A ruling has been handed down by the Colorado Supreme Court in regards to a highly controversial case which began back in 2012. Fleury v. IntraWest Winter Park began with a lawsuit filed by the wife of a skier who died in an inbound avalanche while on a marked trail (Trestle Trees at Winter Park), claiming negligence on the resorts part for not closing that section of the mountain that day or posting any avalanche warning signs according to gazette.com.
The original lawsuit was dismissed by a trial court and that decision was upheld by the Colorado Court of Appeals. Salynda Fluery, the widow of the skier, appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court which agreed to review the case.
THE ENTIRE TRIAL CAME DOWN TO THIS QUESTION: Is an avalanche on a designated trail within the boundaries of a ski area an inherent danger or risk of skiing for which ski area operators have immunity from liability under the Colorado Ski Safety Act (which was designed to protect resorts from being sued by skiers that participate in activities that are absolutely dangerous and which ski resorts have no control over)?
GO HERE TO READ THE SKI SAFETY ACT
Avalanches are not specifically covered under the Ski Safety Act and Salynda Fluery argued that if avalanches were considered an inherent danger of skiing they should have been included. The judgement in favor of IntraWest Winter Park came after an interpretation of the an important line in the Act which protected resorts from issues arising from “snow conditions as they exist or may change.” The judges found this language enough to cover avalanches and therefore ruled against Salynda Fluery.
Although the court ruled in favor of the resort, the Colorado Legislature could amend the Ski Safety Act to include language that would require resorts to be vigilant of avalanche conditions and act reasonably to avoid injury or death.