Downes et al. v. Oglethorpe University, Inc., 342 Ga.App. 250 (Ga.App. 2017)

Downes et al. v. Oglethorpe University, Inc., 342 Ga.App. 250 (Ga.App. 2017)

342 Ga.App. 250 (Ga.App. 2017)

802 S.E.2d 437

Downes et al. v. Oglethorpe University, Inc

A17A0246

Court of Appeals of Georgia

June 30, 2017

Assumption of the risk. DeKalb State Court. Before Judge Polk, pro hac vice.

Katherine L. McArthur, Caleb F. Walker, for appellants.

Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers, David M. Atkinson, for appellee.

OPINION

[802 S.E.2d 438]

Ellington, Presiding Judge.

Erik Downes, then a 20-year-old college student, drowned in the Pacific Ocean on January 4, 2011, while he was in Costa Rica attending a study-abroad program organized by Oglethorpe University, Inc. Elvis Downes and Myrna Lintner (the ” Appellants” ), as Downes’s parents and next of kin, and in their capacity as administrators of Downes’s estate, brought this wrongful death action alleging that Oglethorpe’s negligence and gross negligence were the proximate cause of Downes’s drowning. The trial court granted Oglethorpe’s motion for summary judgment, and the Appellants appeal. We affirm because, as a matter of law, Downes assumed [802 S.E.2d 439] the risk of drowning when he chose to swim in the Pacific Ocean.

Under OCGA § 9-11-56 (c), [s]ummary judgment is warranted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. We review the grant or denial of a motion for summary judgment de novo, and we view the evidence, and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, in a light most favorable to the nonmovant. (Citations and punctuation omitted.) Assaf v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 327 Ga.App. 475, 475-476 (759 S.E.2d 557) (2014). See also Johnson v. Omondi, 294 Ga. 74, 75-76 (751 S.E.2d 288) (2013) (accord).

So viewed, the evidence shows the following. During the 2010-2011 academic year, Oglethorpe offered to their students a 12-day study-abroad trip to Costa Rica. The students were charged a fee for the trip to pay for expenses such as airfare, lodging, and food. The students were also required to pay the ” per credit tuition rate” and were to receive four credits toward their degree for academic work associated with the trip. Oglethorpe retained Horizontes, a Costa Rican tour operator, to coordinate the trip and to provide transportation and an English-speaking guide.

Dr. Jeffrey Collins was then the director of Oglethorpe’s study-abroad program. According to Collins, Oglethorpe tried to follow ” best practices,” which is ” defined as those protocols, procedures that as best and as far as possible ensure[ ] the safety of students.” He acknowledged that students would swim on the trips. Collins was not aware of any potential dangers in Costa Rica and did no investigation to ascertain if there were potential dangers in Costa Rica.

During pre-trip meetings with Downes and the five other students who had registered for the program, Dr. Roark Donnelly and Dr. Cassandra Copeland, the two professors who accompanied the students on the trip, asked the students if everyone was a good swimmer, and the students agreed that they were. The group also discussed swimming in the ocean, including ” that there are going to be currents.” One of the professors told the students that, during a previous study-abroad trip to another location, a student had recognized that he was a weak swimmer and was required to wear a life jacket during all water activities. After hearing this, the students continued to express that they were good swimmers. Before leaving on the trip, the students were required to sign a release agreement which included an exculpatory clause pertaining to Oglethorpe.

The students and professors flew to Costa Rica on December 28, 2010. During the course of the trip, on the afternoon of January 4, 2011, the group arrived at a hotel on the Pacific coast. The six students, two professors, the guide, and the driver got into their bus and drove to a nearby beach, Playa Ventanas, which had been recommended by the hotel. Upon their arrival, there were other people on the beach and in the water. There were no warning signs posted on the beach, nor any lifeguards or safety equipment present.

The students swam in the ocean, staying mostly together, and eventually ventured out into deeper water. After about 20 minutes, Dr. Donnelly yelled for the students to move closer to shore. Shortly thereafter, student Robert Cairns, a former lifeguard, heard a female student screaming. Cairns swam toward the screams, and the student informed him that Downes needed help. Cairns realized that ” some kind of current … had pulled us out.” Cairns swam to within ten feet of Downes and told him to get on his back and try to float. Downes could not get on his back, and Cairns kept telling him he had to try. After some time, Downes was struck by a wave, went under the water, and disappeared from Cairns’s view. Downes’s body was recovered from the ocean three days later.

The Appellants filed this wrongful death action claiming that Downes’s death was the proximate result of Oglethorpe’s negligence and gross negligence. Evidence adduced during discovery included the testimony of Dr. John Fletemeyer, the Appellants’ expert in [802 S.E.2d 440] coastal sciences, that Downes had been caught in a ” rip current” [1] when he became distressed and ultimately drowned. Dr. Fletemeyer opined that some beaches on the western coast of Costa Rica are particularly dangerous ” mainly [because of] the lack of lifeguards,” but also because of physical conditions such as ” high wave energy force” and ” pocket beaches,” and that Playa Ventanas was a pocket beach.[2] He also testified that, in the context of the ocean, ” every beach you go to is extremely dangerous.” Other testimony showed that a continuing problem with drownings on beaches along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica was well publicized in Costa Rica, and that the United States Consular Authority in Costa Rica had ” published statistics about the danger of swimming on Costa Rica’s beaches and identified specifically the west coast beaches as being the most dangerous.” [3]

Following discovery, Oglethorpe moved for summary judgment and argued that (i) Oglethorpe owed no legal duty to Downes; (ii) the Appellants’ negligence claims are barred by Downes’s written waiver of liability and there is a lack of evidence that Oglethorpe was grossly negligent; and (iii) Downes assumed the risk of swimming in the ocean. The trial court granted Oglethorpe’s motion for summary judgment.

1. The Appellants contend that Oglethorpe was not entitled to summary judgment on the ground that Downes, as a matter of law, assumed the risk of drowning when he swam in the ocean.[4]

The affirmative defense of assumption of the risk bars a plaintiff from recovering on a negligence claim if it is established that he[,] without coercion of circumstances, chooses a course of action with full knowledge of its danger and while exercising a free choice as to whether to engage in the act or not. (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Vaughn v. Pleasent, 266 Ga. 862, 864 (1) (471 S.E.2d 866) (1996).

A defendant asserting an assumption of the risk defense must establish that the plaintiff (i) had knowledge of the danger; (ii) understood and appreciated the risks associated with such danger; and (iii) voluntarily exposed himself to those risks. The knowledge requirement does not refer to a comprehension of general, non-specific risks. Rather, the knowledge that a plaintiff who assumes the risk must subjectively possess is that of the specific, particular risk of harm associated with the activity or condition that proximately causes injury.

(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Gilreath v. Smith, 340 Ga.App. 265, 268 (1) (797 S.E.2d 177) (2017). ” As a general rule, whether a party assumed the risk of his injury is an issue for the jury that should not be decided by summary judgment unless the defense is conclusively established by plain, palpable and undisputed evidence.” (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Findley v. Griffin, 292 Ga.App. 807, 809 (2) (666 S.E.2d 79) (2008).

[342 Ga.App. 254] It is well established under Georgia law that ” [t]he danger of drowning in water is a palpable and manifest peril, the knowledge of which is chargeable to [persons] in the absence of a showing of want of ordinary capacity.” Bourn v. Herring, 225 Ga. 67, 69 (2) (166 S.E.2d 89) (1969). See, e.g., White v.

[802 S.E.2d 441]Ga. Power Co., 265 Ga.App. 664, 666 (1) (595 S.E.2d 353) (2004) (the ” [p]erils of deep water are instinctively known” ). The record does not show that Downes was aware of the presence of rip currents in the waters off the beach; however, ” [i]t is the body of water per se that presents an obvious risk of drowning, not its attendant conditions such as a strong unseen current or a deep unknown hole.” Id. at 667 (1). As Downes was a competent adult, he was necessarily aware of the risk of drowning when he voluntarily entered the Pacific Ocean.

The Appellants contend that Oglethorpe had a duty to exercise ordinary care in the planning and implementing of its study-abroad program to avoid exposing the students to a risk of drowning. Because Oglethorpe owed this duty, they contend, the fact that Downes entered the water voluntarily does not establish as a matter of law that he assumed the risk of drowning. Rather, they contend, Oglethorpe created the dangerous situation by taking Downes to the beach without investigating its dangers, adopting an emergency preparedness plan, ensuring the professors in charge had adequate training and procedures for supervising swimming students, and supplying safety equipment.

Assuming that Oglethorpe, having undertaken a study-abroad program, was under a duty to act with reasonable care, and that there is evidence of record that Oglethorpe failed to do so, assumption of risk is nevertheless a defense to negligence. ” Even if a defendant is negligent, a determination that a plaintiff assumed the risk or failed to exercise ordinary care for [his] own safety bars recovery for the resulting injury suffered by the plaintiff, unless the injury was wilfully and wantonly inflicted.” (Citation omitted.) City of Winder v. Girone, 265 Ga. 723, 724 (2) (462 S.E.2d 704) (1995). In Rice v. Oaks Investors II, 292 Ga.App. 692, 693-694 (1) (666 S.E.2d 63) (2008), the defendant was entitled to a directed verdict where, notwithstanding evidence that the defendants were negligent per se in failing to properly enclose the pool in which the ten-year-old decedent drowned, the child’s own negligence was the sole proximate cause of her death because the risk of swimming in the pool was obvious as a matter of law. Similarly, notwithstanding whether a defendant breached a duty to care for or supervise a decedent, the decedent’s assumption of the risk of injury may bar recovery. See Sayed v. Azizullah, 238 Ga.App. 642, 643-644 (519 S.E.2d 732) (1999) (finding no need to reach the issue [342 Ga.App. 255] of whether a duty was owed by the defendant to care for the 17-year-old decedent because the decedent was charged with appreciating the risk of swimming in the lake as a matter of law, and he voluntarily assumed that risk); Riley v. Brasunas, 210 Ga.App. 865, 868 (2) (438 S.E.2d 113) (1993) (any failure of the defendant to exercise the duty of an ordinary responsible guardian in watching over the seven-year-old child, who was injured using a trampoline, could not be the proximate cause of the child’s injuries where the child knowingly exposed himself to the obvious danger). See also Bourn v. Herring, 225 Ga. at 69-70 (2) (as the decedent, who was over 14 years old, was chargeable with diligence for his own safety against palpable and manifest peril, plaintiff could not recover against defendants for failure to exercise ordinary care in supervising the decedent in and around the lake in which he drowned).

