The family of a Canadian boy whose leg was crushed by a snow groomer in 2008 has until Monday to show why their federal lawsuit should not be dismissed. In an order dated July 1, a U.S. District Court judge in Detroit says the family of Austin Miles of Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, needs to show in writing why their case against Mt. Brighton Ski Area in Michigan and one of its employees should be heard in federal court, according to court documents.
The suit, filed Jan. 19, alleges that the Genoa Township ski area and its employee Robert James Sturgis, who was operating the groomer at the time, violated the Michigan Ski Area Safety Act by acting negligently and recklessly causing injury to Miles.
Miles, then 12, was on a school field trip and had just skied down a beginner slope when the snow groomer ran over him at about 1:50 p.m. Jan. 30, 2008, police said. He was dragged about 200 feet, and according to the complaint, his left leg was wrapped about 270 degrees around the rotating, cylindrical tiller “in the opposite direction of the natural range of motion of the leg,” causing it to shatter in several places. It took emergency workers more than 90 minutes to free Miles from the grooming vehicle. They were assisted by Corrigan Oil Co. employees, who had steel-cutting equipment.
Sturgis was unaware of Miles’ presence and continued to operate the vehicle for more than 200 feet until “he stopped to determine why the tiller had stopped rotating (and) despite the fact bystanders were approaching the groomer yelling ‘stop,’ ” according to the suit.
The suit also alleges the grooming vehicle had a cracked mirror and clarity of the windows “was impaired” as well as having “several blind spots” that resulted in a poor field of vision for the operator. It also alleges that Mt. Brighton failed to post required notices warning skiers of snow-grooming operations.