Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Clover v. Snowbird Ski Resort case brief, 808 P.2d 1037 (1991)

Clover v. Snowbird Ski Resort
808 P.2d 1037 (1991)

Subject: Interpretation of a statute that incorporates primary assumption of risk in the context of a skiing accident.

-Employee of D’s ski resort was negligent in not following policy/ignoring a sign of not jumping on a ski run; a jump that was well known to defendant.
-Upon jumping, employee collided with P, who was severely injured as a result.

Is D immune from suit due to ‘primary assumption of risk’ and a statute even though it could be said that it negligently designed and maintained its ski run?

-D: injury occasioned by one or more of the dangers listed in (section) is barred by statute, b/c, such accident is caused by an inherent risk of skiing.
-P: a ski operator’s negligence is not an inherent risk of skiing. If the resort’s negligence causes a collision between skiers, a suit arising from that collision is not barred by (section).

-A skier cannot recover from a ski area operator for an injury caused by an inherent risk of skiing.
-The statute, however, does not purport to grant ski area operators complete immunity from all negligent claims initiated by skiers.
Primary Assumption of Risk: an alternative expression for the proposition that the defendant was not negligent-there was no duty owed or there was no breach of an existing duty.
Primary Assumption of Risk
Protects defendants from liability in some circumstances where risks either cannot be eliminated or would be too costly to eliminate and where those risks are obvious to the people who encounter them.

Ask:  Is there a “no duty rule?”
-If yes: Is the danger foreseeable?
--If the danger is FORESEEABLE: there is no duty to warn.
If the danger is NOT FORESEEABLE: there is a duty to warn.

-The inherent risks of skiing are those dangers that skiers wish to confront as essential characteristics of the sport of skiing or hazards that cannot be eliminated by the exercise of ordinary care on the part of the ski area operator.
-The only duty...is that they warn patrons of the general dangers patrons must confront when participating in the sport.
-Does not mean that operator is under no duty to use ordinary care to protect patrons.
-If an injury was caused by an unnecessary hazard that could have been eliminated by the use of ordinary care, such a hazard is not an inherent risk of skiing and would fall outside (section).
[Issue of material fact]

Summary Judgment was inappropriate. Operators still have some duties.

AUTHOR'S NOTES:  This case stands for the proposition that when one skis, one does so at their own peril.  Skiing, like other dangerous sports, are of the type that the actor is deemed to be knowing of the inherent dangers.  So, when you are taking your final exam and see an inherently dangerous activity, consider the outcome of this case.

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