Natalie Sexton v. Chase Kavcak, Colorado State District Court for Summit County, Breckenridge, CO
Cause/Case #: 2009CV212
Trial Date: August 2, 2010 Length: 3 Days; Verdict, August 4, 2010
Trial Judge: Judge Karen A. Romeo
Plaintiffs Atty, Firm, City: Jim Chalat and Russell Hatten, Chalat Hatten and Koupal PC, Denver,CO
Defendants Atty, Firm, City: Greg Giometti, Gregory Giometti & Associates, Denver, CO
Insurance Company: Allstate and Ameriprise
Plaintiff Doctors, Specialty, City: Dr. Duncan, Medical Center of the Rockies, Fort Collins, CO, Orthopedist
Plaintiff Experts, Specialty, City:
Stanley Gale, Rocky Mountain Ski Consulting, Skiing Safety, Ski Patrol Issues, Golden CO;
Defense Experts, Specialty, City:
Dr. Jaspar Shealy – Human Factors, Industrial Engineering, Ski Safety, Ski injuries;
Elia Hamilton – Mt. Snow, Vermont – Ski resort management; Jump Design
John Rice – Sierra at Tahoe – Ski resort management; jump design; Risk Management;
Shawn Smith – Stevens Pass – Ski Technique, Jumping technique.
A reckless snowboarder collided into a skier on March 20, 2009 on the Moz, which is an intermediate trail, at Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Colorado. Defendant Kavcak, riding a snowboard, crashed into Mrs. Sexton from uphill and above. Kavcak, on deposition, testified that she was the uphill rider and was traveling “fast” while, according to her testimony, Mrs. Sexton was stopped. Mrs. Sexton was skiing down the Moz trail with her 9-year-old son, Jack, and her father. Immediately before she was struck and injured by the defendant, Mrs. Sexton was on a traverse from skier’s left to skier’s right, she slowed to look uphill to her right for her father. She then continued her skiing and turned left. As she did, she saw the defendant approaching her at high speed from uphill and to Mrs. Sexton’s left. The defendant impacted Mrs. Sexton, at full speed. The impact fractured Mrs. Sexton’s left leg. Ms. Kavcak fell, but was uninjured.
Only after her mother had apparently become involved in the matter did Chase Kavcak then first make up the story that was the basis of the defense, that the accident occurred toward the top of the run, and that the fault of the accident was entirely that of Ms. Sexton for “stopping,” in a blind area where Kavcak could not see her. The jury did not buy this version of the accident, in large part because of statements made by the Defendant. Defendant wrote in her collision statement “I was going down pretty fast and a skier had stopped in the middle of the trail. . . . and [I] collided on the left side of her skis”. When asked how she could have prevented the incident, defendant wrote “probably from me going slower and paying more attention”.
The tibia/fibula fracture to Ms. Sexton’s left leg required immediate surgery, internal fixation, extensive physical therapy and a later hardware-removal procedure. She continues to suffer daily pain and discomfort.
The case was tried before a jury in the Summit County District Courthouse in Breckenridge during the first week of August, 2010. Though almost every member of the jury had some connection to the ski industry, they found that the defendant did owe Ms. Sexton compensation for the injuries she suffered. With costs and interest added, the judgment totaled just over $100,000.
Past results are no guarantee of future results.