A man paralyzed in a snow-tubing accident is suing the Virginia parent companies of Massanutten Resort for more than $25 million. If granted, that would be the largest award ever against a ski resort.
John Carwile of Hampton was at the Rockingham County resort in January 2009 when he made the fateful tube run. He zipped headfirst down the course, across the “run-out” area, layered with rubber mats intended to slow the tubes, and into a wall at the back of the area. His head hit the wall, and his spinal cord gave resulting in paralysis from the chest down.
The National Ski Areas Association in Colorado reports that 39 skiers and snowboards suffered fatal injuries during the 2008-09 season, the most recent season for which data is available. According to the group, 10 million people skied or snowboarded in 2008.
Carwile’s suit, filed last month in Charlottesville Circuit Court, argues that the resort was negligent in setting up and operating the snow tube runs. In the suit, Carwile accuses the resort of “failure to design the barrier wall with sufficient safety protection.” The existing barrier had some padding but lacked but the suit argues it was not reasonably sufficient.
Carwile’s lawsuit asks for $25 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages, the maximum allowed under Virginia law. This is not the first lawsuit Massanutten has faced, see Hoar v. Great Eastern Resort for a case report which resulted in a $6.2 Million verdict.