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Who is responsible?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
An article in yesterday's SUMMIT DAILY NEWS (Summit County, Colorado) reports a Colorado Supreme Court ruling with serious ramifications for all recreational professionals and businesses, as well as for all parents. Since the link above will probably expire soon, here's a partial quote:

DENVER - A Colorado Supreme Court ruling concerning liability waivers for ski resorts also holds water for rafting companies. Waivers signed by parents do not prevent them from suing if their children are injured due to negligence.

The decision does not change legal matters for rafting, or any recreational activity for that matter, said Peter Rietz, an attorney for the U.S. Ski Association. Waivers have never prevented minors or their parents from suing in the event of negligence.

"This has been the state of the law for years," Rietz said. "The Supreme Court has simply said waivers are not enforceable because minors can disavow contracts until age 18, and parents cannot legally bind children."
--Amanda Roberson, Summit Daily News, July 28, 2002
While no waiver should (or does) excuse NEGLIGENCE, I find it amazing that parents should not have the right to waive liability on behalf of their minor children. And even more amazing that anyone should be able to sue their parents, or to disavow "contracts" made by their parents prior to their 18th birthday. What this really means is that any outfitter, guide, instructor, coach, or resort MUST take on an enormous, and unreasonable, risk if they are to allow minors to participate in anything they do--or even to enter their grounds! Since minors aren't able to sign a binding waiver, and their parents aren't able to either, it means NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE for them!

A related unacceptable implication, it seems to me, is that no one is responsible if a minor commits a crime. They aren't responsible, because they're minors. And their parents aren't responsible either, presumably because they didn't do it themselves. So who IS responsible?

Isn't this what parenthood is about--taking care of and responsiblility for those who lack the maturity to take responsibility themselves? Teaching children, supervisiing them, disciplining them, being responsible for their actions, and making decisions on their behalf, to the best of your OWN ability and judgement--isn't that what parents do? Isn't that what they HAVE to do? Isn't that what the law should REQUIRE them to do? If your kid commits a crime against me, it is YOUR responsibility, isn't it? You could have, and should have, prevented it, through teaching, setting an example, and/or supervision.

The article above goes on to describe a precedent-setting case from 1995, in which then 17 year-old budding ski-racer David Cooper lost control and hit a tree while training in Aspen, losing his eyesight. Despite waivers signed by his parents and himself, Cooper sued the Aspen Skiing Company, the Aspen Valley Ski Club, and the USSCA, claiming negligence. I don't know the details of the case--maybe there really WAS some sort of negligence--but I'll bet they were just race-training in the usual way. Race training, like any activity, entails inherent risks that MUST BE ASSUMED BY SOMEONE! But as the article goes on to say,

Essentially, the court said parents cannot waive their children's rights. And Cooper, because he was a minor, could not waive those rights for himself....
Seems to me that kids will have to delay their participation in ALL activities--delay their very life-training--until their 18th birthday! Our discussion of First, Learn to MOVE! becomes entirely moot--you can't AFFORD to let your kids learn to move! They can SUE you if they get hurt climbing a tree, playing kick the can, or virtually anything else--so you'd better not let them do it! And what professional in his/her right mind would want to assume the risk of helping your kids learn? Best put a helmet on them, pad the walls, and let them veg out in front of the TV until they turn 18.

Actually, you can't even FEED them without running a risk--another current news story cites the case of Caesar Barber, an unhealthily overweight (obvious) moron who is suing McDonalds, Wendy's, Burger King, and KFC for his obesity! Sorry, Caesar--fast food chains don't cause obesity--eating too much of their food does! YOU did that, not "them." Of course, your parents probably didn't teach you right--so sue 'em!

Sorry about the rant, but I'm curious what others think about this.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #2 of 38
They are not old enough to waive their rights or drink but nothing stops them from having children of their own.
post #3 of 38
Does this mean that no one under the age of 18 should be allowed into terrain parks, a major motivating factor for getting this age group involved in snowsports to begin with?

Bob, do you see any correlation between the fast food case and the tobacco industry suits? I am under the impression that because of the latter, this one is allowed to proceed with a smidgen of credibility.

I dunno...I'd like to know what Ed the Sock has to say.

[ July 29, 2002, 11:32 AM: Message edited by: Warren ]
post #4 of 38
Thread Starter 
It's an interesting question, Warren. Despite this case, remember that Colorado has a strong and well-tested law (Colorado Skier Safety Act of 1979) that protects resorts from being sued for anything resulting from the many "inherent risks" of skiing. I don't know about man-made terrain parks, though, since they clearly are not natural or "inherent" on any mountain--they are 100% created by the resort. And it is AMAZING how many severe injuries occur on today's parks. On the other hand, no one enters one without choosing to!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #5 of 38
The system ran out of resources and wiped my response

[ July 29, 2002, 12:01 PM: Message edited by: Nettie ]
post #6 of 38
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
Seems to me that kids will have to delay their participation in ALL activities--delay their very life-training--until their 18th birthday!
Well I guess I missed my chance. Let’s see, ran myself over with my parent’s car, age 3. Broke my arm falling off the monkey bars, age 6. Broke my collarbone jumping off a tire swing, age 8. Broke my ankle jumping on a trampoline age 14. Coulda been rich!

