Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
JayB

Jury gives $14 mil to skier paralyzed at Snoqalmie

Recommended Posts

I guess you were being sarcastic when you wrote that "errors" of this kind will kill ski areas, too, eh? There is a 20 year old case where Stevens Pass was successfully sued for not properly marking an "improved" ski run, where the same idea of a ski area's responsibility to properly warn of hazards, and to make sure that when they alter terrain they do so safely was at issue. And I think there is a fifty year old case where a ski club in Leavenworth was sued over their waiver for use of the ski jump that remains there till this day. Somehow, despite this legal system you so abhor, we do not see trees wrapped in memory foam and there are ski runs at places like Jackson Hole where one could easily get killed on a regular marked run, along with regularly skied "runs" that I'd bet even cc.com's hero Sky might not attempt (not to insult anybody's manhood, but SS has a serious drop-in and I bet Sky would not be threatened by this statement).

 

Lest you fall back on how jury awards have grown out of control, check the studies undertaken by the ambulance chasers that have largely debunked that myth, as well. I don't think the insurance industry has done very well at refuting those results, if you look at the actual numbers - though I am sure any resolution of the "argument" is far from clear.

 

Face it: your argument was that the jury system is flawed. Well duh. But to the extent you seek to suggest that we need to take these important matters away from juries, or that criminal cases like OJ are not properly tried before a jury, you are getting awfully close to arguing against one of the founding principals of this nation. I'd think you guys who rail against government's abuse of power would be all for juries: it may be the number one way in which power is reserved for the poor little victims of the government - you and I. To the extent that you think the legal system has been perverted and the framers intent has not been realized, I'd think you might call for greater involvement of "the people" in our justice system -- not lawyers or government appointed "experts" or "regulation" such as tort reform or increased mandatory sentencing.

Edited by mattp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can think of a million other cases where this definition of liability would apply, and if the judgment stands, probably will.

 

Where? Cornices again? Straightlining glades? As mattp has pointed out the precedent being set isn't particularly new, nor is the size of the judgement. Massanutten had to pay $6.2million for an unmarked cliff a decade ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess you were being sarcastic when you wrote that "errors" of this kind will kill ski areas, too, eh? There is a 20 year old case where Stevens Pass was successfully sued for not properly marking an "improved" ski run, where the same idea of a ski area's responsibility to properly warn of hazards, and to make sure that when they alter terrain they do so safely was at issue. And I think there is a fifty year old case where a ski club in Leavenworth was sued over their waiver for use of the ski jump that remains there till this day. Somehow, despite this legal system you so abhor, we do not see trees wrapped in memory foam and there are ski runs at places like Jackson Hole where one could easily get killed on a regular marked run, along with regularly skied "runs" that I'd bet even cc.com's hero Sky might not attempt (not to insult anybody's manhood, but SS has a serious drop-in).

 

Lest you fall back on how jury awards have grown out of control, check the studies undertaken by the ambulance chasers that have largely debunked that myth, as well. I don't think the insurance industry has done very well at refuting those results, if you look at the actual numbers - though I am sure any resolution of the "argument" is far from clear.

 

Face it: your argument was that the jury system is flawed. Well duh. But to the extent you seek to suggest that we need to take these important matters away from juries, or that criminal cases like OJ are not properly tried before a jury, you are getting awfully close to arguing against one of the founding principals of this nation. I'd think you guys who rail against government's abuse of power would be all for juries: it may be the number one way in which power is reserved for the poor little victims of the government - you and I. To the extent that you think the legal system has been perverted and the framers intent has not been realized, I'd think we might be calling for greater involvement of "the people" in our justice system -- unless you think justice should be up to evil lawyers.

 

My argument wasn't that the jury system needs to be replaced by anything else, but that juries are fallible and sometimes make poor decisions. I think that this is one of those cases. If the system were designed on the basis of the notions that juries were infallible, there would be no provision for appeals.

 

Will this kill off resort skiing, no? Does it have the potential to adversely affect the aspects of the sport that I care most about? I think it does.

