A lawsuit against Sugarloaf Mountain by a former Delaware state senator who was injured along with members of his family in a chairlift accident in late 2010 is moving forward.
Five chairs derailed and their occupants fell 25 to 30 feet to the ground on Dec. 28, 2010. High wind early in the day kept the chairlift closed, but it was deemed safe and opened at mid-day. Michael Katz suffered a broken back and traumatic brain injury in the accident. He was the most seriously injured of eight people who were hurt. His daughters, 13 and 11 at the time, suffered back and head injuries.
This week, a ruling by Justice Nancy Mills in Franklin County Superior Court threw out a claim that would have made Michael Katz liable to Sugarloaf for any money awarded to his two daughters for their injuries because he signed a liability waiver on behalf of the girls, as part of the family’s purchase of a season pass.
The judge also dismissed two counts of the lawsuit that would have allowed the injured family to claim that the ski resort was liable for the injuries without proving that it was negligent in operating the ski lift. Justice Nancy Mills last month dismissed a counterclaim by the ski area and ruled that the ski lift is a common carrier.
The lawsuit, filed in October, alleges that Sugarloaf was negligent when it operated the lift despite knowledge of its safety hazards, and that it failed to inspect and maintain the chairlift and train employees to operate it safely. Other skiers injured by the lift failure reached out-of-court settlements with Sugarloaf for undisclosed amounts.
The attorney for Sugarloaf has said the two sides are in the early phases of preparing for a trial and have informally exchanged information about the case.