Two parents filed a lawsuit against a ski company in Colorado after their son lost his life during an avalanche that occurred on a run owned by the company. Vail Resorts responded to the wrongful death suit, asking a judge to dismiss the case because the company is immune to such a lawsuit due to the protections of Colorado's Ski Safety Act.
The parents alleged that the company was negligent and, due to that negligence, their son was killed. The response from the company indicated that it could not be held accountable because an avalanche is an inherent risk associated with skiing, a statement that if agreed with by a judge will allow the company to stand by its assertion that it did not violate the Ski Safety Act.
An attorney for the parents said that the response is a standard take on the situation.
According to a report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the parents' son and five of his friends entered Prima Cornice on Jan. 22 around 1 p.m. through a gate that was left open on the lower part of the run. The group followed the tracks of several others who had used the gate during the day and began heading down the slope.
At the top of Prima Cornice run, there was a rope blocking the gate. Three of the six skiers that were on the run when the avalanche occurred sidestepped approximately 120 feet up the hill. While Vail Resorts asserted that the run was closed, it has not said where the skiers crossed from an open to a closed area. The parents assert that the gate used by their son and his friends should have been closed as well, especially if Vail Resorts considered the run to be dangerous.
Two of the six skiers made it to safety and sought help after the avalanche occurred. The son was carried into a spruce forest where he collided with a tree upside down. A coroner's report indicated that he died from blunt force trauma.
Source: Vail Daily, "Vail Resorts wants avalanche lawsuit dismissed," Randy Wyrick, Sept. 21, 2012