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10-31-2007, 10:21 PM #1
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- Jan 2006
Quadriplegic vs. Park City Mountain Resort (lawsuit results)
Quadriplegic vs. Park City Mountain Resort
Mixed decision in ski lawsuit
High court overturns gross negligence ruling, but upholds two others
By Mike Gorrell
The Salt Lake Tribune
In a case with potentially big implications for the Utah ski industry, the Utah Supreme Court handed down a mixed decision Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by a Utah man against Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) after he was paralyzed there in a 2001 skiercross┬ race.
Justices ruled that James Gordon "V.J." Berry V is entitled to a trial on his claims that the resort was grossly negligent in its design and construction of the race-course jump where Berry fell, suffering a neck injury that left him a quadriplegic.
But they also sustained a lower court's decision affirming that the resort could not be sued for common negligence because Berry had signed a pre-race release of liability and indemnity agreement. The justices also upheld a ruling that PCMR was not subject to a strict liability claim because, even if skiercross races are dangerous, it was Berry's decision to compete.
All three claims against PCMR had been dismissed summarily by 3rd District Judge J. Dennis Frederick.
The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Frederick's ruling on the gross negligence charge was applauded by attorney Richard Van Wagoner. "Mr. Berry was rendered a quadriplegic as a result of the accident, and now we'll have the opportunity to present his case to a jury and see what the fact finders determine."
Kevin Simon, who represented the resort, said "overall, this is a significant victory for Utah's ski resorts and other recreational providers in this state." The ski industry has been concerned about lawsuits challenging the enforceability of releases that protect resorts from liability if a recreator is injured while skiing or snowboarding.
One suit, Rothstein versus Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, is pending before the Utah Supreme Court.
Berry's case involved the King of the Wasatch skiercross race in February 2001. Then a 26-year-old expert skier, Berry had advanced through the first three heats of the competition, in which four racers compete head-to-head as they hurtle down a course with sharp turns and jumps.
On his fourth trip down the course, the court ruling said Berry was forced to the far left side of a jump, a position that resulted in him outjumping the landing zone, crashing and fracturing his neck. Permanent paralysis resulted.
In allowing Berry to argue that PCMR was grossly negligent, the Supreme Court said a summary judgment on that point was inappropriate without giving the plaintiff a chance to show that PCMR's course deviated from a "proper standard of care."
The justices noted that his claim must show that PCMR exhibited "the failure to observe even slight care; it is carelessness or recklessness to a degree that shows utter indifference to the consequences that result."
They also observed that PCMR had marked takeoff points for jumps with blue paint, had sculpted berms just before jumps to slow racers down, required competitors to wear helmets and to check out the course at least twice before the race, and allowed one practice run.
The justices observed that "the light was 'flat,' which hindered depth perception and made it difficult for participants to make out aspects of the course. The snow-covered surface of the course was packed particularly hard."
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11-01-2007, 04:11 AM #2
- Join Date
- Feb 2007
- I'm not sure anymore
good thing i won't be on his jury. he wouldn't get a dime from me. wasn't like someone put a gun to his head and said race you fool, race.I can see your point, but you are still full of shit!
11-01-2007, 07:05 AM #3
Originally Posted by denaliguide
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- Jan 2007
- In Nothing But Sunshine
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