 

On our last trip to Whistler, I watched a novice skiier going way, way faster than his skills warranted cruise down a groomed slope and completely eat shit after colliding with a death cookie that had rolled onto the groomer from the cornice above. A groomed slope is every bit as "engineered" as a jump, so I can't see how the resort wouldn't be liable in the event of a lawsuit by the said gaper, or any of hundreds of other circumstances that would also expose ski resorts to liability under the same premise that this lawsuit is based upon.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In light of the long-standing history of ski operator liability that I referred to above, citing just a couple of cases that I happen to have stumbled across in my own practice with has almost nothing to do with tort liability issues, I'm not sure this particular result will put the huge damper on terrain parks that you fear. I am also not sure that the jury made a mistake in the first place.

 

However, if you want to fall back from suggesting that "the jury system is not in the public interest" (or something like that) to juries make mistakes sometimes I won't argue. If you want to argue that THIS jury made a mistake, or that the concept of "contributory negligence" is sound, I won't put up much argument either.

 

Note: the basic idea of "contributory negligence" is not a new one, and in fact I think it is a several hundred year old idea that we borrowed from English common law. If your gaper is skiing like an idiot, not watching where they are going, and "eats shit" because a cornice fell off and sits in the middle of a ski run, their degree of responsibility for said accident is in fact taken into account. I don't know but I bet a trial lawyer would be hesitant to take the case unless they thought there was some way they could show that the ski area responsibility was greater than your scenario suggests.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Where did you get the idea that I was arguing against the jury system as a whole? I'm not "falling back" on anything here, but perhaps if you didn't catch the sarcasm in the original post, you may not have caught that either. My point, per the OJ trial, is that they make mistakes, and that it's reasonable to argue that a particular jury did so in arriving at a particular judgment.

 

In this case, I personally think that a jury composed of people who neither ski (11 of 12), nor ski park (the 12th) were not terribly well positioned to determine what constitutes the sole responsibility of the user, and what constitutes the resort's responsibility in a case like this. I think the same is true for those who never ski park.

 

I would be interested in hearing how the notion that the resort is responsible for insuring that all jumps, at all times, under all conditions, are gaper-proof is not going to impact parks.

 

If resorts were intentionally putting unmarked, unavoidable jumps in the middle of runs, then this case would have some merit. The fact that the decisions concerning if, when, and at what speed to hit a particular jump that can only be hit if a particular skier makes a conscious choice to do so means that this case has none.

 

I'm not surprised that you are having a hard time comprehending this, given what I know about your preferred modes of skiing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is getting silly, Jay.

 

Where did I get the idea you said what you said? Your rhetoric is vague, perhaps, but the arguments against juries are prevalent and you not only echo those broader arguments here, but you expand them. Hell, just now you are suggesting that a jury should not be composed of regular people but should include skiers and others with "expertise" in such matters. Maybe you think the jury system would be OK with certain tweaks or something, but you clearly misunderstand the entire theory of juries and jury trials.

 

So we are arguing with what the other guy is not arguing. Wow. What a new pheonomenon for cc.com. By the way, who or just exactly what ever suggested this statement:

 

the resort is responsible for insuring that all jumps, at all times, under all conditions, are gaper-proof...

 

Like you said. Reading comprehension would help here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I would be interested in hearing how the notion that the resort is responsible for insuring that all jumps, at all times, under all conditions, are gaper-proof is not going to impact parks.

 

I'd love to figure out how you transmogrified the lawsuit outcome into this thesis - it makes liberal conspiracy theories look rational.

 

Every jump has some envelope of entry speed + skier weight that can land within a given comfort level. The smaller that envelope the worse the jump. The envelope can indeed be designed JayB, and it's no stretch to think there should be some reasonable standard for the resorts to design their jumps too, the same as they are required to maintain their lifts to a reasonable standard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is getting silly, Jay.

 

Where did I get the idea you said what you said? Your rhetoric is vague, perhaps, but the arguments against juries are prevalent and you not only echo those broader arguments here, but you expand them. Hell, just now you are suggesting that a jury should not be composed of regular people but should include skiers and others with "expertise" in such matters. Maybe you think the jury system would be OK with certain tweaks or something, but you clearly misunderstand the entire theory of juries and jury trials.