All kidding aside. It seems in our culture that you MUST blame someone for any injuries incurred living life. Sure parents have a huge responsibility to make certain that their kids are safe, but when you choose to partake in "risk" activities you accept that you may get injured.

PS forgot cracked my head open "spinning" around the living room. Many stiches.

[ July 29, 2002, 12:03 PM: Message edited by: Kima ]
post #7 of 38
Hey Kima, don't give up hope! Perhaps "latent" trauma suffered early in life will yet be "discovered" through psycho therapy, allowing you to recover damages from your youth which only recently, through the miracle of analysis you have become aware of. Not real funny, especially if you are a Children's Center Director holding releases until that 3 year old is 3 years past the age of majority! File management is increasingly a full time job in the biz....waiting for "the call" for discovery!
Bob, there is much hand-wringing in the neighbourhood, concerned over the latest park case out of Bear Valley (the employee party jump one)....but my biggest concern is the finding you are discussing....HUGE implications....and my Risk person shrugs about it!
Don't count on the release collection to stop! The deterent factor still exists and they will always find their way to court....but this one is scary! Reitz and guys like McClarety are sharp....and if they are scared the rest of us need to be.
post #8 of 38
Before anyone reads to much into the court's decision, a few thoughts. This is a very narrow decision that doesn't affect much. The case only deals with whether a parent may waive a child's right to sue in the case of an injury caused by negligence. It has little to do with whether the aspen ski company is liable for negligence. The case only stands for the proposition that the child can sue despite the fact his parnet signed a waiver. In addition, the case doesn't even consider the assumption of risk and inherent risk provisions in legislative acts such as the Ski Safety Act of 1979. Accordngly, even though the child can sue aspen ski company, his claims could still be denied by such other legislative acts. [It's interesting that in some states, you can never waive liability whether the person doing the waiving is a parent or a child. In those states, there are either statutes or a strong public policy against the ability of anyone to waive negligence.]

In order to win, the child still has to prove that there was negligence which given the facts in the opinion sounds pretty difficult especially with the Ski Safety Act recognizing iunherent risks in sports. All in all, I see it as a pretty minor decision. My guess is that the insurance company will simply settle with the Child and the case will die a quiet death.
post #9 of 38
This is not an attack on lawyers, but we do have a system where legislation/laws are written by (for the most part) lawyers, judged by lawyers, and attacked/defended by lawyers. I think there needs to be more balance to this system.

While I hate cases like the one Bob B. mentions I wouldn't want to to take a minor's rights away if the parents exercise poor judgement.
post #10 of 38
double post. see below

[ July 29, 2002, 03:15 PM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #11 of 38
What Skidmo said. As for what Lucky said, there's a remedy: Run for the Legislature. In Connecticut, at least some years ago when I followed such stuff, most legislators were lawyers. Not so here in Vermont, where lawyers in the legislture are in a small minority. All in all, as Skidmo has said, the Colorado decision is not a biggy and won't change much.
post #12 of 38
When a lawyer has done well for you, you love them. When they've done well against you, you despise them.

I've been the beneficiary of outstanding legal work.

I'm all for lawyers and the amount they charge.
post #13 of 38
And, skiing is a very dangerous sport.

You show up, you take the risk - you assume the risk.
post #14 of 38
Hmmmmmmmmm ...... maybee AC should have had us sign waivers?

Many of SCSA's posts have caused me grave psychological distress. Could AC have prevented forseeable harm to my forseeable person?

I'm skiing along in a dream ...... soft velvety fresh powder ...... and I start a wedge ..... an innocent little wedge ......

Then I wake up screaming ....... : :
post #15 of 38

That's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me.
post #16 of 38
Contrary to what many think, Legislatures in most states are not comprised mostly of lawyers. However, As Americans we do pride ourselves as being a nation of laws, not of men. We use the legal system to resolve all sorts of disputes and use the legislative process to pass laws to deal with all sorts of problems.

Does the system always work? The answer is no. However, few things devised by man do. As Oboe said, the Colorado court’s decision, whether you like it or not, is no different from the existing law in most places.

Edited for typos. [img]redface.gif[/img]

[ July 31, 2002, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: Lostboy ]
post #17 of 38
There is a standard alternative to the involvement of lawyers in our system: The jury.
post #18 of 38
Shit. The issue is complex. Humanity vis Law. Law vis Humanity.

One would hope that those that get injured, so as to be dependant on others, are looked after.

We pay to ski ... Ski resorts operate for profit ... is there a middle ground?


[ July 30, 2002, 05:55 AM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #19 of 38
Originally posted by SCSA:

I'm all for lawyers and the amount they charge.
I hereby rescind and forever disclaim any disparaging, rude, scurrilous, unkind, sarcastic, obnoxious, insulting, condescending or otherwise, in any way whatsoever abusive statement, comment, response, declaration or any other communication, whether verbal,written or cyber, which I or any of my agents, employees, subordinates, contractors, partners, corporations or any other person or entity associated with me in any way whatsoever, may have made about you.

