Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
M.C., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEXT FRIEND OF J.C., A MINOR; E.P., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEXT FRIEND OF A.P., A MINOR; AND EACH ON BEHALF OF THE ESTATE OF J.G., DECEDENT APPELLANTS
PANTEGO CAMP THURMAN, INC. APPELLEE
THE 17TH DISTRICT COURT OF TARRANT COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO.
SUDDERTH, C.J.; KERR and PITTMAN, JJ.
SUDDERTH CHIEF JUSTICE
early morning hours following Christmas Day 2011, J.G.-who
had been smoking marijuana and drinking heavily-walked with a
female companion, Faith Yeh, through his neighbor's
property, climbed over a four-foot-high wooden fence on which
four "No Trespassing" signs were posted, and
entered Camp Thurman. The pair proceeded to climb a cargo net
to a triangular platform located more than 20 feet above
ground, where they began to kiss. After rebuking further
advances, Yeh turned and started to retreat back down from
the platform. At that point, she heard J.G.'s body hit
the ground below.
years later, M.C. and E.P. (Appellants)-the mothers of
J.G.'s two children-filed a wrongful death action against
Appellee Pantego Camp Thurman, Inc. (Pantego) on behalf of
themselves and J.G.'s two young sons, alleging that
Pantego's negligence caused J.G. to fall to his death.
After the jury rendered a verdict in Pantego's favor, the
trial court signed a take-nothing judgment. Appellants now
bring this appeal, arguing in three issues that the trial
court erred. We affirm.
Thurman is located on a 12.3-acre site in Pantego. In the
summer months, Camp Thurman serves as a children's camp.
During the remainder of the year, the site is used for adult
platform from which J.G. fell-the "Wild Woozy"-was
one element of a challenge course located on the property and
consisted of two 22- to 30-foot tall wooden platforms
connected to each other by two cables. One platform was
triangular in shape, the other was rectangular. The
triangular platform was accessible in two ways-by a cargo net
reaching from the ground to one side of the platform, and by
a spiral staircase located on another side of the platform.
The spiral staircase was encased by a six-to-eight-foot-high
wrought-iron fence with a door that was locked when the
element was not in use. Two signs on the element warned,
"Coaster's Wild Woozy, extreme danger, " and
"WARNING! Equipment and area are only to be used with
Yeh heard J.G.'s body hit the ground, she raced down the
spiral staircase, only to realize when she reached the bottom
that the door to the staircase was locked, forcing her to go
back up to the platform and climb down the cargo net. By the
time she reached J.G., his body was not moving. Yeh called
911 and paramedics pronounced J.G. dead at the scene.
trial, evidence was presented of J.G.'s struggles with
alcoholism, drug use, and depression. His girlfriend at the
time of his death, Ashleigh Miller, described him as a heavy
drinker who drank daily "until he [was] drunk." She
also testified that J.G. smoked marijuana at least three
times a day. According to Miller, J.G. sometimes spoke
of killing himself and of his desire to "disappear from
the world." Although he had two young sons, he rarely
saw them and, at the time of his death, J.G. owed back child
support to both Appellants.
the Appellants testified that the platform of the Wild Woozy
was J.G.'s "secret spot, " a place where he
went when he was feeling depressed and needed to think.
J.G.'s roommate and girlfriend also confirmed that J.G.
had visited the Wild Woozy multiple times prior to the night
jury found that J.G. had trespassed onto Camp Thurman and
that his death was not caused by Pantego's gross
bring three issues in this appeal. The first two issues
relate to the trial court's failure to take judicial
notice of and to admit into evidence certain provisions of
the Texas Administrative Code relating to safety standards
for youth camps. In their third issue, Appellants argue that
the jury's verdict was against the great weight and
preponderance of the evidence.
Administrative code provisions
the trial, Appellants' counsel attempted to introduce
exhibit 18, a 34-page printout of sections 265.11 through
265.29 of the Texas Administrative Code, portions of which
relate to safety standards for youth camps. See Tex.
Admin. Code Ann. §§ 265.11-.29. Pantego's
counsel objected that Appellants had failed to reveal that
they planned to introduce evidence of those sections of the
administrative code in response to discovery. The trial court
sustained the objection and did not admit the code provisions
into evidence. Later, Appellants' counsel again offered
exhibit 18, arguing that Pantego would not be unfairly
surprised by its admission because the Appellants ...