A snowboarder, Myles Bagley, was 18 when he was injured at Mount Bachelor ski resort in 2006 on a jump. Bagley sought $21.5 million in Deschutes County Circuit Court in 2008 for the accident which has left him paralyzed from the waist down. The trial judge entered summary judgment in favor of Mt. Bachelor, ruling that the waiver signed by Bagley prohibited the lawsuit. The court of appeals affirmed.
And yesterday, the Oregon Supreme Court has heard the case. The question to be decided is whether to invalidate a ski resort’s liability waiver by a snowboarder on one of the resort’s expert jumps. Attorneys for Bagley argued that the resort bears a responsibility for the jump’s design, which they argue was flawed, and say the resort’s waiver is “unconscionable” and contrary to public policy. Attorneys for Mt. Bachelor replied that the snowboarder must take into account the inherently risky behavior of expert jumps.
The Court must now determine whether the risks assumed by skiers and snowboarders include poorly designed dangerous jumps.
Bagley’s case could have broad ramifications in Oregon for release agreements that must be signed in order to take part in an activity. Ski lifts are regulated as amusement devices pursuant to Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 460.310 to 460.370, with operators expressly not common carriers, but nonetheless required to exercise the “highest degree of care for the safety of users.”
The justices’ questions focused on finding precedent in Oregon law for Bagley’s claims. Bagley’s attorney argued that consumer law is the main factor in the case — Bagley was sold a good, she argued, that injured him.