As Appellants show, a decedent’s decision to enter a body of water with awareness of the physical circumstances is not necessarily determinative of whether the decedent assumed the risk of drowning. For example, the breach of a duty to provide statutorily required safety equipment may be ” inextricable from the proximate cause of the damage.” (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Holbrook v. Exec. Conference Center, 219 Ga.App. 104, 107 (2) (464 S.E.2d 398) (1995) (finding that a jury could determine that the absence of statutorily mandated safety equipment was the proximate cause of the decedent’s drowning in the defendant’s pool). See Alexander v. Harnick, 142 Ga.App. 816, 817 (2) (237 S.E.2d 221) (1977) (where the decedent drowned after she jumped from the defendant’s houseboat into the water in an attempt to rescue her dog, and the defendant did not have any throwable life preservers on board, nor readily accessible life vests, as required by law, ” a jury would not be precluded [802 S.E.2d 442] from finding that the absence of the safety equipment was the proximate cause of the decedent’s death merely because she entered the water voluntarily” ). And in premises liability actions, the general rule is ” that owners or operators of nonresidential swimming facilities owe an affirmative duty to exercise ordinary and reasonable care for the safety and protection of invitees swimming in the pool.” Walker v. Daniels, 200 Ga.App. 150, 155 (1) (407 S.E.2d 70) (1991).

Appellants do not show, however, that Oglethorpe was under a statutory or common law duty to provide safety equipment to its students during an excursion to the beach, or that the ocean is analogous to a nonresidential swimming pool. Nor can we conclude that Oglethorpe became an insurer for the safety of its students by undertaking a study-abroad program, or that it was responsible for the peril encountered by Downes in that it transported him to the beach. Compare Alexander v. Harnick, 142 Ga.App. at 817 (3) (an issue of fact remained as to whether, by taking decedent onto the water without the statutorily required safety equipment, defendant helped to create her peril). Because he was a competent adult, Downes would have appreciated the specific risk of drowning posed by entering a body of water so inherently dangerous as the Pacific Ocean. As Downes voluntarily did so, Oglethorpe established that he assumed that risk. Although Downes’s death was undeniably tragic, we are constrained to conclude that the trial court correctly granted Oglethorpe’s motion for summary judgment.

2. The Appellants’ other claims of error are moot.

Judgment affirmed.

Andrews and Rickman, JJ., concur.

Notes:

[1]The evidence showed that ” [a] rip current is a strong outflow or stream of water usually beginning at the beach, moving perpendicular to the beach, beginning with the neck and then terminating at some point beyond the surf line[.]”

[2]Fletemeyer’s testimony is not explicit as to why pocket beaches are dangerous to swimmers, although, in the context of the line of questioning, his testimony implies that the physical characteristics of pocket beaches are associated with the formation of rip currents.

[3]The evidence did not show that Playa Ventanas, in particular, had an unusually high number of drownings.

[4]The Appellants also contend that the trial court erred in granting Oglethorpe’s motion for summary judgment (1) because Oglethorpe owed a duty to exercise ordinary care for the safety of its students in the planning and implementation of its study-abroad program, and material issues of fact remain regarding Oglethorpe’s negligence, (2) the exculpatory clause in the release agreement signed by Downes is not enforceable, and (3) gross negligence cannot be waived by an exculpatory clause, and material issues of fact remain as to whether Oglethorpe was grossly negligent.


Soderberg, v. Anderson, 906 N.W.2d 889, 2018 Minn. App. LEXIS 47 (Minn. Ct. App., Jan. 16, 2018)

Soderberg, v. Anderson, 906 N.W.2d 889, 2018 Minn. App. LEXIS 47 (Minn. Ct. App., Jan. 16, 2018)

Julie A. Soderberg, Respondent, v. Lucas Anderson, Appellant.

No. A17-0827

Supreme Court of Minnesota

January 23, 2019

Court of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts

James W. Balmer, Falsani, Balmer, Peterson & Balmer, Duluth, Minnesota; and Wilbur W. Fluegel, Fluegel Law Office, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent.

Nathan T. Cariveau, Eden Prairie, Minnesota; and John M. Bjorkman, Larson King, LLP, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.

Brian N. Johnson, Peter Gray, Nilan, Johnson, Lewis, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Minnesota Ski Areas Association.

Peter F. Lindquist, Jardine, Logan & O’Brien, P.L.L.P., Lake Elmo, Minnesota; and Thomas P. Aicher, Cleary Shahi & Aicher, P.C., Rutland, Vermont, for amicus curiae National Ski Areas Association.

Jeffrey J. Lindquist, Pustorino, Tilton, Parrington & Lindquist, PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association.

Matthew J. Barber, James Ballentine, Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Minnesota Association for Justice.

SYLLABUS

The doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk does not apply to a claim in negligence for injuries arising out of recreational downhill skiing and snowboarding.

Affirmed.

OPINION

LILLEHAUG, JUSTICE.

In 2016, a ski area outside Duluth, Spirit Mountain, was the scene of an accident that caused severe injuries to a ski instructor. While teaching a young student, the instructor was struck by an adult snowboarder performing an aerial trick. The instructor sued the snowboarder for negligence, but the district court dismissed her claim based on the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk, which is a complete bar to tort liability. The court of appeals reversed. Soderberg v. Anderson, 906 N.W.2d 889 (Minn.App. 2018). This appeal requires that we decide, for the first time, whether to extend that doctrine to recreational skiing and snowboarding. We decide not to extend it and, therefore, affirm the court of appeals’ decision, though on different grounds.

FACTS

On the morning of January 3, 2016, appellant Lucas Anderson, age 35, went snowboarding at Spirit Mountain near Duluth. Spirit Mountain welcomes both skiers and snowboarders to enjoy runs marked “easiest,” “more difficult,” and “difficult.” Anderson considered himself to be an expert snowboarder. He began skiing in elementary school and took up snowboarding when he was 15.

When Anderson snowboarded at Spirit Mountain, he typically warmed up by going down less challenging runs. That morning, Anderson went down part of a “more difficult” run called Scissor Bill, which merges with an “easiest” run called Four Pipe. As he left Scissor Bill and entered Four Pipe, Anderson slowed down, looked up for other skiers and snowboarders coming down the hill, and proceeded downhill.

Anderson then increased his speed, used a hillock as a jump, and performed an aerial trick called a backside 180. To perform the trick, Anderson-riding his snowboard “regular”-went airborne, turned 180 degrees clockwise, and prepared to land “goofy.”[1]Halfway through the trick, Anderson’s back was fully facing downhill. He could not see what was below him.

Respondent Julie Soderberg was below him. A ski instructor employed by Spirit Mountain, she was giving a lesson to a six-year-old child in an area of Four Pipe marked “slow skiing area.” At the moment when Anderson launched his aerial trick, Soderberg’s student was in the center of the run. Soderberg was approximately 10 to 15 feet downhill from, and to the left of, her student. She was looking over her right shoulder at her student.

As Anderson came down from his aerial maneuver, he landed on Soderberg, hitting her behind her left shoulder. Soderberg lost consciousness upon impact. She sustained serious injuries.

Soderberg sued Anderson for negligence. Anderson moved for summary judgment, arguing that, based on undisputed facts and the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk, he owed Soderberg no duty of care and was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The district court granted summary judgment in Anderson’s favor.

The court of appeals reversed and remanded. Soderberg, 906 N.W.2d at 894. Based on its own precedent of Peterson ex rel. Peterson v. Donahue, 733 N.W.2d 790 (Minn.App. 2007), rev. denied (Minn. Aug. 21, 2007), the court of appeals assumed that the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk generally applies to actions between skiers. Soderberg, 906 N.W.2d at 892. The court then held that material fact issues precluded summary judgment as to whether Soderberg appreciated the risk that she could be crushed from above in a slow skiing area, and whether Anderson’s conduct “enlarged the inherent risks of skiing.” Id. at 893-94. Concluding that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Anderson, the court of appeals remanded the case to the district court. Id. at 894. We granted Anderson’s petition for review and directed the parties to specifically address whether Minnesota should continue to recognize the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk.

ANALYSIS

Anderson argues that he owed no duty of care to Soderberg based on the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk. The doctrine of primary assumption of risk is part of our common law. Springrose v. Willmore, 192 N.W.2d 826, 827-28 (Minn. 1971). The application or extension of our common law is a question of law that we review de novo. See Gieseke ex rel. Diversified Water Diversion, Inc. v. IDCA, Inc., 844 N.W.2d 210, 214 (Minn. 2014).

In Springrose, we clarified the distinction between primary and secondary assumption of risk. Secondary assumption of risk is an affirmative defense that may be invoked when the plaintiff has unreasonably and voluntarily chosen to encounter a known and appreciated danger created by the defendant’s negligence. Springrose, 192 N.W.2d at 827. Secondary assumption of risk is “an aspect of contributory negligence,” and is part of the calculation of comparative fault. Id.

