In the case of Daviess-Martin County Joint Parks and Recreation, et al., v. The Estate of Waylon W. Abel, by John Abel, Personal Representative, Waylon Abel was a visitor to West Boggs Park, jointed owned by Daviess and Martin County on July 15, 2022. Abel was exposed to Naegleria fowleri (brain-eating amoeba) while swimming in the park’s lake. This would lead to a serious infection resulting in his death.

Abel was the first person in Indiana history to die due to this infection. His estate filed suit, alleging negligence in failing to test the water and failing to warn of the potential dangers. The County, Parks Board and Health Department filed a motion for summary judgment on the pleadings, claiming that they were under no duty to protect Abel and that they were immune from suit under both common law sovereign immunity and statutory immunity. The trial court would deny these motions and the case would be appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

The Indiana Court of Appeals analyzed the case as to whether there was a landowner’s duty to an invitee for a condition of the land. There was no evidence as to whether the Counties or Parks Board knew of Naegleria fowleri. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that there was no duty owed to Abel because they had no knowledge as to whether Naegleria fowleri existed. The Indiana Court of Appeals remanded this case back to the trial court with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of the County, Parks Board and Health Department.

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