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Lawsuit!

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I know that everyone likes to get their meathooks into these things, so here's another:

Plaintiff Wins Over $2 Million in Snowboard Accident

Bear Valley, CA (Friday, May 17, 2002) - A jury has found that a dangerously designed snowboard jump resulted in paraplegia for a young woman, awarding over $2 million to the plaintiff in the case of Charlene Vine v. Bear Valley Ski Company, a California resort located south of Lake Tahoe. The jury also found, however, that the plaintiff was also negligent and shared responsibility for her injury with the ski resort. The San Mateo-based law firm of O'Reilly, Collins & Danko, who represented the plaintiff in this action, announced the decision yesterday.

The case was tried in San Francisco Superior Court, with The Hon. Paul Alvarado presiding. The verdict was handed down April 8.

According to Mike Danko, lead attorney in the case, in April 2000, right after Bear Valley ski resort closed for the season, it constructed a snowboard jump for its employees for their use at an employee party. Danko alleged that the snowboard jump was badly designed, especially in the landing area. "There were several problems in the design," said Danko. It was alleged that the angle at the take-off area was too sharp; that the landing area actually ran uphill; that the difference in the angle was only 5 degrees, making it hard to see from the start of the jump; and that the landing area was rock hard because of icy conditions. Vine hit the landing hard and flat on her back, which testimony equated to the force of falling off a 12-foot ladder. Vine broke her back at the T-12 vertebral area, leaving her a paraplegic.

Danko also noted that skiing or snowboarding accidents are rarely tried and even more rarely won on behalf of a plaintiff. "There is always an assumed risk in a potentially dangerous sport like skiing. But in this specific case, there was a subtle yet dangerous flaw in the design. We were also aware that the builder had a previous record of unsafe ski jump configurations," Danko added without further explanation.

The jury awarded a $4,440,000 verdict, but noted that the responsibility was almost equally divided so that the plaintiff will be permitted to recover just over $2 million plus medical bills in an amount to be determined by the judge. Vine lives in Murphys, California, a small town in California's gold country.

Spokespeople for Bear Valley did not return calls seeking comment on the verdict.

[ May 18, 2002, 09:07 AM: Message edited by: AC ]
post #2 of 22
Wouldn't you want to check a jump before you go off it? :
post #3 of 22
Seems like it's better to check your bank balance.
post #4 of 22
Good point, Fox. People sue because they can. I just heard about a group of Mexicans who are sueing the US government for a couple of million dollars.

It seems they were trying to cross the boarder, illegally. One section was heavily guarded, so they had to cross the desert. Some family members died of dehydration. They are sueing because the US did not provide "water stations" in the desert! :

Its cases like this that make people believe they can sue for anything!
post #5 of 22
What a bunch of crap.
post #6 of 22
I am sure that Gonzo or Sugar will correct me if appropriate.

In many jurisdictions a jury award is subject to judicial review .... however, the award may be reduced, in some cases significantly reduced. They examine if the award is appropriate for the type and severity of injury and also similiar awards that preceded the individual case.
post #7 of 22
Wow-
I am extremely disappointed! Bear Valley is my home hill ( I still have a home there)! Knowing the people who run the place, and many of those who work there, I can only imagine what a bummer it is.

Interestingly- BV was the first ski area in the Sierra's to create a full blown, dedicated snowboard park.

I feel for anybody who is badly injured, and it is interesting that the jury/ court found equal negligence. The lawyers here with us would know better, but isn't that kind of rare?

In Colorado, thanks to the original skier safety act of 1979, and Senate Bill 80, ( of 1989) skiers/boarders may NOT sue for many of the the causes which have resulted in huge awards previously. There have been several challenges to the state law, but to date, none have succeeded.

Maybe every state which has skiing/boarding needs to look at this legislation as a beginning to holding the skiers/boarders accountable for their own safety!

:
post #8 of 22
Again, we have been presented with the suggestion that a lawsuit gave lots of money to someome who should have known better. Again, we do not have all pertinent evidence, as did the court and the jury, or at least they had more than we. Perhaps this is not the time for answers - it's the time for questions. I would like to know, for example, what happened to the others who used the jump at that time - just for starters. I'd like to know if the ski area did something they "should have known better" than to do. That $2 mil is a lot - and so is the injury. But the questions that the court, the lawyers and the jury had to face were: What is the applicable law? What are the relevant facts? How does that law apply to these facts?

These lawsuit posts always are interesting, as they raise questions. I am never amazed or surprised, however, that otherwise intelligent people have "the answer" but precious few questions.

[ May 18, 2002, 07:46 PM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #9 of 22
I agree Oboe, all we are presented with in that article is the moneygrabber's legal excuses as to why they deserved so much. If these were the arguments used in court, then we have their answers, from which we can make our own judgement. (isn't that how court works, you listen to an argument, and make a judgement?). So, we don't have the defense argument, but do we need it in this case? We are presented with why the plaintiff felt it was valid to sue, and when I read what is written in this lawyer's statement, my opinion is that the court got it wrong.
Do I have all the answers? Of course not.
Did anyone involved have them all? Probably not.
Can I make a judgement about a sport, based solely on my knowledge of the sport, and not on legalese? Yes, and I do anytime I'm involved in a sport.
If there is already a responsibilty code in place, then why should other laws be required, unless using the code would have shifted the guilt onto the plaintiff.

I'm not a lawyer. I live in the real world.

S
post #10 of 22
Sorry, just wanted to add after that rant...

Stories like this one can create, or reinforced, or confirm national stereotypes.

S
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
Good point, Fox. People sue because they can. I just heard about a group of Mexicans who are sueing the US government for a couple of million dollars.

