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Wyoming Supreme Court rules..

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
that if your injured by a ski lift you MIGHT be basically SOL as they concluded that "the risks of riding on ski lifts may be considered part of the inherent risk of skiing under Wyoming state law".

Here is a link to the entire ruling:

it's the first listing
post #2 of 17
Originally Posted by JHrefugee View Post
that if your injured by a ski lift you MIGHT be basically SOL as they concluded that "the risks of riding on ski lifts may be considered part of the inherent risk of skiing under Wyoming state law".

Here is a link to the entire ruling:

it's the first listing
I kind of liked that ruling.

I have no clue how this woman managed to injure herself, considering that several hundred thousand riders (millions perhaps) have somehow negotiated the boarding of that gondola without getting their feet caught under the ski rack.

What's kind of humorous is that the attorney representing the plaintiff has his office directly above mine. He's threatening to take the case all the way to the US Supremes (assuming he has some kind of grounds). He's planning to challenge the constitutionality of Wyoming's Recreational Safety Act.

That act basically says that certain outdoor activities (such as skiing, horseback riding, hunting, etc) are inherently somewhat dangerous. When you participate in those activities, you're assuming most of the responsibility for injury. The Wyoming court apparently left the door open for a plaintiff to prove negligence or whatever, but the benefit of the doubt appears to be going against the victim.

The attorney was quoted as saying something along the lines of "this ruling is just another infringement of rights of the citizens of Wyoming". That's actually pretty ironic as his client is a Hawaiian.

Here's the story from today's Daily:

http://www.jacksonholenews.com/artic...9 5d9136d3a08
post #3 of 17
Good for the state of Wyoming!
The inheirant risks of extreme sports have to be considered by the participants.

(this coming from a risk managment officer of a motocross track: )
post #4 of 17
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
The attorney was quoted as saying something along the lines of "this ruling is just another infringement of rights of the citizens of Wyoming". That's actually pretty ironic as his client is a Hawaiian.
That's great! It's no wonder lawyers get such a bad reputation.
post #5 of 17
Wow Tibiia is a rather large bone to break. You got to wonder if this 52 year old women weak bones from Osteoporosis. I have personally seen one women about the same age fall down getting off a chair lift because the tail of her ski was on top of the tail of her friends ski. When her friend skied off exiting the chair lift first, she fell down directly on her but and broke her pelvis. Here again the injuries may have been increased because of a Osteoporosis. If ski areas had to pay millions of dollars every time a skier put their ski on top of the person next to them when exiting a chair lift, nobody would be able to afford to ski.

All that said, I will be watching my feet now on when I get on a gondola. I hate to say but just maybe the design of the Gondola could be improved to avoid this one in a million situation.
post #6 of 17
I got my boot caught under the open door of a gondola once. I am fairly agile and got it unstuck before the operator stopped the Jongdola. If I had been injured I would not have sued the Ski area.

I am glad common sense is winning this one. I would also like to see the Ski area recover costs for having to defend against these lawsuits.

I also wonder why the Gondola manufacturer or installer was not sued. If there were any blame to be placed on anyone it would be a design defect that would allow this to happen?

Still there are inherent risks when riding a ski lift of any kind.
post #7 of 17
I think there are inherent risks....still, that shouldn't remove the ski areas responsibility to take reasonable precautions to avoid preventable injuries. Neither should inherent risk remove an individual's right to sue if the area was negligent, in my opinion. I seem to be the only one here with that opinion though. In the end the fact that possibly millions of people had previously used the lift without injury would seem to demolish the case. That ought to be the deciding factor, the unreasonableness of the plaintiff's claim. I know I would be outraged in the event I was seriously injured because of some stupidly dangerous condition that the ski area couldn't be bothered to fix and not allowed to go after them because their negligence was assumed to be part of the supposed risk of the sport. I'm willing to accept the risks inherent in the sport but not those caused by a ski area's negligence. In this case its pretty hard to see negligence.
post #8 of 17
I agree oisin. I think that without seeing *any* evidence, it appears to me to be a freak occurrence that did not occur as the result of negligence. I don't discount the fact that ski areas are just as capable of being negligent as any other business and deserve to be sued in such circumstances. Unfortunately some people's interpretation of the term negligent seems to change once they're the ones who are injured or at least the level of negligence seems to be proportional to how much money they think they can get in a lawsuit.
post #9 of 17
I'm pretty sure that the ruling left open the possibility of damages from negligence. Which is good.

