A judge Thursday dismissed a negligence/wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of an intoxicated man who fell to his death from a residential building at the Glendale YMCA in 2016, finding that the agency had no duty to warn their son of the dangers of going onto the roof.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jon R. Takasugi reversed a decision he issued in December in which he ruled that Abel Montes Sr. and Angela Reisner were entitled to a trial of the suit they filed in December 2017. He said at the time that a jury should decide whether the condition of the roof where the fall occurred was dangerous and whether their 23-year-old son, Abel Montes Jr., fell rather than jumped.
YMCA lawyers subsequently sought and obtained an order from the 2nd District Court of Appeal for a rehearing on whether their clients had an obligation to warn Montes Jr. that going onto the roof could be harmful.
Takasugi concluded that the YMCA had no requirement to do so.
“Given the court’s conclusion that YMCA did not owe Mr. Montes a duty to warn of, or remedy, of the open and obvious danger posed by the roof, plaintiffs have not carried their burden with respect to their causes of action,” Takasugi wrote in Thursday’s ruling.
Plaintiff’s attorney Henry Peacor argued that the door Montes Jr. went through was not a fire escape and had no practical purpose and that a dangerous condition existed. He said the YMCA now keeps the door locked.
But in their court papers, YMCA attorneys argued it was not foreseeable that Montes Jr. would walk onto the roof.
“Plaintiffs cannot dispute that the danger of the roof was open and obvious,” the YMCA lawyers wrote. “Plaintiffs cannot dispute that there was no foreseeable practical necessity for Montes to climb onto the roof.”
According to the suit, Montes Jr. lived at the Glendale YMCA on Louise Street and had consumed an “intoxicating substance, possible cannabis” before returning to the property on New Year’s Eve 2015. He told a YMCA employee that he was feeling “high” and “believed himself to be in danger,” the suit states.
On Jan. 1, 2016, Montes Jr. walked out a door of the residential compound and onto the tile roof, which was sloped and had no guardrails, sometime between 4:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., the suit states. He fell from the roof and onto the street and died later that morning at a hospital.
The plaintiffs alleged that YMCA employees knew residents often went onto the roof to enjoy the scenery and “promoted this vantage point as a benefit or feature of the property.”
The entryway to the roof was open 24 hours and the condition violated the municipal code, the suit alleged. The plaintiffs alleged the YMCA was obligated to supervise Montes Jr. and the agency was negligent in failing to do so.
The YMCA of Glendale had a policy of not permitting residents to return to its residential facilities while under the influence of drugs, according to the suit.
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