This case arises out of a skier / skier collision which occurred on the Forget Me Not ski run at Winter Park Ski Area on February 25, 2005.
On liability, it is undisputed that Mr. Hall was the uphill skier at the time of the collision. He admitted that he was skiing "pretty fast" and only "mostly" in control. Independent witnesses, including an experienced Winter Park Resort courtesy employee, saw Mr. Hall skiing just before the accident, and gave a statement and deposition testimony that Mr. Hall was skiing very fast, not turning, at a "steep angle," and that he "caught air" just before colliding into Mr. Thompson. Following the collision, Winter Park Resort red-tagged Mr. Hall’s ticket. Mr. Thompson sustained a severe pelvic fracture requiring emergency surgery, and a serious shoulder injury.
Mr. Thompson, and his wife came to Winter Park for a month-long ski vacation in February, 2005. Mr. Thompson is a self-described intermediate skier, with the ability to ski blue and most black runs. The collision with Mr. Hall occurred during the last week of his vacation.
Defendant Joel Hall was 18 years old at the time of the accident. At the time of the accident, he was 6′ 4" tall and weighed 220 lbs. Mr. Hall had driven out to Winter Park the day before with a church youth group. He began skiing at age 8 or 9, and skis with the youth group once or twice per season at ski resorts in Minnesota.
Both Mr. Thompson and Mr. Hall were "skiers" pursuant to the Colorado Ski Safety Act. C.R.S. § 33-44-103(8). Defendant had the primary duty, as the uphill and overtaking skier, to avoid the collision with Plaintiff pursuant to C.R.S. § 33-44-109(2).
The Forget Me Not ski run is located in the Parsenn’s Bowl section of Winter Park Ski Area. The first half of the Forget Me Not ski run is located above timberline and thus is comprised of wide-open, bowl-like terrain. The Forget Me Not ski run continues down past timberline where it becomes a narrow, gladed run, comprised of groups of trees commonly referred to as "tree islands."
Bernard Thompson, was traversing slowly across the Forget Me Not ski run, just below timberline, when he was suddenly hit from uphill and at high speed by Joel Hall as Mr. Hall entered the gladed portion of the run from the open bowl above.
It is undisputed that Mr. Hall was the uphill skier at the time of the collision, and he gave a written statement to the Ski Patrol following the accident where he described himself as skiing "pretty fast" and only "mostly" in control.
Immediately following the accident, in his own handwriting, Defendant admitted to skiing "pretty fast" and "at [a] fairly fast speed." Defendant also stated that he was skiing only "mostly" in control, and that the accident could have been prevented if he had "began [to] slow down sooner."
Independent eyewitness testimony corroborates Mr. Hall’s admissions that he was skiing at high speed and that he was only "mostly" in control at the time of the collision. Suzanne Larson – a Winter Park Guest Services employee for 11 years – watched Mr. Hall’s descent for several minutes while riding up the Timberline ski lift. She testified regarding Mr. Hall’s descent from her vantage point above the ski run:
Mr. Hall was issued a "red tag" by the Winter Park Risk Manager for his involvement in the collision. A "red tag" is issued when a skier is believed to have violated the Colorado Ski Safety Act while skiing at Winter Park.
As a direct result of the collision, Mr. Thompson sustained multiple, complex fractures to his left pelvis, including a fracture of the left superior pubic ramus; a fracture of the left acetabulum; a chip fracture of the posterior acetabulum; and, a comminuted fracture of the left iliac wing. He experienced extensive hemorrhaging of the fracture site, and the fractured bones caused his bladder to become displaced.
He also suffered an extensive partial thickness tear of the right, distal supraspinatus tendon at its insertion into the greater tuberosity of his right humerus, which is more commonly known as a rotator cuff tear.
Following the accident, Mr. Thompson was taken by Ski Patrol to the 7 Mile Clinic at the base of Winter Park. That same day, he was transferred via ambulance to Denver, where he was admitted to St. Anthony Hospital. There, he underwent an open reduction and internal fixation procedure to repair the multiple fractures to his pelvis. A metal plate was installed with screws to stabilize the fracture. He remained in St. Anthony Hospital until March 4, 2005, when his wife drove him back home to Illinois. There, he came under the care Orthopedic Associates of Northern Illinois. Mr. Thompson will have residual arthritic and other related functional losses, permanent disability, impairment and disfigurement.
Mr. Thompson’s economic damages exceeded $100,000.00, including medical bills, out-of-pocket costs and lost wages.
The case was filed in June, 2005 in United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The matter was settled for $170,000.00 February, 2006, shortly after plaintiffs’ counsel filed a Motion to Strike Defendant’s Liability Expert.
Past results are no guarantee of future results.