I will say it reminds of a case I heard about in Mexico. Some tourist stepped in a hole in the sidewalk & badly sprained their ankle. Being a good gringo, they sued the property owner. The *only* defense from the property owner: they went out one day and counted how many people walked on the sidewalk and stepped over or around the hole. Plaintiff got nothing - which is awesome.

post #10 of 17
I know my next statement may invite ridicule and abuse, but I am a personal injury attorney in hawaii. Apparently, our citizens have decided to branch out and file claims in other states. We have a similar law here that says that a liability release waiver is effective for "risks that are inherent" to the sport. Here, it's not skiing, but bicycling, surfing, wind surfing, etc. The question is whether the risk causing injury is one created by the operator. I've had to research this issue many times and you might be surprised to learn that in a lot of places, the releases are good, not only for risks inherent to the sport, but the operators negligence as well. Believe me, if you or a family member is seriously injured as a result of a clear screw up on the part of the operator, you will have a different attitude on a release like that. Believe it or not, sometimes these small activity operators don't have the most qualified people operating their activity. Not to be on a soap box, but the public's perception is different than those of us in the business. I think the media would have everyone believe that insurance companies are lining up to write big checks. Trust me, they fight like dogs to keep their money.Also jurys are generally not nuts. Every potential juror believes most lawsuits are frivolous and by God, they are not going to be like all those crazy juries that are giving millions of dollars because someone stubbed their toe. Don't get me wrong, I know there are attys who are pushing the edges of trying to get out of anyone having personal responsibility. However, I don't believe that's as common as you would believe. I know PI attoreys are not perfect, but trust me neither are insurance companies or their attys. Anyway, that's my 2 cents.
post #11 of 17
What I see here is a knee jerk reaction. Whether it's good news or bad news depends upon whether the ski area did something blameworthy and negligent. Screwing up a lift by a ski area is not a risk "inherent" in the sport of skiing any more than being hit head on by a car is a risk "inherent" in driving. Sure, the "risk" is there, but it happens 99% of the time due to the negligence of one or the other party,

There is a clear distinction between "inherent risks" of the sport n and "major f ___ ups" of a ski area's personnel.

Truly negligent parties should be held accountable for their negligence.

There ARE ridiculous suits, and there also CAN BE some very well founded suits. They're not all the same. Although I have a soft spot for ski areas - as I work for one part time and it also happens to be a major customer of my full time employer - I personally feel that this "I'd never sue a ski area" mantra is a bunch of garbage. Anything I've previously posted to the contrary is hereby superceded.
post #12 of 17
P.S. My post is not an objection to the ruling, as it is based upon statutory law and facts to be found by a jury. In the event that the injured party is not able to show negligence on the part of the defendant resort, in any case, the matter would be moot. In this case, I see no clear negligence on the part of the ski area defendant.

However, my objection to the mantra stands.
post #13 of 17
This pilot died last week so there is some sad irony in the following.

Had a hot air balloon land in our yard ten years ago. Wife asked my if I could fly one of those .... so she arranged for a ride/lesson for the two of us and I'd get to log it as time in the air. She paid almost $200 up front for the deal.

The day before the flight I opened a letter from the business, a retired airline pilot who lives on a farm down the road from me; the letter was a shocker .....

...... "for an additional $125, your flight can come with insurance if you do not wish to purchase this insurance, you must sign a waiver that releases the operator from death or injury caused by pilot error inncluding but not limited to intoxication by alcohol, drugs or insanity ..... " ...... yada, yada, yada!


What a scam. This guys knows that most flights are by couples, taken for a romantic moment and what kind of guy is gonna back out the day before the flight. Most probably just fork over the ransom money to keep sweetie happy and go for the ride.

I stopped by his office to cancell and wanted my money back. He informed me that this was "conventional in general aviation" ..... and that I just wasn't familiar with the norm.

