Primary assumption of inherent danger by skiers pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 4169.01 to 4169.99. Skiers and operators both have duties, with the statutory enumeration of operators’ duties being exhaustive. Operation of a tramway does not constitute operation of a common carrier. Pending legislation, 2005 Ohio Senate Bill 61, would expand the ski safety scheme to explicitly include competitors freestyle skiers, ski tubers, and anyone using the facilities of a ski area; likewise, the examples of inherent risks would be greatly expanded, as would limitation of liability for “injury, death, or loss to person or property.” The proposed bill attempts to make each party responsible only for their own direct breaches of enumerated statutory duties.


Horvath v. Ish, 979 N.E.2d 1246,   Supreme Court of Ohio (2013)

On March 6, 2007, Angel Horvath and Eugene Horvath were skiing at Boston Mills ski resort. David Ish was snowboarding at Boston Mills on that same date, with his brother, Tyler, and their cousins. In the early evening, Angel and Eugene were skiing down Buttermilk Hill. David, Tyler, and their cousins were snowboarding on the same hill. David and his relatives proceeded through a terrain park and then reentered Buttermilk Hill, where David and Angel collided. Angel was injured in the accident.

The Supreme Court held that it is evident that R.C. Chapter 4169, when viewed in its entirety, addresses certain obligations and limitations on liability pertaining to ski-area operators, as well as the relationship between ski-area operators and ski-area visitors. Consequently, neither R.C. 4169.08 nor 4169.09 apply to personal-injury litigation between skiers.

Having determined that R.C. Chapter 4169 does not apply to personal-injury litigation between skiers, the court turned to the common law to determine the proper standard of care applicable between skiers. This court had held that “[w]here individuals engage in recreational or sports activities, they assume the ordinary risks of the activity and cannot recover for any injury unless it can be shown that the other participant’s actions were either reckless or intentional as defined in [2 Restatement of the Law 2d, Torts, Section 500, and 1 Restatement of the Law 2d, Torts, Section 8A (1965)].”

The issue before the Court was what duty or standard of care is owed by one skier to another for purposes of determining tort liability. The Court held that skiers assume the ordinary risks of skiing, which include collisions with other skiers, and cannot recover for an injury unless it can be shown that the other skier’s actions were reckless or intentional.  After discussing the evidence, the Court determined that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Ish’s actions were more than merely negligent, thus  precluding the grant of summary judgment.

Pauley v. Circleville, 998 N.E.2d 1083, Supreme Court of Ohio (2013)

Sledder suffered a broken neck when his sled struck object that looked like railroad tie while snow sledding down dirt pile mound at city park. The sledder’s mother brought negligence action against city. The trial court granted summary judgment for city. Plaintiffs appealed. The Court of Appeals, 971 N.E.2d 410, affirmed.  Plaintiffs then appealed to the Supreme Court.The Supreme Court held that the sledder was “recreational user” under recreational-user statute, and that the existence of a single object resembling a railroad tie in park’s dirt mound did not change essential character of park to something other than property that was open for recreational use.  Under the recreational-user statutes (R.C. 1533.18 and 1533.181), property owners who open their premises to recreational users free of charge are immune from liability for injuries suffered by recreational users while they are engaged in a recreational activity.   Affirmed.

Prior to 2006

Risk of injury presented by fence at ski resort was an inherent risk, and was assumed by snowboarder pursuant to skiing safety statute, so that snowboarder could not recover against operator of resort for injuries sustained by snowboarder when he struck fence after encountering ice on slope and falling. Stone v. Alpine Valley Ski Area, 734 N.E.2d 888 (Ohio Ct. App. 1999). Statutory immunity does not apply when willful and wanton misconduct is alleged in the rental of ski equipment, per Otterbacher v. Brandywine Ski Center, Inc., 1990 WL 72327 (Ohio Ct. App.).

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