The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has ruled in favor of Aspen Skiing Co., LLC and against Chris Robinette, a snowboarder who sued SkiCo after colliding with a snowmobile driven by an employee at the Snowmass Ski Area in 2006.
Judge Deanell Tacha wrote for the appeals court that a lower court’s summary judgment in favor of SkiCo should stand. The three-judge panel found that Robinette could not sue for damages for his injuries because he signed a waiver when he bought his season ski pass. The opinion was issued by the Court of Appeals on Jan. 25.
“The district court granted Aspen’s (SkiCo’s) motion for summary judgment because Mr. Robinette had entered into an exculpatory agreement with Aspen and had assumed ‘all risks of skiing/riding,'” Judge Tacha wrote in a short opinion issued quickly, just 11 days after oral arguments.
Robinette, a California resident, was snowboarding on Feb. 24, 2006 near the top of the Alpine Springs lift at Snowmass. He was preparing to catch air off a roll when he collided with a snowmobile being driven up the slope by Eric Hill, a Snowmass lift maintenance employee.
The snowmobile ended up on top of Robinette, who suffered a spiral fracture in his lower right leg and a fractured kneecap. Robinette, who was 22 at the time of the accident and living in Basalt for the season, has returned to California.
Plaintiff argued that Hill was driving the snowmobile in the middle of the run and was going up and over a blind spot, which was careless and therefore a violation of a state law requiring safe operation of snowmobiles. Furthermore, that SkiCo’s waiver should not protect the company from an employee who was violating state law. Robinette did not sue Hill, the snowmobile driver, just SkiCo.
SkiCo argued that Robinette failed to adhere to several points in the act, including riding in a manner that allowed him to avoid objects below him.