Vail Not Liable for Death

A six-year legal battle by a family who lost their son ended yesterday with a jury verdict in favor of Vail Resorts. Thirteen-year-old Taft Colin was killed at Vail Mountain on Jan. 22, 2012 by an in-bounds avalanche. His parents filed a lawsuit against Vail. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that under Colorado’s Skier Safety Act, in-bounds avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing. The claim against Vail in Colin’s case was then restated as a claim for negligence rather than wrongful death. The family argued that Vail Resorts was negligent when it did not adequately warn skiers…

City of Steamboat Springs Settles Wrongful Death Case

The City of Steamboat Springs, owner of Howelsen Hill ski area, has settled the wrongful death case brought by Maureen Ryan, the mother of Cooper Larsh. Larsh died on Marsh 17, 2011 from snow immersion suffocation in the Alpine slide area of Howelsen Hill after entering an area that the City had failed to mark as out of bounds. The City had argued that the area was closed to skiers and was indicated as such. Ryan and her attorneys, Jim Chalat and Evan Banker of Chalat Hatten Koupal & Banker, argued that the area at the top of the Alpine…

Appeals Court Ruling Gets National Attention

When the Colorado Court of Appeals held that avalanches within the boundaries of open runs at Colorado ski resorts are an inherent danger, ski enthusiasts across the country took note. Under the holding, ski area operators do not have to warn skiers or close runs, even when the avalanche risk is high. The 2-1 decision, which immunizes resorts from claims after avalanche-related deaths or injuries, is the first of its kind in the country. Boston public radio station WBUR interviewed Jim Chalat about the impact of the case. Aspen Public Radio also spoke with Jim about the ruling, listen to…

Aspen SkiCo Weiner Roast Causes Lift Accident

This case involved a lift loading accident at the base of the Deep Temerity bowl in Aspen Highlands. Ryan Bradley, a Basalt Middle School teacher, outdoorsman and expert skier, was in line to board the Deep Temerity lift on a snowy Presidents’ Day weekend. The lift attendants were grilling hot dogs and passing them out to the crowd. Approximately 15 minutes earlier, the Deep Temerity lift was stopped and a chair was rigged with a support structure to evacuate an injured skier in a toboggan. The lift attendants had forgotten that the chair with the metal rig attached would be…

Uniformed Ski Instructor Collides with Youth

9-year-old Kane Johnson was skiing on an “easiest” trail at Breckenridge Ski Resort when defendant, an uphill skier and ski instructor at the resort, who was skiing unreasonably fast, collided with the boy. As a result of the defendant’s negligence, Kane suffered damages, including a right, mid-shift femur fracture requiring an open reduction with plating and screws. Mr. Chalat of Chalat Hatten Koupal & Banker, represented the Johnson family in a suit to recover the expense of medical costs associated with the accident from the defendant and his insurance company. The case was settled for a confidential amount. Past results…

Pre-injury waiver contrary to the public policy of the Utah Inherent Risks of Skiing Act

William Rothstein, an expert skier, suffered broken ribs, an injured kidney, a bruised heart, a damaged liver, and a collapsed lung as a result of a collision with a retaining wall at Snowbird Resort. The wall, made of stacked railroad ties, was camouflaged by a light layer of snow. Photographs showed, and a resort official admitted, the wall was unmarked and no measures had been taken to alert skiers to its presence. Mr. Rothstein, a season pass holder, had signed two waivers in conjunction with the purchase of his pass. In both, Mr. Rothstein waived any personal injury claims against…

Unmarked Man-made Object on Slope Causes Accident

On December 7, 2005 Lauren Angermann was skiing on the Moonlight ski run at Steamboat Ski Resort. The Moonlight ski run is a blue, or "more difficult" ski run. Ms. Angermann was skiing slowly, and in control within the ski area boundaries. While skiing Moonlight ski run, Ms. Angermann's skis slid underneath an unmarked man-made hose or pipe; she double ejected from her bindings, and fell forward onto her left shoulder. She was wearing a helmet. The man-made hose or pipe was covered with snow, it was neither marked, nor roped off in any fashion, there were no warnings of…

$8.3 Million for Night Skier Run Down by Groomer

On January 20, 2003, at 7:00 p.m., plaintiff Jessica Grigg, age 17, was skiing down Eagle's Swoop, an open intermediate slope at Wintergreen ski resort in Nelson County, Virginia. The ski area operator also operated two tubing parks at the resort, one of which was situated adjacent to Eagle's Swoop. Both tubing parks required regular grooming when guests were tubing, and the ski area operator employed a specialized snow groomer for their maintenance. The groomer was a model 270 Pisten Bully, a large diesel powered track vehicle, equipped with a specialized nine foot blade in front and a grooming tiller…

$6.1 Million for Fireman After Plunge Over Open Edge of Ski Run

Client suffered disabling brain damage in a skiing accident on a ski trail maintained at a ski area near Harrisonburg, Virginia by Massanutten Ski Resort. His brain injuries were totally disabling, requiring full time institutionalization. He suffers permanent and profound physical, mental and psychological deficits. He is confined to a wheelchair and suffers uncontrollable bouts of frustration and anger. His intellectual capacity is severely limited. He communicates with simple notes, and he can manage no more than a game of BINGO. Massanutten Mountain forms a ridge east of the Shenandoah Mountains. Massanutten Ski Resort has a peak elevation of about…

Jury Verdict Against Aspen SkiCo

A federal jury ruled that the Aspen Skiing Co. was negligent when a female snowboarder from Vermont collided with a snowmobile at Snowmass in March 1997. As a result, the SkiCo was ordered to pay the snowboarder $100,000. The 12-member jury's verdict, with interest, awards a judgment of about $123,000. The case was tried before U.S. District Judge Daniel B. Sparr. Lee, who attended college in Arizona at the time of the trial, filed suit against SkiCo after recovery from the collision left her permanently impaired ankle. She claimed that while she was on vacation at Snowmass with her family…