Pennsylvania is one of forty-six states that has enacted a recreational use statute for the purpose of encouraging landowners to open up their land to the public for recreational purposes.  The Pennsylvania Recreational Use Act, 68 P.S. § 477, generally provides that a property owner who directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any person to use their property for recreational purposes shall be immune from civil liability for injury to such persons.
 
While “swimming” is amongst the recreational activities specifically enumerated within this statute, Pennsylvania courts have limited the application of the Recreational Use Act to outdoor recreation on largely unimproved land.  As such, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has held that indoor swimming pool facilities are excluded from the scope of the statute.  Rivera v. Philadelphia Theological Seminary of St. Charles Borromeo, Inc., 507 A.2d 1 (Pa. 1986).  
 
It does not appear that Pennsylvania courts have had occasion to determine whether the Pennsylvania Act would serve to protect the owner of an outdoor residential swimming pool.  However, the Rivera Court does refer to several other jurisdictions with nearly identical statutes, stating that a vast majority of them have held that the recreational use statute does not govern the liability of owners of outdoor pools.  Given this statement by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, it is relatively safe to assume that Pennsylvania courts would fall in line with the majority of jurisdictions that have determined that outdoor pool owners are not immune from liability. 
 
Ian Abovitz is a member of Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Abovitz.