670 A.2d 795 (Vt. 1995)
A skier and his wife, the plaintiffs, appealed a Vermont court's decision. The Vermont court granted summary judgment for the ski resort operators (defendants in this case), which were based on exculpatory agreements that were signed by the plaintiff skier that released the resort from all liability that resulted from negligence.
A skier sustained serious injuries while skiing at the defendant resort's facilities.
The skier collided with a metal pole which formed a part of the control maze for a ski lift line.
The skier had signed a form which released the resort area from liability.
The resort required all of its customers to sign this form.
The skier and his wife filed a complaint against the resort.
They alleged negligent design, construction, and replacement of the maze pole.
The resort responded by filing a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the release of liability barred the negligence action.
The trial court found that the language of the release clearly did absolve the resort of liability for its own negligence.
The trial court did not specifically address the skier's argument that the release was against to public policy.
- The court reversed and remanded the summary judgment.
- The court held that the exculpatory clause was in fact contrary to public policy.
- The court determined that regardless of whether a ski resort provided an essential public service, the resort was a facility that was open to the public, and a business owner owed a duty of active care to its customers to ensure that its premises were in a safe and suitable condition.
The court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for the resort.
The court found that the resort owed its customers a duty of active care to make sure its premises were in a safe and suitable condition.
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