On February 25, 2007, 45-year-old Christine Tone was at Song Mountain Ski Center in Tully, New York, with her eight-year-old son, A.J. Tone. She was an intermediate skier and had gone on the triple chair twice that day. On the third occasion, she went up with a friend and her son. Before they reached the unload platform, Ms. Tone realized that her skis were crossed with her son’s, who was sitting next to her. She was unable to unscramble the skis and allowed her son and her friend to leave the lift before her. She then claimed that she was thrown from the lift. She suffered a fractured hip that led to a hip replacement.
The defense proffered a ski patrol member who took an incident report from the plaintiff, in which she was indicated to have stated “I waited too late and when I jumped (from the lift). . . .”
At trial, the plaintiff contested the incident report and indicated that she never made such a report and had not jumped from the lift. She indicated that as an intermediate skier she would not have done such and that she was thrown from the lift. She contended that the accident was due to the negligence of the top lift operator, who failed to stop or slow the lift to allow her to safely unload. The defense contended that the lift was operated properly and that plaintiff’s failure to leave the lift at the assigned spot was the cause.
The defendants called P. Christopher Stoddard, a ski expert from Shoreview, Minnesota, who testified that based on the happening of the accident and the principles of centrifugal force, there was no way that plaintiff would have been thrown from the lift; rather, the forces would have been pushing her back in the lift and she must have jumped from the lift, which is consistent with the incident report.
The jury returned a defense verdict after one and a half hours of deliberation. There was a demand of $350,000.00 and an offer of $25,000.00.