Assistant attorney general Peggy Stone said the state is disappointed that the majority didn't side with Parrish's opinion. She said the Legislature will have to determine whether the court's finding that wildlife is not a natural condition was what they intended.
"That's exactly what it comes down to, to what the Legislature meant by (natural condition)," Stone said. "Two (justices) said wildlife was included and three said it wasn't."
She said the high court's determination that wildlife are not a natural condition exception could have implications in the future. In this specific case, though, it simply means that Ives' family can pursue their lawsuit against the state.
"It was a tragedy and everyone feels horrible that Sam Ives lost his life and there's sympathy there," Stone said. "That's why immunity cases are hard, because somebody suffered a real loss and the question is, 'How much is the state liable for that?' Those are always tough questions."
The boy's family was previously awarded a $1.95 million judgment from U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball, who found that the Forest Service — which owns the land where the boy was killed — held 65 percent of the responsibility for the boy's death and had breached its duty to the public.
Kimball said the state Division of Wildlife Resources carried 25 percent of the responsibility and the boy's family 10 percent, because a granola bar wrapper and soda can were found in his tent.
The family's attorney, Tyler Young, said Friday that both he and his clients are "quite pleased" with the Utah Supreme Court ruling and will pursue a jury trial in 4th District Court.
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