You don’t ask for help, you don’t pay, you aren’t a member but you sue when you were not properly trained.

Settlement in the Wood River, ID YMCA lawsuit

I wrote about this lawsuit, and the injury right after it happened. See Climbing accident at Ketchum Idaho indoor Climbing Walland Update on climbing wall accident at Wood River YMCA Climbing Wall. A lot, more facts came out in this latest article that makes the plaintiff’s position look weak if not worse.

In this suit, the plaintiff claimed:

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15:  A climber abseils ...

He contended that the Y was negligent in not training him how to use the climbing equipment and that the rope and self-belay device that he was using suddenly detached from the climbing wall while he was 20 feet up

The YMCA defended saying, “Hopfenbeck had signed a liability release. Furthermore, the Y claimed, he had considerable experience at climbing on indoor walls.”

However, this is the statement that drives me “up a wall.”

In a deposition, Hopfenbeck acknowledged that he had not paid a fee to use the wall, was not a member of the Y in Ketchum and had not asked anyone’s permission to climb. He said he began climbing on his own after taking a ballet class at the Y, but a Y employee did ask him to sign a liability waiver.

When you go use a climbing wall without being a member, without telling anyone, without getting permission to use the wall, how is the Y supposed to train you?

The plaintiff also stated:

Hopfenbeck said another climber there showed him how to use a Grigri belaying device, which can be used to self-belay. He said he practiced with it some, then climbed to the top of the wall and lay back in his harness to rest.

It was the YMCA’s fault he never knew how to use the complicated belay device?

Results – probably not good

This lawsuit was brought in Idaho and settled before the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the release had been decided by the court. However, I can’t believe that an Idaho jury would allow this plaintiff to recover any money.

How can you trespass, use a device and get hurt then argue you were not trained in how to use the device?

The real problem is there is probably a gate at the Y and the people on the climbing wall probably have a wrist band. YMCA’s all over the world having instituted stricter

A Grigri belaying device from rock climbing fa...

polices (however, I doubt they have updated their releases) to make sure no one climbs the wall without signing a release and receiving instruction.

Any settlement is better than a trial, but sometimes you just want to win because the claims are so outlandish.

I hope they deducted the fee for a YMCA membership the year he was hurt from his settlement.

See YMCA settles negligence lawsuit

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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