A US Appeals Court has recently upheld the decision of a lower court ruling which dismissed a lawsuit against Copper Mountain. The original suit was filed by Dr. Rajeev Kumar, who was injured at the resort when he unknowingly skied off what is called the “celebrity cornice.”
The cornice was situated near where Timber Ridge and Retreat and Gold Digger intersect. Dr. Kumar argued that the resort was negligent due to not marking the cornice, which he claims is “extreme terrain.”
The lower court did not agree with this Lawsuit, citing Colorado’s Ski Safety Act and declaring it’s negative verdict through a summary jugjement. Lawyer David B. Cronheim commented that, “This decision is clearly a big victory for Colorado ski resorts. Like many states, Colorado has enacted statutes to shield ski resorts from liability for injuries resulting from the ‘inherent risks and dangers of skiing.’ However, Colorado’s Ski Safety Act (SSA) still requires resorts to mark ‘freestyle’ and ‘extreme’ terrain.” In addition he pointed out that, “from a legal perspective, it was not so much that the resort won, but how it won that is most noteworthy. Generally, summary judgment is granted before trial if the judge determines there’s no issue of material fact for a jury to decide. If you can win on summary judgment, you avoid a jury trial. This is important for three reasons. First, juries are notoriously sympathetic to victims, particularly if the injured person is a child, and awards can be quite high. Second, trials are tremendously expensive in terms of legal fees. Lastly, the outcome is unpredictable.”
This last Wednesday the Tenth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals upheld the lower courts decision. Interestingly, Kumar’s lawyer reportedly abandoned their stance that “Celebrity Cornice” was extreme terrain as the drop is supposedly no more than a foot in height.
This decision may have greater implications for ski resorts in the US, as it may have set a precedent that can influence future decisions
Image from CopperColorado.com