Ray Walton was gracious enough to visit the class on Tuesday in the midst of preparing his argument to present in 2 days to the Iowa Supreme Court. His case struck me as intriguing to say the least because, by the letter of the law he wins hands down, but common sense tells you that the farmer couple shouldn't have to pay a dime.
When Walton said that the lady A: grew up on a farm and B: weighed 300 pounds, I thought he had sunk his own ship right there. Anyone with a brain could figure out that, even if the farmer (whom weighs less than she does) did check the sturdiness of the hay covering the chute, she could still have fallen through. Also, being that she grew up on a farm, she could have had prior knowledge of the dangers of a hay barn and that there are gaping holes in the floor she would need to look out for. This, coupled with the argument of the Recreational Use Statute, simply screams game over, done deal, case closed no money owed. Again, common sense says that showing kids around the barn is, in fact, recreational.
But his argument of the farmer acting as a tour guide and thus forfeiting any rights he had to be non-liable should something happen. Also, Walton made the point that it wasn't technically "open" to the public and people couldn't come and go as they please. Additionally, the definition of what is seen as "recreational", while admittedly gets murky and vague towards the end, doesn't seem to cover a kindergarten field trip as recreational. Based off of these arguments, Mr. Walton and his client need to get paid.
The last, and perhaps most disappointing thing I gathered, from Ray Walton's visit, is that the farmers would be willing to pay the bill. The insurance company is the one forcing this to trial and making this lady wait and flounder for funding for her medical bills. To me, this is ridiculous. I understand the insurance company is all about money, but how many customers do they have that they are still making money from besides these farmers that they can't afford to pay for her medical bills?