Ark. court asked to weigh in on Albert Pike cases

TEXARKANA (AP) - A federal judge is asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to weigh in on a legal issue in multiple civil lawsuits filed by relatives of the 20 people killed in flash floods at a southwest Arkansas campground.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey halted proceedings in 11 separate suits over the 2010 flooding at the Albert Pike campground, which is operated by the U.S. Forest Service. The Texarkana Gazette reports that Hickey wants the state's highest court to interpret the word "malicious" as used in the Arkansas Recreational Use Statute.

The government argues that the statute bars lawsuits against landowners who don't charge a fee for recreational use. However, the law makes an exception if the landowner "maliciously" fails to warn about conditions or activities known to be dangerous.

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