By contrast, primary assumption of risk is not a defense and applies only in limited circumstances. Daly v. McFarland, 812 N.W.2d 113, 120-21 (Minn. 2012); Springrose, 192 N.W.2d at 827 (explaining that primary assumption of risk “is not . . . an affirmative defense”). Unlike secondary assumption, primary assumption of risk “completely bars a plaintiff’s claim because it negates the defendant’s duty of care to the plaintiff.” Daly, 812 N.W.2d at 119. Therefore, primary assumption of risk precludes liability for negligence, Springrose, 192 N.W.2d at 827, and is not part of the calculation of comparative fault. Primary assumption of risk “arises ‘only where parties have voluntarily entered a relationship in which plaintiff assumes well-known, incidental risks.'” Bjerke v. Johnson, 742 N.W.2d 660, 669 (Minn. 2007) (quoting Olson v. Hansen, 216 N.W.2d 124, 127 (Minn. 1974)); see Armstrong v. Mailand, 284 N.W.2d 343, 351 (Minn. 1979) (noting that the application of primary assumption of risk “is dependent upon the plaintiff’s manifestation of consent, express or implied, to relieve the defendant of a duty”).

Here, the parties agree that Soderberg did not expressly assume the risk of being hit by Anderson. So the issue is whether she assumed the risk by implication.

We first considered the applicability of the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk to sporting events in Wells v. Minneapolis Baseball & Athletic Ass’n, 142 N.W. 706 (Minn. 1913), a case in which a spectator at a baseball game was injured by a fly ball. Id. at 707. We rejected the proposition that spectators assume the risk of injury if seated behind the protective screen between home plate and the grandstand. Id. at 707-08. We determined that the ball club was “bound to exercise reasonable care” to protect them by furnishing screens of sufficient size. Id. at 708 (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Nineteen years later, we held that a spectator assumed the risk of injury of being hit by a foul ball by sitting outside the screened-in area. Brisson v. Minneapolis Baseball & Athletic Ass’n, 240 N.W. 903, 904 (Minn. 1932). We concluded that the ball club had provided enough screened-in seating “for the most dangerous part of the grand stand.” Id. We later clarified in Aldes v. Saint Paul Ball Club, Inc., 88 N.W.2d 94 (Minn. 1958), that a baseball patron “assumes only the risk of injury from hazards inherent in the sport, not the risk of injury arising from the proprietor’s negligence.” Id. at 97. Thus, the doctrine applies to “hazards inherent in the sport.” Id.

We applied our flying-baseball cases to flying golf balls in Grisim v. TapeMark Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament, 415 N.W.2d 874 (Minn. 1987). We held that injury from a flying golf ball was an inherent danger of the sport. Id. at 875. The tournament’s sole duty, we said, was to provide the spectator with “a reasonable opportunity to view the participants from a safe area.” Id. But we did not say that recreational golfing negligence claims are barred by the doctrine. Nor did we cast doubt on our decision in Hollinbeck v. Downey, 113 N.W.2d 9, 12-13 (Minn. 1962), which held that if a golfer knows that another person is in the zone of danger, the golfer should either give the other a warning or desist from striking the ball. See Grisim, 415 N.W.2d at 875-76 (distinguishing the facts in Grisim from those in Hollinbeck, 113 N.W.2d at 12-13, and therefore declining to apply Hollinbeck).

We have also extended the doctrine to two forms of ice skating: hockey and figure skating. Flying pucks are part of the inherently dangerous game of hockey, we held in Modec v. City of Eveleth, 29 N.W.2d 453, 456-57 (Minn. 1947). We stated that “[a]ny person of ordinary intelligence cannot watch a game of hockey for any length of time without realizing the risks involved to players and spectators alike.” Id. at 455.[2]

We applied the doctrine to recreational figure skating in Moe v. Steenberg, 147 N.W.2d 587 (Minn. 1966), in which one ice skater sued another for injuries arising out of a collision on the ice. Id. at 588. We held that the plaintiff” ‘assumed risks that were inherent in the sport or amusement in which she was engaged, such as falls and collisions with other skaters. . . .'” Id. at 589 (quoting Schamel v. St. Louis Arena Corp., 324 S.W.2d 375, 378 (Mo.Ct.App. 1959)). But we excluded from the doctrine skating that is “so reckless or inept as to be wholly unanticipated.” Id. Along the same lines, in Wagner v. Thomas J. Obert Enterprises, 396 N.W.2d 223 (Minn. 1986), we counted roller skating among other “inherently dangerous sporting events” in which participants assume the risks inherent in the sport. Id. at 226. We made clear, however, that “[n]egligent maintenance and supervision of a skating rink are not inherent risks of the sport itself.” Id.

Recreational snowmobiling, though, is a different matter. We have consistently declined to apply the doctrine to bar claims arising out of collisions between snowmobilers. In Olson v. Hansen, 216 N.W.2d 124 (Minn. 1974), we observed that, although snowmobiles can tip or roll, such a hazard “is one that can be successfully avoided. A snowmobile, carefully operated, is no more hazardous than an automobile, train, or taxi.” Id. at 128. Similarly, we “refused to relieve [a] defendant of the duty to operate his snowmobile reasonably and analyzed the defendant’s conduct under the doctrine of secondary assumption of risk.” Daly v. McFarland, 812 N.W.2d, 113, 120-21 (Minn. 2012) (citing Carpenter v. Mattison, 219 N.W.2d 625, 629 (Minn. 1974)). In 2012, we reaffirmed that snowmobiling is not an inherently dangerous sporting activity. Id. at 121-22.

The closest we have come to discussing the application of implied primary assumption of risk to recreational downhill skiing was in Seidl v. Trollhaugen, Inc., 232 N.W.2d 236 (Minn. 1975). That case involved a claim by a ski area patron who had been struck by a ski instructor. Id. at 239-40. The cause of action arose before Springrose. Id. at 240 n.1. We did not analyze the question of whether the doctrine of primary assumption of risk applied to recreational skiing and snowboarding. See id. at 240 & n.1. Instead, we affirmed the district court’s decision not to submit to the jury, for lack of evidence, the issue of secondary assumption of risk. Id. at 240-41.

With this case law in mind, we turn now to the question of whether to follow the example of the court of appeals in Peterson, 733 N.W.2d 790, and extend the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk to recreational downhill skiing and snowboarding.[3] To do so would relieve skiers and snowboarders (collectively, “skiers”) of any duty of care owed to others while engaged in their activity. We decide not to do so, for three reasons.

First, although there is no question that skiers can and do collide with one another, the record does not substantiate that injurious collisions between skiers are so frequent and damaging that they must be considered inherent in the sport. As the National Ski Areas Association has recognized through its seven-point Responsibility Code (adopted by Spirit Mountain), skiing and snowboarding contain “elements of risk,” but “common sense and personal awareness can help reduce” them. This recognition counsels against a flat no-duty rule that would benefit those who ski negligently. As the Connecticut Supreme Court has explained, “If skiers act in accordance with the rules and general practices of the sport, at reasonable speeds, and with a proper lookout for others on the slopes, the vast majority of contact between participants will be eliminated. The same may not be said of soccer, football, basketball and hockey . . . .” Jagger v. Mohawk Mountain Ski Area, Inc., 849 A.2d 813, 832 (Conn. 2004). We relied on similar reasoning in our line of recreational snowmobiling cases, in which we noted that the hazard “is one that can be successfully avoided.” Olson, 216 N.W.2d at 128.

Second, even though today we do not overrule our precedent regarding flying sports objects and slippery rinks, we are loathe to extend the doctrine of implied primary assumption to yet another activity. “The doctrine of assumption of risk is not favored, and should be limited rather than extended.” Suess v. Arrowhead Steel Prods. Co., 230 N.W. 125, 126 (Minn. 1930). Our most recent case considering implied primary assumption of risk, Daly, reflects that reluctance.[4] See 812 N.W.2d at 119-22. Similarly, the nationwide trend has been toward the abolition or limitation of the common-law doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk. See Leavitt v. Gillaspie, 443 P.2d 61, 68 (Alaska 1968); 1800 Ocotillo, LLC v. WLB Grp., Inc., 196 P.3d 222, 226-28 (Ariz. 2008); Dawson v. Fulton, 745 S.W.2d 617, 619 (Ark. 1988); P.W. v. Children’s Hosp. Colo., 364 P.3d 891, 895-99 (Colo. 2016); Blackburn v. Dorta, 348 So.2d 287, 291-92 (Fla. 1977); Salinas v. Vierstra, 695 P.2d 369, 374-75 (Idaho 1985); Pfenning v. Lineman, 947 N.E.2d 392, 403-04 (Ind. 2011); Simmons v. Porter, 312 P.3d 345, 354-55 (Kan. 2013); Murray v. Ramada Inns, Inc., 521 So.2d 1123, 1132-33 (La. 1988); Wilson v. Gordon, 354 A.2d 398, 401-02 (Me. 1976); Abernathy v. Eline Oil Field Servs., Inc., 650 P.2d 772, 775-76 (Mont. 1982) (holding that “the doctrine of implied assumption of risk is no longer applicable in Montana”); McGrath v. Am. Cyanamid Co., 196 A.2d 238, 239-41 (N.J. 1963); Iglehart v. Iglehart, 670 N.W.2d 343, 349-50 (N.D. 2003); Christensen v. Murphy, 678 P.2d 1210, 1216-18 (Or. 1984); Perez v. McConkey, 872 S.W.2d 897, 905-06 (Tenn. 1994); Nelson v. Great E. Resort Mgmt., Inc., 574 S.E.2d 277, 280-82 (Va. 2003); King v. Kayak Mfg. Corp., 387 S.E.2d 511, 517-19 ( W.Va. 1989) (modifying the defense “to bring it in line with the doctrine of comparative contributory negligence”); Polsky v. Levine, 243 N.W.2d 503, 505-06 (Wis. 1976); O’Donnell v. City of Casper, 696 P.2d 1278, 1281-84 (Wyo. 1985).