It seems they were trying to cross the boarder, illegally. One section was heavily guarded, so they had to cross the desert. Some family members died of dehydration. They are sueing because the US did not provide "water stations" in the desert! :

Its cases like this that make people believe they can sue for anything!
In case anyone is wondering, this is the REAL definiition of chutzpah. As far as national stereotypes go, this story shows that Americans are not the only ones.
post #12 of 22
This case is not at all like the Deer Valley case. In that case a skier falls getting off a chairlift, the lifty and other employees try to help her up, she accepts their help and a freak accident occurs. She tears her ACL and sues DV and the helpers. I don't think helpers acting in good faith should get sued.

This case is different. It reminds me of the ladies gymnastics competition in the Sidney games in which the vault was erroneously set 2" too low. Now gymnastics vaulting is inherently dangerous. There have been paraplygic injuries. So 18 gymnasts vault with some spectacular falls, and finally a coach notices the height problem. Who's fault? Not the gymnasts', I'd say.

In snowboarding, perhaps the solution is that whoever builds or OK's the ramp jumps off first.

Frankly, I am surprise these ramps and terrain parks even exist. I remember when aerials on skis were strictly forbidden, for fear of spinal injuries and lawsuits.
post #13 of 22
We are the only country in the world that allows attorneys to make a living the way they do. It's totally despicable and the main reason the country's going to hell so fast. What you reward you get more of. I think we have way too many ambulance chasers. The ABA should be changed to the AACA.
post #14 of 22
Bridgeman , I can hear your frustration. Some things you may want to know: Not all lawyers belong to the ABA - I don't. All lawyers who belong to the ABA are not in the business of suing people - many, who are like me, rarely go to court [did before, don't now]. We are basically advisors and wordsmiths. When lawyers like me are involved in litigation, we most usually are defending or otherwise protecting our business client - for example, I had to get a court order directing a particular individual not to open our sealed electric vault boxes, as he had been doing for his own nefarious reasons. The court gave us the order, her was duly served, and the practice stopped.

There is a LARGE number of bad cases brought - and when the system is working well, they're weeded out. Since each of the fifty states has their own law and legal systems - in addition to the federal body of law and legal systems - the problem of ridiculous litigation and absurdly high verdicts varies widely from state to state.

On the matter of whether the snowboard jump was negligently built, or whether the lifties at DV should have been held accountable, that depends on ALL the facts which are in evidence in the case - and I am not yet convinced that the news media are all that good at conveying that kind of information to us - although they're getting better. The news as reported on this website just might report all the evidence we need to know what happened - and it might not.

We're all frustrated by reports which convince us that injustice was done and that someone was improperly enriched or otherwise benefited by it. In some cases, like the acquital of O. J. Simpson, people like me - like ME!!! - actually believe that the son of a bitch did the deed and got away with murder. Still, I am convinced that news accounts of cases that just PISS US OFF have not identified the real problems with the justice systems - all fifty, the federal, plus others. When they start showing the differences in how each state deals with these lawsuits, how in some states the courts are a "justice system" in name only, how in some states outrageous, obscene huge verdicts are passed out as a matter of course and affect all settlement negotiations - THEN we, the public, may start to get some useful idea of just what the REAL problems are, WHERE they are, and WHY they are.
post #15 of 22
It would be interesting to know what constitutes a SAFE jump vs an UNSAFE jump. I've seen some nasty spills from boarders and skiers launching off ramps, jumps and table tops. Not to mention the damage caused by rails and mailboxes.....ouch
Don't expect the press to get the facts straight they have enough problems getting the names right.
post #16 of 22
Grrrrrr... :

Betcha there won't be a terrain park there next season.
post #17 of 22
I suppose if I was sitting around facing the prospect of a wheelchair for life I would find it hard to be objective. Might as well get what you can if the legal system allows it. $2 mill will be a nice help for her.
post #18 of 22
It seems like there are a few issues in order for a tort to stick or become unglued:

If a "normal" kicker/ramp angle is "X" degrees and a "normal" landing ramp is "X" degrees and they adhered to the "standard formula", perhaps no tort.

If they were in excess of "reasonably anticipated" angles for the ramps ........ and .... just to up the ante, they were overheard talking about getting some "bitchin footage of face plants", bring on the lawyers!

Each set of circumstances is quite unique and the "disclaimer" on the ticket is quite useless.
post #19 of 22
Ditto on the ticket disclaimer being quite useless
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by BillA:
It would be interesting to know what constitutes a SAFE jump vs an UNSAFE jump. I've seen some nasty spills from boarders and skiers launching off ramps, jumps and table tops. Not to mention the damage caused by rails and mailboxes.....ouch
Don't expect the press to get the facts straight they have enough problems getting the names right.
Exactly, especially when jumps deteriorate after time with or without salt... Will it be required for jumps to have a certain angle of takeoff and landing that is checked and maintained every hour? That is impossible.

But if you don't understand the want/need for terrain parks and halfpipes, then don't degrade them - plently of skiers appreciate them... what's more popular in America, ski racing or the X-Games? Yeah...
post #21 of 22
vot a choke
post #22 of 22
ummm, the "landing" was going 5 degrees UPHILL?? Who the hell in their right mind intentionally lands airs on anything remotely resembling that, much less build a jump that leads to that type of landing? There's also the timeworn chestnut "look before you leap" that should come into play. If I were to read into the original post a bit it would seem that flat or a little bit of downhill grade would have been acceptable, this too seems ludicrous. Definately missing facts think I. Still frustrating to read about like this, though.
joel
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