband and wife; ALECK GRADIJAN and JANE DOE GRADIJAN, husband and wife; COTTONWOOD MUNICIPAL AIRPORT; COTTONWOOD AIRPORT COMMISSION; COTTONWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT; CITY OF COTTONWOOD; DIANE JOENS; KAREN PFEIFER; TIM ELINSKI; DAROLD SMITH; DUANE KIRBY; LINDA NORMAN; TERENCE PRATT; JAMES MOENY; MARV LAMER; DOUG PALMQUIST; and BILL TINNIN, Counterclaim Defendants/Appellees
Appeal from the Superior Court in Yavapai County. No. V1300CV201180212. The Honorable Joseph C. Butner III, Judge Pro Tempore.
Curry, Pearson & Wooten, PLC, Phoenix, By Michael W. Pearson, Kyle B. Sherman, Counsel for Counterclaim Plaintiffs/Appellants.
Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A., Phoenix, By Kevin D. Neal, Jennifer A. Cranston, Kimberly G. Allen, Counsel for Counterclaim Defendants/Appellees.
Presiding Judge Maurice Portley delivered the Opinion of the Court, in which Judge John C. Gemmill and Judge Michael J. Brown joined.
Maurice Portley, Judge.
[¶1] Kenneth Ritchie (" Ritchie" ) appeals a summary judgment in favor of the City of Cottonwood, Cottonwood Municipal Airport, other municipal entities and individuals (collectively, " Cottonwood Airport" ). Ritchie contends that the trial court erred by ruling, as a matter of law, that the Cottonwood Airport did not owe a duty of care to him when he had a mid-air collision with a hot air balloon. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
[¶2] The City of Cottonwood was the sponsor of the Cottonwood Airfest, an annual event featuring hot air balloons lifting off early in the morning and other activities at the Cottonwood Municipal Airport. A flyer was distributed specifically inviting hot air balloonists to attend the Airfest and asking them to pass the word to other balloonists. The flyer also asked the balloonists to RSVP and provided a telephone number and email address.
[¶3] The day before the 2010 Airfest, Ritchie, a retired doctor, and his son, Scott Ritchie, met with Scott Nichol, a hot air balloon pilot, and planned to have Ritchie fly his powered paraglider (a one-person ultralight aircraft) and take mid-air photos of Nichol's balloon, using mid-air communications. The Ritchies did not, however, RSVP that their paragliders would fly in the Airfest, nor did they advise any officials of their plan to photograph the Nichols' balloon.
[¶4] Early on the morning of the October 16, 2010 Airfest, the Ritchies went to the airport and told a volunteer they were " participants." They went to the hot air balloon launching area, but did not tell the volunteer they would be flying their powered paragliders. In fact, no Airfest official expected powered paragliders to participate prior to their arrival. As a result, Ritchie did not receive, nor participate in any pre-flight safety briefing from any Airfest official.
[¶5] When Airfest officials saw the Ritchies attempting to set up their powered paragliders to launch with the hot air balloons, they told the Ritchies to move to a different location because of other traffic. The Cottonwood Municipal Airport is an uncontrolled airport; it does not have an air traffic control tower or other means to control air traffic
leaving, landing or flying around the airport. After moving their launch location three times, the Ritchies were able to ...