Third, we are not persuaded that, if we do not apply the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk to recreational downhill skiing and snowboarding, Minnesotans will be deterred from vigorously participating and ski operators will be adversely affected. No evidence in the record suggests that the prospect of negligent patrons being held liable chills participation in skiing and snowboarding. Logically, it seems just as likely that the prospect of an absolute bar to recovery could deter the participation of prospective victims of negligent patrons.[5]

Although we decline to further extend the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk, we also decline to overrule our precedent by abolishing the doctrine in its entirety. We ordered briefing on the question of abolition, and we appreciate the well-researched submissions and arguments of the parties and amici. But, as we said in Daly, in which we declined to extend the doctrine to snowmobiling,” ‘[w]e are extremely reluctant to overrule our precedent . . . . ‘” 812 N.W.2d at 121 (quoting State v. Martin, 773 N.W.2d 89, 98 (Minn. 2009)). And we still see a role-limited as it may be-for this common-law doctrine in cases involving the sports to which it has been applied.

Because we decline to extend the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk to recreational downhill skiing and snowboarding, we need not reach the question of whether the court of appeals, which assumed the doctrine applied, [6] erroneously concluded that genuine issues of material fact preclude summary judgment. Instead, we affirm the court of appeals’ disposition-reversal and remand-on a different ground.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the decision of the court of appeals.

Affirmed.

ANDERSON, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

———

Notes:

[1] Riding a snowboard “regular” means that the rider’s left foot is in the front of the snowboard, the rider’s right foot is in the back, and the rider is facing right. Riding “goofy” means that the rider’s right foot is in the front, the rider’s left foot is in the back, and the rider is facing left.

[2] In Diker v. City of St. Louis Park, 130 N.W.2d 113, 118 (Minn. 1964), and citing Modec, we stated the general rule of assumption of risk in hockey, but did not apply the rule to “a boy only 10 years of age.”

[3] In Peterson, the court of appeals affirmed the decision of the district court, which granted summary judgment to a defendant on the plaintiff’s negligence claim stemming from a collision between the two on a ski hill. 733 N.W.2d at 791. Based on other decisions in which “courts have applied primary assumption of the risk to actions between sporting participants,” the court of appeals held that “primary assumption of the risk applies to actions between skiers who knew and appreciated the risk of collision.” Id. at 792-93.

[4] That reluctance is also reflected in another case decided today, Henson v. Uptown Drink, LLC, N.W.2d (Minn. Jan. 23, 2019), in which we decline to extend the doctrine of implied primary assumption of risk to the operation and patronage of bars.

[5] Spirit Mountain (like many ski operators) relies on the doctrine of express primary assumption of risk. It requires patrons to execute forms and wear lift tickets whereby patrons expressly assume all risks of injury and release their legal rights.

[6] Based on our decision here, the court of appeals’ decision in Peterson, 733 N.W.2d 790, holding that implied primary assumption of risk applies to collisions between skiers, is overruled.

 


Paperwork, the death of trees and in this case the only defense the defendant had at this stage of the trial because the paperwork was not taken care of properly.

The youth camp failed to keep a good copy of the registration paperwork. What was presented to the court as a forum selection clause was illegible so the court held it was not valid.

Epps, et al., v. 1.I.L., INC., d/b/a Independent Lake Camp, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93335, 2007 WL 4463588

State: Pennsylvania, United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Plaintiff: Ben Epps, et al.

Defendant: 1.I.L., INC., d/b/a Independent Lake Camp

Plaintiff Claims: Negligence

Defendant Defenses: Motion to Dismiss because of improper venue

Holding: For the Plaintiff

Year: 2007

Summary

Lawsuits are not games; they are not invitations to parties, there is a lot of money riding on the outcome in most cases. Documents needed for the case must be given to the attorneys defending the case in the condition in which they are maintained. In this case, a document was faxed to the defense attorneys and in such a bad way the court could not read the document. Since the court could not read the document, the court assumed the original was the same, and therefore, the document was not valid.

At the same time, if you are collecting and keeping documents that may end up in court, you need to create a system that preserves these documents in perfect condition so if they do get to court the judge can read them.

Finally, you must get the documents from the people you need a signature from in a condition the court will accept.

Facts

Plaintiffs allege that on June 24, 2005, their son, Axel, fell from a bike and was seriously injured while attending Defendant’s Independent Lake Camp located in Orson, Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs allege that Axel’s accident was caused by Defendant’s negligence while Defendant was acting in loco parentis. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant: 1) failed to provide proper supervision and safeguards; 2) gave Axel a bike, helmet, and other equipment without properly training him to use them; 3) allowed Axel to use a bike track, which was inappropriate for his age and experience; and 4) failed to obtain parental consent for its actions.

Plaintiffs further allege that Axel suffered serious and permanent physical injuries, including permanent cognitive and psychological damage, several fractures, lacerations resulting in scarring, cervical and lumbar sprain, and a shock to his nervous system. Plaintiffs also claim that Axel’s injuries include severe financial losses in the form of future costs of treatment and therapy, loss of earnings, and loss of earning capacity.

Defendant brought its motion to dismiss for improper venue alleging that the Registration Agreement, which Plaintiffs had to sign for Axel to attend camp, contained a forum selection clause. Defendant attached a blank, unsigned version of the Independent Lake Camp Registration 2005 (“Registration Agreement”) to its motion to dismiss. Defendant alleges that under the Registration Agreement, the proper forum would be a court in Wayne County, which is located in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

In Plaintiffs’ response to Defendant’s motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs argued that the blank Registration Agreement was unsigned and thus that Defendant failed to show that Plaintiffs had agreed to the terms in the document, including the forum selection clause. Plaintiffs averred by affidavit that they did not agree and would not have agreed to such a forum selection clause.

Defendant then provided a signed copy of the Registration Agreement, in which the information requested had been filled in and which was signed by Plaintiff Ben Epps. Defendant submitted an affidavit by Daniel Gould, the president of Defendant and Director of Independent Lake Camp. Mr. Gould avers that, after an exhaustive and diligent search, Defendant could only locate a photocopy of the signed Registration Agreement and was unable to locate the original. He avers that the original agreement is presumed lost and/or destroyed through no bad faith or improper act on the part of Defendant. The photocopy of the agreement provided to the court also appears to be a faxed copy, as evident from a fax header across the top margin.

In the copy of the signed Registration Agreement submitted by Defendant, the small print containing the terms of the agreement is blurry and barely legible. As Defendant concedes, the right-side margin, toward the bottom, is cut off, truncating the forum selection clause.

Analysis: making sense of the law based on these facts.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss because the plaintiffs had filed the case in the wrong court according to the agreement, the registration form signed by the parents of the injured youth. The forum selection clause as defined by the courts or agreement to hold the trial at a specific court, allegedly stated the trial was to be held in Wayne County Court, Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs filed the case in the federal district our in Pennsylvania. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss from federal court and force the case to the state court.

The jurisdiction in the case was going to be Pennsylvania law no matter what; however, the trial would not be held in the back yard of the defendant, which is normally a good thing for the defendant.

When in the federal district court system, if a forum selection clause is upheld the case is simply transferred to the proper court. However, in this case because the selection clause stated a state court the case could not be transferred. The case would be dismissed at the federal court. The case could be refiled in the state court at that time if the statute of limitations had not run.

However, here, the document that was presented to the court that was the alleged agreement by the parents to only sue in state court was not legible.

The court agrees that the small print of the forum selection clause in the photocopied and faxed signed Registration Agreement is blurry and illegible, and does not provide reasonable notice of its terms. The court cannot assume that Mr. Epps signed a clear version of the agreement that became blurry and illegible upon subsequently being photocopied and faxed, because such evidence is not before the court. There is no evidence that Plaintiff Ben Epps signed any version of the Registration Agreement other than the document provided to the court.

Further, even if the forum selection clause were legible, it’s essential term, that any cause of action be brought in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, is cut off so as to be incomprehensible. Even if legible, the term “V– County Pennsylvania” in the forum selection clause gives no reasonable notice of the location of any agreed-upon forum.

The court concludes that the forum selection clause is inconspicuous and does not give notice of its terms to a reasonable person in violation of strong Pennsylvania public policy. The forum selection clause therefore is unreasonable, invalid, and unenforceable. Because the court finds that the forum selection clause is unreasonable and invalid, it does not address the private and public factors as transfer considerations under § 1404(a).

The agreement was a copy that had been faxed, was illegible and could not be read by the court.

Since the court could not read the document, the legal wording was incomplete and the entire document had sections missing the court could not find there was an agreement. The motion to change venue was dismissed.

So Now What?

I would guess the camp had received the faxed copy from the parents. There would be no need to fax the documents around the camp. The camp probably had sent the documents to the parents for their signature, and they had faxed them back. This was mistake one, because the camp accepted a badly faxed copy of the document.

  1. When you receive an email, fax, or original where you cannot make out what is going on, signature seems off, the document is unreadable, you must get a good copy. Tell the signor to do it again and make the copy legible.
  2. Set up a system to check documents when they come in.
  3. Set the system up with enough time so that is time to correct problems. Don’t place yourself in a position where you are balancing the money coming in versus proper paperwork you need.

Second, the camp seemed to not locate the original fax, but only had a copy of the faxed document.

  1. Develop a system to store and maintain the documents. Now day’s scanners are so efficient all the documents can be scanned and maintained in seconds. The original paper documents can be preserved and kept for the statue of limitations for the state, and a good electronic copy is also available.

