Johnny Kotun, age 28, was an expert recreational skier. He was skiing at Snowbird Ski Resort, at the end of the ski day on March 25, 2007. Kotun was traversing along a lower cat walk, headed toward one of the lower parking lots, when the defendant, a 16-year-old off-duty junior ski instructor, took a jump off of a terrain change, and performed a 360. He landed, carved two wide arc turns and collided at high speed into Kotun. Kotun was seen waving his arms and shouting at the defendant trying to avoid him in the moments before the collision. At impact, Kotun was ejected from his skis and thrown 30 feet into a nearby tree. The defendant also went airborne into the same tree.
About 25′ from the point of impact was a large, orange SLOW banner. The testimony from the defendant, the witnesses (including chairlift passengers who witnessed the accident) combined with the slope angles, point of impact and departure trajectories of the parties, formed a basis for plaintiff’s expert to establish the defendant’s minimum speed at the moment of impact of approximately 42 mph. The defendant sustained a non-displaced pelvic fracture, a concussion (no helmet) and bruising to his kidneys and spleen. He recovered without any impairment. Kotun sustained mandibular and maxillary fractures. Although he was wearing a helmet, Kotun also sustained an intra cerebral and frontal lobe hemorrhage, and a severe shear injury. He recovered from the facial fractures but is now hemiplegic on his left side, and has significant cognitive and speech impairments.
An office equipment sales person earning $28,000.00 per year, Kotun also volunteered as the varsity football receiver’s coach at a large Salt Lake City high school. Kotun had been a high school football star, and a Division III college football player.
Paid medicals in the case were $131,000.00. The facts did not meet the detailed requirements of respondent superior under the Utah case of Clover v Snowbird, 808 P. 2d 1037 (1991) and therefore Snowbird was not a defendant in the case. The defendant had clocked out from work an hour prior to the accident, and he had taken several lifts for personal/recreational skiing before the accident. He was not in uniform at the time of the accident. Prior to the accident, he had taken off the skis on which he would work, and was using a borrowed pair of "trick skis."
The defendant, a high school junior living with his family in Salt Lake, had a total of $1.5 million in homeowner’s coverage. Utah’s ski safety statute does not impose per se liability on the uphill skier in a skier collision case. Ricci v Schoultz, 963 P.2d 784 (Utah 1998). See also Utah Code Ann.§ 78-27- 52(1)(f).
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