Originally Posted by sjjohnston
You're right: the opinion consistently refers to it as a "hydrant." I pictured a gun, because of the nozzle and the fact it was 5-6 feet tall, but actually I'm not sure exactly what it was. Anyway, it was metal and pretty big.
This is probably a purely academic point, but a key (it seems to me) thing to note is that reasonableness is not the liability standard for the ski area. If it were, it would be (or would at least be close to) a garden-variety negligence standard. The "primary assumption of risk" theory holds the ski area to a lower duty.
While, at least in theory, it might not make a huge difference in many cases, the practical result would, I think, be significantly different if the ski areas were held to a plain old negligence test. It would be harder for a ski area to win on summary judgment, which would mean it would be easier to demand and get a settlement for about any colorable claim. The bottom line would be higher liability insurance premiums and presumably some combination of somewhat higher lift ticket prices and fewer ski areas.
Also worth noting: the case referred to is a California-law case. Other states may differ. In particular, most states with significant ski industries have a statute on the subject, but California doesn't. So far as I can tell, the common law in California, as described in the opinion above, is pretty similar to what's in the statutes, though.
Also...in Yuki's case; even under the primary assumption of the risk model; an obstacle in the finish area of a race, where the establised rules prohibit the same, might well not be a risk inherent in the activity, and if it caused injury, there could still be liability.