Don’t allow a kid or adult to come to camp, attend the program, participate in the activity unless you have all the paperwork you need, signed and in a good legible condition. Then and only then cash the check and open the gates.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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forum selection clause, venue, parties, improper venue, enforceability, terms, legible, notice, motion to dismiss, conspicuous, applies, factors, invalid, print, 1.I.L., INC., Independent Lake Camp, forum selection clause,


Epps, et al., v. 1.I.L., INC., d/b/a Independent Lake Camp, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93335, 2007 WL 4463588

Epps, et al., v. 1.I.L., INC., d/b/a Independent Lake Camp, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93335, 2007 WL 4463588

Ben Epps, et al., Plaintiffs, v. 1.I.L., INC., d/b/a Independent Lake Camp, Defendant.

Civil Action No. 07-02314

United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

December 19, 2007

ORDER

MEMORANDUM

James T. Giles J.

I. Introduction

Before the court is Defendant 1.I.L., Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3). Plaintiffs, Bens Epps and Amy Monroe, as parents and natural guardians of Axel Epps and in their own right, bring suit based in diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, against Defendant 1.I.L. Inc. for personal injuries allegedly sustained by their son, Axel, while attending Defendant’s camp.

The primary issue raised by Defendant’s motion and determined by the court is whether the forum selection clause in the Registration Agreement at issue is valid and enforceable. The court finds that the forum selection clause contained in the signed Registration Agreement is not enforceable because it does not provide reasonable notice of its terms. The court concludes that Plaintiffs have brought suit in a proper venue and denies Defendant’s motion to dismiss for the reasons that follow.

II. Factual Background

Plaintiffs allege that on June 24, 2005, their son, Axel, fell from a bike and was seriously injured while attending Defendant’s Independant Lake Camp located in Orson, Wayne County, Pennsylvania. (Pls.’ Compl. ¶ 6.) Plaintiffs allege that Axel’s accident was caused by Defendant’s negligence while Defendant was acting in loco parentis. (Pls.’ Compl. ¶ 7.) Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant: 1) failed to provide proper supervision and safeguards; 2) gave Axel a bike, helmet, and other equipment without properly training him to use them; 3) allowed Axel to use a bike track, which was inappropriate for his age and experience; and 4) failed to obtain parental consent for its actions. (Pls.’ Compl. ¶ 8.)

Plaintiffs further allege that Axel suffered serious and permanent physical injuries, including permanent cognitive and psychological damage, several fractures, lacerations resulting in scarring, cervical and lumbar sprain, and a shock to his nervous system. (Pls.’ Compl. ¶ 9.) Plaintiffs also claim that Axel’s injuries include severe financial losses in the form of future costs of treatment and therapy, loss of earnings, and loss of earning capacity.

Plaintiffs, citizens of New York, brought suit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania because Defendant is a citizen of Pennsylvania with offices in both Montgomery County and Wayne County. (Pls.’ Compl. ¶ 1-4; Pls.’ Br. in Supp. of Ans. to Mot. of Def. to Dismiss for Improper Venue (“Pls.’ Supp. Ans.”) 1; Def.’s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss for Improper Venue (“Def.’s Supp.”) 1, 5.) Plaintiffs demand damages in excess of $150,000 for each of the two counts in the complaint as well as interest and costs of the suit.

III. Procedural History

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on June 7, 2007. Defendant brought its motion to dismiss for improper venue alleging that the Registration Agreement, which Plaintiffs had to sign for Axel to attend camp, contained a forum selection clause. (Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss 2.) Defendant attached a blank, unsigned version of the Independent Lake Camp Registration 2005 (“Registration Agreement”) to its motion to dismiss. (Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. A.) Defendant alleges that under the Registration Agreement, the proper forum would be a court in Wayne County, which is located in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. A.) The blank Registration Agreement, in which the print is small but clear and legible, provides in part:

It is agreed that any dispute or cause of action arising between the parties, whether out of this agreement or other wise [sic], can only be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction located in Wayne County Pennsylvania [sic] and shall be construed in accordance with the laws of Pennsylvania.

(Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. A.)

In Plaintiffs’ response to Defendant’s motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs argued that the blank Registration Agreement was unsigned and thus that Defendant failed to show that Plaintiffs had agreed to the terms in the document, including the forum selection clause. Plaintiffs averred by affidavit that they did not agree and would not have agreed to such a forum selection clause. (Pls.’ Supp. Ans. 2, Ex. B ¶¶ 2-3 (Ben Epps Aff.), Ex. C ¶¶ 2-3 (Amy Monroe Aff.).)

Defendant then provided a signed copy of the Registration Agreement, in which the information requested had been filled in and which was signed by Plaintiff Ben Epps. Defendant submitted an affidavit by Daniel Gould, the president of Defendant and Director of Independent Lake Camp. Mr. Gould avers that, after an exhaustive and diligent search, Defendant could only locate a photocopy of the signed Registration Agreement and was unable to locate the original. (Gould Aff. ¶¶ 5, 7-10.) He avers that the original agreement is presumed lost and/or destroyed through no bad faith or improper act on the part of Defendant. (Gould Aff. ¶ 10.) The photocopy of the agreement provided to the court also appears to be a faxed copy, as evident from a fax header across the top margin. (Gould Aff. Ex. A (Signed Registration Agreement).)

In the copy of the signed Registration Agreement submitted by Defendant, the small print containing the terms of the agreement is blurry and barely legible. As Defendant concedes, the right-side margin, toward the bottom, is cut off, truncating the forum selection clause. (Gould Aff. ¶ 6, Ex. A.) Consequently, if the print were clearly legible, when compared with the clear, blank version of the agreement, the forum selection clause would read:

It is agree [sic] any dispute or cause of action arising between the parties, whether out of this agreement or other wise [sic], can only be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction located in V [or three-quarters of a W] County Pennsylvania [sic] and shall be construed in accordance with the laws of Pennsylvania.

(Gould Aff. Ex. A.) Thus, if legible, most or all of the letters in the word “Wayne,” as in “Wayne County Pennsylvania,” are missing. (Gould Aff. ¶ 6, Ex. A.)

In Plaintiffs’ reply to Defendant’s affidavit, Plaintiffs do not dispute that Plaintiff Ben Epps’ signature appears on the copy of the Registration Agreement. Nor do Plaintiffs argue that the entire agreement itself is invalid. (Compare Pls.’ Supp. Ans. 2-3 (arguing, before Defendant’s production of a signed agreement, that the Registration Agreement was not enforceable because there was no objective manifestation of the parties’ intention to be contractually bound), with Pls.’ Reply to Def.’s Aff. 1 (arguing, after Defendant’s production of a signed Registration Agreement, that there was no meeting of the minds as to the forum selection clause because the wording of the clause was truncated and indiscernible).) Thus, the issue determined by the court is the enforceability of the forum selection clause.

III. Discussion

Federal law applies in the determination of the effect given to a forum selection clause in diversity cases. Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 877 (3d Cir. 1995) (quoting Jones v. Weibrecht, 901 F.2d 17, 19 (2d Cir. 1990)). To evaluate the enforceability of the forum selection clause here, the court determines if the standard for dismissal or transfer is proper.[1] See id. at 877-78. If the standard for transfer applies, the court then determines if the forum selection clause is reasonable. See id. at 880 (citing M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1, 12-13 (1972)).

A. Dismissal or Transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) or 1406.

Although dismissal is a “permissible means of enforcing a forum selection clause that allows suit to be filed in another federal forum,” the Third Circuit cautions that “as a general matter, it makes better sense, when venue is proper but the parties have agreed upon a not- unreasonable forum selection clause that points to another federal venue, to transfer rather than dismiss.” Salovaara v. Jackson Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 246 F.3d 289, 298-99 (3d Cir. 2001); see Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 28-29, 32 (1988) (holding that a federal court sitting in diversity jurisdiction should treat a request to enforce a forum selection clause in a contract as a motion to transfer venue under applicable federal law, 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)); 15 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3803.1 (2d ed. 1986 & Supp. 2006).

Transfer, however, is not available when a forum selection clause specifies a non-federal forum. Salovaara, 246 F.3d at 298. The forum selection clause in the Registration Agreement, if valid and untruncated, would provide that “any dispute . . . can only be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction located in Wayne County Pennsylvania” and does not limit jurisdiction to state court. The provision’s plain language is construed to permit the action in any court of the county, including the federal court in the federal judicial district encompassing Wayne County, Pennsylvania, regardless of whether the federal court is physically located in the county. See Jumara, 55 F.3d at 881 (construing an arbitration provision requiring the action to transpire within a particular county to mean that the action would be permitted in any court, state or federal, with jurisdiction encompassing that county). Transfer is an available remedy because the forum selection clause, if valid and untruncated, includes a federal forum. See id. at 881-83 (applying the § 1404(a) analysis for transfer where a forum selection clause permitted any state or federal forum within a particular county).

Because transfer is the appropriate remedy, the court must then consider whether 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) or § 1406 applies. “Section 1404(a) provides for the transfer of a case where both the original venue and the requested venue are proper. Section 1406, on the other hand, applies where the original venue is improper and provides for either transfer or dismissal of the case.” Id. at 878. Whether venue is proper in this district is governed by the federal venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391. Id.

Without considering the forum selection clause, venue is proper in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Neither party disputes that Defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction in this district because Defendant transacts business here. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c); Jumara, 55 F.3d at 878-79; Stewart, 487 U.S. at 29 n.8 (“The parties do not dispute that the District Court properly denied the motion to dismiss the case for improper venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) because respondent apparently does business [there].”); see also (Pls.’ Supp. Ans. 1; Def.’s Supp. 3). This court therefore concludes that the appropriate analysis is whether the case should be transferred under § 1404(a). See Salovaara, 246 F.3d at 298-99.

B. Transfer under 1404(a) Is Improper Because the Forum Selection Clause Is Unreasonable and Unenforceable.

Section 1404(a) controls the inquiry of whether to give effect to a forum selection clause and to transfer a case.[2] Stewart, 487 U.S. at 29, 32. Before considering the factors under Section 1404(a), the court first examines the validity or reasonableness of the forum selection clause through application of the test in M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1, 12-13 (1972). “Where the forum selection clause is valid, which requires that there have been no ‘fraud, influence, or overweening bargaining power,’ the plaintiffs bear the burden of demonstrating why they should not be bound by their contractual choice of forum.” Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879-80 (quoting Bremen, 407 U.S. at 12-13).

