(CN) – A skier who broke bones and punctured his lung on a trail with a “bomb drop” can pursue negligence claims because the trail was too dangerous, an Oregon appeals court ruled.
Philip Emerson sued Mt. Bachelor Inc. for gross negligence after puncturing a lung and breaking his clavicle, thumb, femur, pelvis and several ribs on Mt. Bachelor’s trails in 2010.
A Deschutes County, Ore. court dismissed the case, agreeing with Mt. Bachelor that the company was not negligent and that Emerson waived liability when he bought his season pass.
Emerson appealed, claiming the company had negligently designed the ski slope and that the release was unenforceable.
The Oregon Court of Appeals agreed with Emerson in a decision written by Judge Rex Armstrong.
According to court records, Mt. Bachelor claimed that “there was no significant history of accidents or of severe injury on the bomb-drop feature,” but Armstrong noted that three other skiers had been hurt in the six weeks before Emerson’s accident.
Mt. Bachelor’s risk manager argued that three injuries in six weeks was not “an unusual or inordinate number of accidents for a terrain park feature,” court records show. Armstrong, however, disagreed.
“We conclude that reasonable jurors could find that the bomb-drop feature was not reasonably safe for patrons and that defendant was on notice that, unless it altered the feature, someone could be injured in the manner in which plaintiff was injured,” the judge wrote on the court’s behalf.
Armstrong also said that Emerson did not release Mt. Bachelor from liability because the Oregon Supreme Court had found an identical release unfair in Bagley v. Mt. Bachelor Inc. in 2014. In that case, Myles Bagley was paralyzed in a snowboarding accident.
“Plaintiff had no meaningful alternative to defendant’s take-it-or-leave-it terms if he wanted to participate in downhill snowboarding,” the state’s high court decided in the Bagley case.
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