 

So we are arguing with what the other guy is not arguing. Wow. What a new pheonomenon for cc.com. By the way, who ever suggested this statement:

 

the resort is responsible for insuring that all jumps, at all times, under all conditions, are gaper-proof...

 

Like you said. Reading comprehension would help here.

 

 

There are cases where some specific expertise is necessary to properly evaluate the evidence in a particular case - the DNA evidence in the OJ trial comes to mind here - and that juries composed of people who have the background necessary to understand and evaluate evidence will be different from those who lack these assets. I recognize that this is just a limitation of the jury system that we'll have to live with.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is what expert witnesses are for, Jay: they are to explain to the jurors what standards may apply to ski jump construction or describe how the exhilaration of moving down hill or through the air at high speeds is important to many skiers, or whatever other advanced concepts that you think a non-skier would not inherently understand.

 

You are right, there will always be a limited ability of jurors to comprehend complex science or maybe some advanced economic theory or something, but they generally try pretty hard. Not always - I was on a jury once where all my peers refused to follow the judge's instructions and did not decide the case on the merits, but rather determined that the plaintiff's attorney was a slimeball so his client deserved nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I would be interested in hearing how the notion that the resort is responsible for insuring that all jumps, at all times, under all conditions, are gaper-proof is not going to impact parks.

 

I'd love to figure out how you transmogrified the lawsuit outcome into this thesis - it makes liberal conspiracy theories look rational.

 

Every jump has some envelope of entry speed + skier weight that can land within a given comfort level. The smaller that envelope the worse the jump. The envelope can indeed be designed JayB, and it's no stretch to think there should be some reasonable standard for the resorts to design their jumps too, the same as they are required to maintain their lifts to a reasonable standard.

 

I'd actually say it's velocity alone that matters, not the skiers weight, but whatever.

 

A lift and a jump are fundamentally different, and arguing that that it's even possible to apply the same principles to them, much less that ski resorts should be expected to do so is one of the more ludicrous propositions that I've ever heard.

 

One guy fucked up and crippled himself. No matter what parameters go into jump design - even infinite landings for 3 foot kickers - there's simply no way to eliminate the possibility that someone will do something completely fucking stupid and cripple or kill themselves on the said jump, much less specify globally valid quantitative parameters for jump design. The same design, on a different aspect, with different visibility, and different snow conditions, and different temperatures, hit by people with different skills will always produce variable risk that cannot be engineered away except by one set of boundary conditions obtained by reducing the height, width, etc of the said jump to zero.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A lift and a jump are fundamentally different, and arguing that that it's even possible to apply the same principles to them, much less that ski resorts should be expected to do so is one of the more ludicrous propositions that I've ever heard.

 

they are both structures constructed by the ski resort. If the resort constructed a terrain park jump with a dead flat landing that no jumper could ever make, then opened it thereby declaring it tacitly safe, they'd bear no liability if someone injured themselves? How exactly are new park skiers supposed to determine what jumps are safe?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That is what expert witnesses are for, Jay: they are to explain to the jurors what standards may apply to ski jump construction or describe how the exhilaration of moving down hill or through the air at high speeds is important to many skiers, or whatever other advanced concepts that you think a non-skier would not inherently understand.

 

You are right, there will always be a limited ability of jurors to comprehend complex science or maybe some advanced economic theory or something, but they generally try pretty hard. Not always - I was on a jury once where all my peers refused to follow the judge's instructions and did not decide the case on the merits, but rather determined that the plaintiff's attorney was a slimeball so his client deserved nothing.

 

Quite a bit of the fault may lie with the defense, but my own prejudices are such that I suspect that the testimony of a pro-freestyle skier will matter quite a bit less to the average juror than the testimony produced by an physicist from Caltech who's never hit a jump before in his life.

 

Thankfully there are states like Colorado that have passed statutes covering terrain parks, and Whistler will always be close after one more season of exile out here, so the damage from judgments like this that I disagree with will likely be contained to states like Washington.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are really that worried JayB there's an entire fucking continent not nearly as assinine as the US. With infinitely better skiing. Of course, you might go there and find the French aren't as bad as you think :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×