After a five-week trial, in King County, Washington, jury on last Friday awarded $14 million to a 27-year-old skier who was paralyzed after dropping 37 feet from a ski jump at the Summit at Snoqualmie.
Kenny Salvini, of Lake Tapps, was 23 years old when he went off the jump at the Central Terrain Park. During the trial, testimony indicated that the man who built the jump “eyeballed it with a Sno-Cat” rather than engineering a design.
Engineers and an aeronautics professor from the University of California, Davis, testified that the jump was improperly designed and featured a short landing area, Connelly said, adding that ski jumps are supposed to be sloped so that energy from a vertical jump is transferred into a skier’s forward motion on landing.
Other snowboarders were injured on the same jump in the weeks before Salvini’s accident, including a snowboarder who broke his back. A week after Salvini was injured, 19-year-old Peter Melrose of Bellevue died going off a different jump at the same terrain park. Evidence of 15 earlier accidents was admitted into evidence but nothing was done by ski operators to fix or close the dangerous jumps.
The full jury award was for about $31 million, but the amount was decreased to $14 million after calculating “the comparative fault” of Salvini and “the inherent risk of the sport.”
Before he was injured, Salvini, now a quadriplegic, was captain of the wrestling team at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, where he graduated in engineering technology. His mother is now his full-time caregiver. According to testimony, over the course of his life, Salvini’s medical needs are estimated to cost between $23 million and $26 million.