A woman paralyzed by snow and ice falling off a roof at the Mt. Baker Ski Area, in Washington, was awarded almost $355,000 in damages last week. But it was far less than the $7.6 million Patricia Miller had sought for her injuries, because the jury put the majority of blame on her, not the ski area.
On Jan. 22, 2008, a 66-year-old Miller was reading in a chair outside the White Salmon Lodge when ice and snow slid off the lodge roof and collapsed on her, causing spinal cord damage and other injuries. She was sitting inside a barrier that was put up to keep people out of slide danger.
Miller’s attorneys argued the area wasn’t significantly blocked off and the signs warning people weren’t clear. Attorneys for the ski area argued that she disregarded the signs and barriers, which they say clearly warned of the danger.
The jury found that Mt. Baker Ski Area failed to exercise ordinary care, and that failure was a cause of the injury. They also found that Miller was negligent and that her negligence was a cause of the injury. They set Miller’s damages at nearly $2.4 million. Because the jury assigned 85 percent of negligence to Miller and 15 percent to the ski area, Miller received 15 percent of those damages: nearly $355,000. Ski area officials also claimed vindication in the verdict.
Since Miller’s injury occurred, the ski area has put up additional safety signs but hasn’t changed the barriers it uses to keep people out of dangerous areas.