You are a great and insightful man.
post #20 of 38
You forgot stupid, lazy, and disrespectful....
shut up and fix me a turkey pot pie!
post #21 of 38
It's my understanding that this case has made it to the state supreme court because they have lost twice before, therefore they appealed to get the verdict they want. Please tell me how does the system work when they lose their case in the lower courts, but continue their case in order to get the verdict they want. It's all about the money, nothing else. I know these people and they are greedy Americans looking for their payout. As for lawyers, there is just too many of them and they have to make a living so they look for work where they can find it.
post #22 of 38
Bonni makes a funny.

I also tell her, "Quit watching Sex And the City. Too many women with two last names and I don't want you gettin any ideas".
post #23 of 38
Your women shouldn't have time to watch the TV, they should be attending to your every need.

post #24 of 38
I want two things:

1) a psychiatrist specializing in "recovered memories" therapy

2) a whorish plaintiff's lawyer who will help me recover millions for my repressed memories of learning that I have to assume responsibility for my own actions. when my mother taught me that basic truism, she was abusing me -- OBVIOUSLY!
post #25 of 38
Originally posted by Wear the fox hat ?:
Your women shouldn't have time to watch the TV, they should be attending to your every need.

what on Earth does this have to do with Bob Barnes's topic?

cut it out, Zorro. please.
post #26 of 38
those who are quick to blame "lawyers" for Bob's complaints should take a step back.

sleazy, whorish plaintiff's lawyers are not the same thing as ALL lawyers. they are the legal equivalent of the medical quacks (chiroquacktors, faith healers, crystal therapists).

the blame lies with three groups of people.

1) the people who are so greedy as to believe they have no responsibility to themselves or others, and therefore deserve $$$ when they are injured in any emotional or physical way

2) the whorish plaintiff's lawyers who fan the flame of the "blame game" fire started by the folks in (1)

3) the juries who allow themselves to be swayed by emotional arguments that have little to do with law, ethics or morality, and have everything to do with a bogus false dichotomy touted by the whorish plaintiff's lawyer (i.e., this poor woman was sitting in her son's Audi, minding her own business with a cup of coffee in her lap, when suddenly the coffee LEAPT out of the cup and severely scalded her genitalia. Should we blame her for the temperature of the coffee?).... and it goes on and on
post #27 of 38
Maybe there should be some qualifications for jurors besides the attorney's challenges. I've been on jury duty with some real morons and some who showed the behavior of sheep. A lot of people, who I think would make good jurors, manage to get out of it.
post #28 of 38

The principle that a person is entitled to a trial before a jury of their peers is compromised every day. Many, especially those in the work force, find that competing considerations for their time take priority. They try desperately to avoid jury service. The net result is that juries are often disproportionately comprised of retirees, the unemployed, and others not in the work force who feel that they have the time to serve or can not come up with an excuse not to.

Jury duty avoidance strategies include not registering to vote in the generally mistaken assumption that names for jury service are simply taken from voter registration lists. Depending on the locale, multiple lists, including driver license lists etc. are used to produce jury pools from which potential jurors are contacted. Many places do not rely on voter lists at all.

Other than paying taxes, the USA does not demand a lot from its citizens. Many European countries have universal military service requirements in peacetime as well as in times of conflict and other obligations their citizens must meet. Plus, they pay higher taxes.

People rail against our justice system yet look for all kinds of excuses to avoid jury service. As that swamp critter Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he us".

Sorry for the rant. I admit these comments have strayed far from the topic of skiing.

[ August 01, 2002, 12:39 PM: Message edited by: Lostboy ]
post #29 of 38
lostboy, I don't think you've strayed. Bob Barnes raised this issue for a reason -- it extends to the notion of skier liability and when (if ever) is it proper to sue someone else for your own injury suffered while skiing.

The Missoulian (my local paper) had a great letter to the editor today, discussing why it is peoples' values hav become so far apart from personal responsibility and so close to emotionally appealing "quick fixes" that actually do long-term harm. I found myself in full agreement.

Go here to read the letter, it's the bottom one written by a man named David Werner. Although it discusses the idiocy and wrongheadedness of teaching computers rather than the classics, I think it equally applicable to the downfall of our justice system.

[ August 01, 2002, 01:15 PM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
post #30 of 38
Dan McClarehty an attorney who represents most NM ski areas....Peter's counterpart in Chile land...told me of a twist in what jury may sit a ski area case.
Ski Apache NM was sued for negligence in a case....and a judge in Texas found that the case would be tried in Texas! He claimed the jurisdicton based on the mere fact that the company advertised in the Lone Star state therefore conducting business there.
Jury selection in these cases is easy...one side tries to identify individuals who ski and logically assume risk the other side tries to pick timid chesterfield tubors who rarely leave the house! In Texas....picking hayseed Bubba is far more likely than a student at CU Boulder.
I am not (obviously) very knowledgeable about the law and I don't know all the particulars but this seems shifty.
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