I reminded him that we used to belong to the same pilots association .... ooops ..... and said that I'd see him in court.

He gave me my money back.

Sad he died last week ..... sounds like he had an engine failure and tried to return to his home field.
post #14 of 17
I'm against stupid "I hurt myself and someone's gonna pay" lawsuits. But I also get worried when ski areas try to absolve themselves in the event of one rider hitting another, by saying this is part of skiing's "inherant risks". Rubbish!
post #15 of 17
There is a definite difference between "negligence" and "inherant risk".
I rarely witness real negligence on the part of our local ski areas. In fact, I see a lot of extra effort put into safety, even to a point of protecting people from their own stupidity.
When reading this original article, I pictured what I see so many times with people seriously not doing what their supposed to do in getting on/off the lift.

I've only seen two serious injuries from the chair lift.
A woman broke her hip getting off the lift because an idiot jumped off the lift a few chairs behind her, and the rebound caused her to have major issues. The Jumper was chased down and will not be skiing at that resort any time soon.
Group of vacationers (oriental in appearance) fell in a heap getting off the chair and one broke her collar bone.
This group had been skiing all day long and NEVER mastered getting on/off the lift

Both of these situations were out of the control of the Risk Management Team of the ski resort.
post #16 of 17
This case needs a few more facts before I can impose my ruling :

From what I have, I don't see this as a clear-cut case of anything. If I accidentally stepped in the hole between the gondola and the deck, yeah, my fault. But if I screamed "stop the gondola" for 10 seconds, while the attendants ignored my cries for help, and my tibia snapped, then I'd see a negilgence issue.

I was taking a class up our high-speed detachable quad a few years ago, on a very crowded day. Someone, 2 groups in front, who was loading the chair, got tangled up with his chair mates, and fell forward when the chair hit the back of his legs. This was an average, middle-aged man. Not incompetant by any means. At the time, all three of the lifties working the base of the lift, were in the lift shack, and not paying attention as I was yelling at them to stop the lift (you could watch the whole situation develop, and it was obvious what was about to happen, then did happen). finally, in one motion, I dove for the red button with one hand while swinging my pole toward the shack door to get their attention. remember, this is a detach, which moves very slowly in the house. They had a lot of time to react and never did until after I stopped the chair. Had the chair moved another foot or two, the guy would have fallen off the loading ramp (all of a foot or so), as this chair, which rides very low to the ground dragged him along.

So, sure, there are some inherant dangers, but there is also some responsibility for lifties to do their job, which is to help load people safely on the lift and to pay attention to what's going on. Luckliy, this guy didn't get hurt, so their was no law suit, but had he been hurt, I could have seen some validity to a suit.
post #17 of 17
For what its worth, in my years as a ski instructor I was familiar with quite a few dangerous conditions at my ski area that were clearly avoidable.No matter how often we pointed these out to management, they seldom did anything to remedy them. I'll give an example. One year our ski area advertised widely in its literature and in the media that it had opened an exciting new glades area for skiing. This was actually nothing more than a flattish area of woods behind a mid mountain restaurant that had been thinned out, not very exciting at all and hardly worth bothering with but, as you might imagine, many of the people arriving at the area and especially the kids in ski school were eager to try these glades out. The ski area had brushed out the place just before first snowfall and seemingly dropped the task before finishing it. The brush and saplings they cut were left lying on the ground, most with the sharp butts pointing up hill. Often these sharpened stakes were left pointing into the air. The reminded me of the pointed stakes used by the Scots in Braveheart to bring down English cavalry. As if this were not enough, there were the sharpened ends of the stumps left in place to impale a skier who fell. You can imagine how hair raising it was to watch your young charges ski through this nightmare. Needless to say I was careful to keep them out of there afterward. As far as I know the glade was kept open and no effort was made to correct the situation that season at least. Most instructors are keenly aware of such hazards on the hill like buried 4x4s used to support lift line corrals at the bottom of beginner slopes, plank fencing used instead of rope mesh etc. because they try to see the hill with their student's eyes and try hard to keep their students from being injured but ski area management often seems to live on another planet.
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