A forum selection clause is unreasonable and invalid if the objecting party demonstrates that (1) the forum selection clause is the result of fraud or overreaching, (2) its enforcement would violate a strong public policy of the forum, or (3) its enforcement would result in litigation so seriously inconvenient and unreasonable that it would deprive a litigant of his or her day in court. Bremen, 407 U.S. at 15-17; In re Diaz Contracting, Inc., 817 F.2d 1047, 1051-52 (3d Cir. 1987).

To dispose of this issue, the court need only address whether the enforcement of the forum selection clause violates a strong public policy of the forum. Under Pennsylvania law, a clause in a contract must be conspicuous, so as to provide notice of its terms to a reasonable person. See, e.g., 13 Pa.C.S. § 2316 (requiring that limitation of warranties terms be conspicuous); 13 Pa.C.S. § 1201 (defining “conspicuous”); Beck-Hummel v. Ski Shawnee, Inc., 2006 Pa. Super 159, P23-24 & n.12-13 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2006) (relying on the requirement for conspicuous terms in the sale of goods context in a case involving the sale of services, and finding that disclaimer language on a ski ticket was not sufficiently conspicuous to put a purchaser on notice of its contents). Plaintiffs argue that the forum selection clause contained in the signed Registration Agreement is invalid because the wording of the clause is “truncated and indiscernible.” (Pls.’ Reply 1.)

The court agrees that the small print of the forum selection clause in the photocopied and faxed signed Registration Agreement is blurry and illegible, and does not provide reasonable notice of its terms. The court cannot assume that Mr. Epps signed a clear version of the agreement that became blurry and illegible upon subsequently being photocopied and faxed, because such evidence is not before the court. There is no evidence that Plaintiff Ben Epps signed any version of the Registration Agreement other than the document provided to the court.

Further, even if the forum selection clause were legible, its essential term, that any cause of action be brought in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, is cut off so as to be incomprehensible. Even if legible, the term “V– County Pennsylvania” in the forum selection clause gives no reasonable notice of the location of any agreed-upon forum.

The court concludes that the forum selection clause is inconspicuous and does not give notice of its terms to a reasonable person in violation of strong Pennsylvania public policy. The forum selection clause therefore is unreasonable, invalid, and unenforceable. Because the court finds that the forum selection clause is unreasonable and invalid, it does not address the private and public factors as transfer considerations under § 1404(a).

V. Conclusion

For the foregoing reasons, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue is denied. An appropriate order follows.

ORDER

AND NOW, this 19th day of December, 2007, upon consideration of Defendant 1.I.L., Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue (Doc. No. 4), Plaintiffs’ Response in opposition thereto, Defendant’s Affidavit of Daniel Gould and Exhibits (Doc. Nos. 8 & 9), and Plaintiffs’ Reply, it is hereby ORDERED that said motion is DENIED for the reasons set forth in the attached memorandum.

Notes:

[1] Prior to Defendant’s production of a signed Registration Agreement, Plaintiffs argued that the forum selection clause should not be enforced because it did not meet the standard of reasonable communicativeness, as set forth in Marek v. Marpan Two, Inc., 817 F.2d 242, 245 (3d Cir. 1987), due to the agreement’s small print. Marek applies primarily in cases involving maritime law. See, e.g., Gibbs v. Carnival Cruise Lines, 314 F.3d 125, 130 (3d Cir. 2002); Hodes v. S. N.C. Achille Lauro ed Altri-Gestione, 858 F.2d 905, 906, 909-12 (3d Cir. 1988). As discussed below, the court follows more recent Third Circuit precedent on the enforceability of forum selection clauses.

[2] Section 1404(a) provides that “a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought” for “the convenience of parties and witnesses” and “in the interest of justice.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); see Stewart, 487 U.S. at 29. Courts must adjudicate motions to transfer based on an “individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness,” weighing a number of factors. Id. (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 622 (1964)). A court’s review is not limited to the three enumerated factors in § 1404(a) – convenience of the parties, convenience of witnesses, or interests of justice – and courts may consider various private and public interests. Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879-80.

The parties’ agreement as to the proper forum, although not dispositive, receives “substantial consideration” in the weighing of relevant factors. Id. at 880; see Stewart, 487 U.S. at 29-30 (“The presence of a forum selection clause . . . will be a significant factor that figures centrally in the district court’s calculus. . . . The flexible and individualized analysis Congress prescribed in § 1404(a) thus encompasses consideration of the parties’ private expression of their venue preferences.”). The deference generally given to a plaintiff’s choice of forum is “inappropriate where the plaintiff has already freely chosen an appropriate venue.” Jumara, 55 F.3d at 880.


New Regulations have been issued by the CO Department of Labor & Employment for Amusement Rides and Devices

That means Trampoline Parks, Ropes Courses, Climbing Walls, Playground Equipment, Climbers, Fitness Devices, Exercise Equipment, Paddle Boats, any amusement ride operated at a private event and the list goes on.

The Amended Regulations can be found here: https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/CODOPS/2019/03/06/file_attachments/1168134/AmusementRegulationsRedline2019.pdf

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT

Division of Oil and Public Safety

AMUSEMENT RIDES AND DEVICES REGULATIONS

7 CCR 1101-12

ARTICLE 1 GENERAL PROVISIONS

Section 1-1 Basis and Purpose

This regulation is promulgated to establish reasonable standards for the construction, inspection, operation, repair and maintenance of amusement rides and devices located in Colorado in the interest and safety of the general public, to establish financial standards for the operation of amusement rides and devices in a public setting and to provide for a registration process for amusement rides and devices.

Section 1-2 Statutory Authority

The amendments to these regulations are created pursuant to C.R.S. § 8-20-1001 through 8-20-1004 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.). All prior rules for amusement rides and devices are hereby repealed.

Section 1-3 Effective Date

This regulation shall be effective June 15, 2019 July 30, 2015. The operators of previously unregistered amusement rides and devices shall have up to three months from the effective date of these regulations to comply with Section 2-3-1 (A) (6).

Section 1-4 Scope

These rules and regulations shall apply to the construction, inspection, operation, repair and maintenance of amusement rides and devices located in Colorado by any individual, corporation, company, firm, partnership, association, or state or local government agency.

These rules and regulations shall not apply to:

(A) Coin operated model horse and model rocket rides, mechanical horse or bull rides, and other coin activated or self-operated devices.

(B) Non-mechanized playground equipment including but not limited to swings, seesaws, stationary spring mounted animal features, rider propelled merry-go-rounds, climbers, slides, swinging gates and physical fitness devices.

(C) Live animal rides or live animal shows.

(D) Climbing walls used for sport and fitness training, located in educational facilities, schools, gymnasiums, sport and public entity recreational facilities, or other facilities solely devoted to sport and recreational activities, training and instruction.

(E) Institutional trampolines used solely for sport and fitness training, located in educational facilities, schools, gymnasiums, sport and public entity recreational facilities or other facilities solely devoted to sport and recreational activities, training and instruction. All training must be conducted by a certified gymnastics or trampoline coach. The facility and coach must carry certifications from a nationally recognized gymnastics or trampoline governing association.

(F) Race-karts owned and operated by individuals who compete against each other, or rental race-karts available for rent at competitive sport race-kart tracks solely used for sanctioned racing where drivers have attended and passed a practical driver safety training test to establish their competency, or hold an applicable valid competition license certification from a recognized motor sport sanctioning body.

(G) Skating rides, arcades, laser paintball games, bowling alleys, miniature golf courses, inflatable devices, ball crawls, exercise equipment, jet skis, paddle boats, air boats, hot air balloons whether tethered or untethered, batting cages, games and side shows.

(H) Any amusement ride or device operated at a private event that is not open to the general public and not subject to a separate admission charge or any amusement ride or device owned and operated by a non-profit organization who meets all the requirements in Sections 2-1 and 2-2 of these regulations and operates their rides less than 8 days in any calendar year.

(I) Any amusement ride or device operator who notifies the Division in writing that his or her ride or device is inspected and licensed certified or issued a permit by one of the following agencies where said agency inspects and issues a license or permit for the ride or device shall be exempt from the requirements of this subsection these regulations, provided that the ride or device requirements of said agency meets or exceeds the requirements of standards adopted in this regulation.

(1) Any municipality or local government within the state of Colorado

(2) Another state agency within the state of Colorado

(3) Any federal government agency

(J) Any local government that has received a temporary or permanent waiver from the Division pursuant to Executive Order D 2011-005. To obtain a waiver the affected local government must demonstrate that the requirements in these regulations conflict with other statutes or regulations (including those of local governments) or are unduly burdensome. A cost benefit analysis or other supporting documentation should be included with the waiver request.

(K) Water slides less than 18 feet in elevation change from point of dispatch to the end of the slide.

Section 1-5 Codes and Standards

(A) The following codes of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F24 Committee on Amusement Rides and Devices, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) are incorporated by reference.

(BA) All amusement rides and devices shall comply with the following these standards, including, but not limited to the following unless specifically exempted in these regulations. If there is no applicable standard for an amusement ride or device, operators shall comply with the manufacturer’s recommendations. When adopted standards and manufacturer recommendations differ, the more stringent requirement shall apply. Devices must comply with adopted standards that were effective at the time of manufacture, as applicable.

(1) ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959

(ia) Standard Terminology Relating to Amusement Rides and Devices: F747-06-15

(iib) Standard Practice for Ownership and, Operation, Maintenance and Inspection of Amusement Rides and Devices Designation: F 770-1418

(iii) Standard Practice for Design and Manufacture of Patron Directed, Artificial Climbing Walls, Dry Slide, Coin Operated and Purposeful Water Immersion Amusement Rides and Devices and Air Supported Structures Designation: F 1159-11

(c) Standard Practice for Design and Manufacturing of Amusement Rides and Devices that are Outside the Purview of Other F24 Design Standards: F1159-16

(ivd) Standard Practice for Quality, Manufacture, and Construction of Amusement Rides and Devices Designation: F1193-1418

(e) Standard Test Method for Composite Foam Hardness-Durometer Hardness: F1957-17

(vf) Standard Practice for Design, Manufacture, and Operation of Concession Go-Karts and Facilities Designation: F2007-12

(vig) Standard Practice for Measuring the Dynamic Characteristics of Amusement Rides and Devices Designation: F 2137-1316

(viih) Standard Practice for Design of Amusement Rides and Devices Designation: F 2291-1418

(viii) Standard Practice for Design, Manufacture, Installation and Testing of Climbing Nets and Netting/Mesh used in Amusement Rides, Devices, Play Areas and Attractions: F2375-0917

(ixj) Standard Practice for Classification, Design, Manufacture, Construction, and Operation of Water Slide Systems Designation: F 2376-1317a

(xk) Standard Practice for Special Requirements for Bumper Boats Designation: F 2460-11

(xil) Standard Practice for Special Requirements for Aerial Adventure Courses Designation: F 2959-1418

(xiim) Standard Practice for Permanent Amusement Railway Ride Tracks and Related Devices: F2960-1416

(xiiin) Standard Practice for Design, Manufacture, Installation, Operation, Maintenance, Inspection and Major Modification of Trampoline Courts: F2970-1517

(xivo) Standard Practice Guide for Auditing Amusement Rides and Devices: F2974-1318

(p) Standard Practice for Operations of Amusement Railway Rides, Devices, and Facilities: F3054-18

(q) Standard Practice for Classification, Design, Manufacturing, Construction, Maintenance, and Operation of Stationary Wave Systems: F3133-16

(r) Standard Practice for Patron Transportation Conveyors Used with a Water-Related Amusement Ride or Device: F3158-16

(s) Standard Practice for Characterization of Fire Properties of Materials Specified for Vehicles Associated with Amusement Rides and Devices: F3214-18

(2) National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), One Battery march Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471

(ia) National Electrical Code 2014 Designation: NFPA 70

(3) Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), PO Box 4719797, Deerfield Boulder, IL CO 6001580308

(ia) Challenge Course and Canopy/Zip Line Tour Standards, ANSI/ACCT 03-2016Eighth Edition

(CB) Interested parties may inspect the referenced incorporated materials by contacting the Program Manager, Amusement Rides and Devices, 633 17th Street, Suite 500, Denver, CO 80202.

(DC) This rule does not include later amendments to or editions of the incorporated material.

(D) A device is not required to meet the current edition of the specific standard if it has a service proven design according to the ASTM F2291-18 and this design is approved by the Division.

(E) The Division may grant the use of alternate methods and procedures on a case-specific basis for requirements of the adopted codes or standards listed in this section.

(1) The Division shall require justification of the alternative method or procedure.

(2) The alternate methods and procedures request shall be submitted on a form provided by the Division.

(3) A submitted alternate methods and procedures request shall not relieve an operator from complying with the applicable standards adopted in these regulations unless the Division expressly approves the request.

(4) The Division may deny any request at its discretion.

(F) If the existing amusement ride or device has had a major modification since the last periodic or annual inspection, the post-modification inspection of that ride or device shall be conducted in compliance with ASTM F 2974-18 Section 9 or ANSI/ACCT 03-2016 Chapter 1 Section B for Challenge courses and canopy/zip line tours.

(G) All amusement rides and devices must conform to the current requirements of “Standard Practice for Ownership and Operation of Amusement Rides and Devices” Designation F770-18 or ANSI/ACCT 03-2016 Chapter 2 (as applicable by ride type), regardless of date of manufacture or installation.

(H) Amusement rides and devices of site-specific or prototype construction shall be constructed, maintained and repaired as certified by a Professional Engineer. These certifications must be available for review by the Division.

(I) Bungee Jumping

(1) A system review (structures, cords, harnesses, attachment components, etc.) that includes evaluation and inspection by a Colorado registered Professional Engineer, with his/her certification/stamp that the system design is adequate for the intended application, shall be provided to the Public Safety Section Division.

(2) Where the facility incorporates a crane structure for hoisting customers and/or staff members, the mechanism must conform to national standards. These standards include both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Standards (OSHA) – 1926.1501 – July 1, 2011, excluding the subsequent addenda incorporated by the code forward, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B30.5 – 2014. Documentation of this conformity shall be provided to the Division.

(3) Where the facility incorporates a hot air balloon for elevation purposes, copies of the current, valid Standard Airworthiness Certificate and Special Airworthiness Certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and records showing that all maintenance and alterations have been performed in accordance with Parts 21, 43, and 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations excluding the subsequent addenda, shall be provided to the Division.

Section 1-6 Definitions

The following words when used in these rules and regulations shall mean:

AERIAL ADVENTURE COURSE: A patron participatory facility or facilities consisting of one or more elevated walkways, platforms, zip lines, nets, ropes, or other elements that require the use of fall hazard Personal Safety Equipment (PSE). Typically noted as ropes courses, free fall devices and zip lines in the regulation.

AIMS: Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers International

AMUSEMENT RIDE OR DEVICE: Any mechanized device or combination of devices which carry or convey persons along, around or over a fixed or restricted course for the purpose of giving its passengers amusement, pleasure, thrills, excitement or the opportunity to experience the natural environment.

Amusement rides and devices include but are not limited to, an aggregation of amusement rides and devices in an amusement setting such as amusement parks, carnivals, fairs and festivals. Amusement rides and devices also include but are not limited to, bungee jumping, bungee trampolines, trampolines, climbing walls in amusement settings, concession go-karts, bumper boats devices, gravity-propelled rides and devices, water slides, trackless trains, simulators, stationary wave systems, and traditional amusement rides.

AMUSEMENT RIDE, CLASS A: An amusement ride designed primarily for use by children 12 years of age or younger, typically referred to as a “kiddie ride.”

AMUSEMENT RIDE, CLASS B: Any amusement ride not defined as a Class A amusement ride.

BRAKE, EMERGENCY: A brake located on a zip line that is engaged upon failure of the primary brake, with no input from the zip line participant, in order to prevent serious injury or death resulting from primary brake failure.

BRAKE SYSTEM: An arrangement of primary and emergency brakes that are designed to function together.

BUMPER BOATSDEVICES: Boats Devices that are used to bump into each other intentionally as directed by drivers as a form of entertainment.

BUNGEE TRAMPOLINES: A type of trampoline where the patron is assisted by a harness attached to bungee cords.

CERTIFICATE OF INSPECTION: The documentation of the annual amusement ride inspection conducted by an qualified Third-Party inspector. Certificates of Inspection are valid for 12 months from the date of inspection.

CIRSA: Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency

CLIMBING WALL: An artificially constructed wall with holds for hands and feet used for climbing. Regulated climbing walls include climbing walls located in amusement settings and fixed or portable climbing walls for use by the general public as amusement devices and not for sport or fitness training.

CONCESSION GO-KARTS: A single vehicle which is powered without connection to a common energy source, which is drivercontrolled with respect to acceleration, speed, braking and steering, which operates within the containment system of a defined track, which simulates competitive motor sports, and which is used by the general public. Concession go-karts typically operate at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

DIVISION: The Director of the Division of Oil and Public Safety of the Department of Labor and Employment, or any designees thereof which may include certain employees of the Division of Oil and Public Safety or other persons.

FREE FALL DEVICE: A component of an aerial adventure course used to control a patron’s intentional decent from an elevated structure and engineered to allow the patron to experience a rapid initial descent while ensuring a comfortable and controlled landing.

IATP: International Association of Trampoline Parks

INFORMATION PLATE: A manufacturer-issued information plate, printed in English, which is permanently affixed to a ride or device in a visible location, and is designed to remain legible for the expected life of a ride or device. The plate shall include, but not be restricted to, the following applicable items:

Ride Serial Number – A manufacturer-issued unique identifying number or code affixed to the ride in a permanent fashion.

Ride Name and Manufacturer – A manufacturer-issued unique identifying ride name, including the name of the manufacturer by city, state, and country.

Ride Model Number – A manufacturer-issued unique identifying number or code assigned to each manufactured type of ride having the same structural design or components.

Date of Manufacture – The date (month and year) determined by the manufacturer that the given ride or device met his required construction specifications.

Ride Speed – Maximum and minimum revolutions per minute, feet per second, or miles per hour, as applicable.

Direction of Travel – When the proper direction of travel is essential to the design operation of the ride, the manufacturer shall designate the direction of travel, including reference point for this designation.

Passenger Capacity by Weight – Maximum total passenger weight per passenger position.

Passenger Capacity by Number – Maximum total number of adult or child passengers per passenger position and per ride.

INJURY: Means an injury that results in death or requires immediate medical treatment administered by a physician or by registered professional personnel under the standing orders of a physician. Medical treatment does not include first aid treatment or one-time treatment and subsequent observation of minor scratches, cuts, burns, splinters, or other minor injuries that do not ordinarily require medical care even though treatment is provided by a physician or by registered professional personnel.

INJURY, REPORTABLE: Any injury (as defined) caused by a malfunction or failure of an amusement ride or device, or any injury (as defined) caused by a ride operator or patron error.

INSPECTION: A procedure to be conducted by an third-party inspector or Division employee to determine whether an amusement ride or device is being constructed, assembled, maintained, tested, operated, and inspected in accordance with the standards adopted by these regulations and the manufacturer’s recommendations, as applicable, and that determines the current operational safety of the ride or device. All inspections shall be documented by a written inspection report to be filed with the operator.

INSPECTOR: A third party qualified by training, such as attainment of Level II certification from the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO), attainment of Level II certification from the Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers International (AIMS), attainment of a Qualified Inspector certification from the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture – General Qualified Inspector status or other similar qualification from another nationally recognized organization; or education, such as registration as a Professional Engineer; or experience evaluated and approved in advance, A third-party certified by the Division, to conduct inspections of amusement rides or devices in accordance with the standards adopted by these regulations and the manufacturer’s recommendations and criteria.

MAJOR MODIFICATION: Any change in either the structural or operational characteristics of the ride or device which will alter its performance from that specified in the manufacturer’s design criteria.

NAARSO: National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials.

OPERATOR: A person or the agent of a person, corporation or company. An individual, corporation, or company or agent thereof who owns, controls or has the duty to control the operation of an amusement ride or device.

PERMIT YEAR: The time during which an operator is registered that begins on the registration effective date and ends 12 months from the effective date. These dates appear on the signed permit that an operator receives once the registration application has been approved.

QUALIFIED PERSON: An individual who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing; or who, by possession of extensive knowledge, training, and/or experience in the subject field; has successfully demonstrated ability in design, analysis, evaluation, installation, inspection, specification, testing, or training in the subject work, project, or product, in accordance with the standards adopted by these regulations.

RACE-KARTS: A go-kart designed for competitive sport racing use in either sanctioned racing on tracks or other areas of competition, or in a racing school facility, and not to be used by the general public in an amusement facility. Race-kart drivers must wear approved safety equipment, consisting of a minimum of a Snell or DOT approved helmet and closed-toed shoes. Race-karts regularly reach maximum speeds in excess of 25 miles per hour.

REGISTRATION: The filing of a properly completed application with the Division and approval of the application by the Division.

REPORTABLE INJURY: Any injury (as defined) caused by a malfunction or failure of an amusement ride or device, or any injury (as defined) caused by a ride operator or patron error which impairs the function of an amusement ride or device.

RIDE OPERATOR: The person that has control of the amusement ride or device at all times or is supervising a patron-directed device when it is being operated for the public’s use. This person must be trained in accordance with the standards adopted by these regulations and in accordance with an operator training program or specifications provided by the amusement ride or device designer, engineer or manufacturer.

SERVICE PROVEN: As defined in ASTM F2291-18, “an amusement ride, device, or major modification to an amusement ride or device of which units(s) have been in service to the public for a minimum of five years and unit(s) that have been in service have done so without any significant design related failures or significant design related safety issues that have not been mitigated.”

SIMULATOR: Any amusement ride that is a self-contained unit that uses a motion picture simulation, along with a mechanical movement which requires the use of manufacturer-provided restraints, to simulate activities that provide amusement or excitement for the patron.

SUBSIDIARY RELATIONSHIP: An independent company that is controlled by another company, usually referred to as the parent or holding company.

TRACKLESS TRAIN: An articulated vehicle used for the transport of passengers, comprising of a driving vehicle pulling one or more carriages connected by drawbar couplings. Also known as barrel trains.

TRAMPOLINE, INSTITUTIONAL: A trampoline intended for use in a commercial or institutional facility.

TRAMPOLINE COURT OR TC: A defined area comprising one or more institutional trampolines or a series of institutional trampolines.

TRAMPOLINE COURT FOAM PIT OR TC FOAM PIT: A combination style dismount pit designed with a rebound device, covered with loose impact absorbing blocks.

WATER SLIDES: Rides intended for use by riders in bathing attire where the action of the ride involves possible and purposeful immersion of the rider’s body either in whole or in part in water, and uses circulating water to mobilize or lubricate the rider’s transportation along a purpose built path.

ZIP LINE: A concession, commercial amusement device where participants attached to a pulley traverse by gravity from one point to another by use of a cable or rope line suspended between support structures.

ZIP LINE TOUR OR ZIP LINE COURSE: A guided aerial exploration or transit of a landscape by means of a series of zip lines and platforms generally supported by man-made structures.

ARTICLE 2 GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

Amusement rides and devices may not open to the public within the State of Colorado unless the operator has registered with the Division, received a permit from the Division and has satisfied and is continuing to satisfy the requirements as provided herein.

Section 2-1 Financial Standards

(A) Any person who operates an amusement ride must have currently in force an insurance policy written by an insurance company authorized to do business in this state or by a surplus lines insurer, in an amount of not less than $100,000 per occurrence with a $300,000 annual aggregate for Class A amusement rides and devices and an amount of not less than $1 million per occurrence for Class B amusement rides and devices insuring the owner or operator against liability for injury to persons arising out of the use of the amusement ride.

(B) For governmental entities, insurance or self-insurance in accordance with § 24-10-115 C.R.S. of The Governmental Immunity Act, or participation in a public entity self-insurance pool pursuant to § 24-10-115.5 C.R.S. of The Governmental Immunity Act shall be deemed to meet the financial standards of this section.

Section 2-2 Technical Standards Access to Records and Devices

Amusement rides shall be constructed, maintained, operated and repaired subject to the following standards:

2-2-1 General

(A) Amusement rides or devices or any part thereof shall be constructed, maintained, operated and repaired in accordance with the standards adopted by these regulations and the manufacturer’s recommendations, as applicable, in order to provide for an operation free from recognized safety hazards.

(B) Amusement rides and devices shall be constructed, maintained, operated and repaired in accordance with all otherwise applicable federal, state and local safety, fire, health or building codes or standards.

(C) Amusement rides and devices of site-specific or prototype construction shall be constructed, maintained and repaired as certified by a Professional Engineer. These certifications must be available for review by the Division.

2-2-2 Bungee Jumping

(A) A system review (structures, cords, harnesses, attachment components, etc.) that includes evaluation and inspection by a Colorado registered Professional Engineer, with his/her certification/stamp that the system design is adequate for the intended application, shall be provided to the Public Safety Section.

(B) All elements of the ASTM – Standards on Amusement Rides and Devices (2014 Edition), excluding the subsequent addenda incorporated by the code forward, are to be conformed to as a minimum standard. Documentation of this conformity shall be provided to the Division.

(C) Where the facility incorporates a crane structure for hoisting customers and/or staff members, the mechanism must conform to national standards. These standards include both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Standards (OSHA) – 1926.1501 – July 1, 2011, excluding the subsequent addenda incorporated by the code forward, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B30.5 – 2011. Documentation of this conformity shall be provided to the Division.

(D) Where the facility incorporates a hot air balloon for elevation purposes, copies of the current, valid Standard Airworthiness Certificate and Special Airworthiness Certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and records showing that all maintenance and alterations have been performed in accordance with Parts 21, 43, and 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations excluding the subsequent addenda, shall be provided to the Division.

2-2-1 Access

(A) Division representative may enter during normal business hours, without advance notice, the premises where amusement rides and devices are located, including places of storage or use, for the purpose of device inspections and/or examining any records or documents required under these regulations.

2-2-2 Records Requirements

(A) Every amusement ride or device operator shall maintain detailed records relating to the construction, repair and maintenance of its operation, including safety, inspection, maintenance records and ride operator training activities.

(B) Records shall be made available to the Division at reasonable times, including during an inspection upon the Division’s request.

(C) Records of daily inspections must be available for inspection at the location where the ride or device is operated.

(D) All records must be maintained for a period of three years, unless otherwise specified in this regulation.

Section 2-3 Registration

No person shall open to the public and operate any amusement ride or device on property owned or leased by such person until the operator of the amusement ride or device has first registered and obtained a permit for operation from the Division.

2-3-1 Application Submission and Processing

(A) The Amusement Rides and Devices application shall be submitted annually on the form prescribed by the Division and shall include the following registration requirements.

(1) The name and address of the operator.

(2) The trade name of the manufacturer, and the serial number of all rides and devices.

(3) A report of any injury occurring in any state that meets the definition of a reportable injury as defined in this regulation.

(4) A list of the dates and locations of operation of the amusement rides or devices within the state for the upcoming permit year, including the dates at each location. This list may be

updated throughout the permit year, provided that notification is received by the Division prior to operation.

(5) The name of all liability insurance carriers and the insurance policy numbers.

(6) An original amusement ride Certificate of Inspection for each amusement ride or device showing the name, serial number, manufacturer of the ride, the inspector’s name, the owner/operator name and other information as required by 2-4 of these rules.

(7) Any other information reasonably related to the standards set forth in Article 2.

(8) A certificate of liability insurance for the registration period in an amount of not less than $100,000 per occurrence with a $300,000 annual aggregate for Class A amusement rides and devices and an amount of not less than $1 million per occurrence for Class B amusement rides and devices insuring the owner or operator against liability for injury to persons arising out of the use of the amusement ride or device. For governmental entities, insurance or self-insurance in accordance with § 24-10-115 C.R.S. of The Governmental Immunity Act, or participation in a public entity self-insurance pool pursuant to § 24-10-115.5 C.R.S. of The Governmental Immunity Act shall be deemed to meet the financial standards of this section.

(B) Upon receipt of an application, the Division shall review the application, and upon determining that the provisions of these rules have been met, shall approve the application, register the amusement rides or devices and issue a permit to operate.

(C) The submittal of a registration application does not guarantee the registration of any amusement ride or device. The owner/operator must obtain a permit from the Division prior to opening any ride or device to the public.

2-3-2 Application Fees Table 2-3-2 Annual Registration Fees
Fee Category Registration Fee Per Amusement Ride or Device Operator +

(and)

Registration Fee Per Amusement Ride or Device
Fee Amount $500 +

(and)

$130

2-3-3 Incomplete Applications

(A) Upon receipt of an incomplete application or an application requiring additional information, the applicant will be notified of the deficiency or additional requirements.

(B) If the deficiency is not corrected or if the Division does not receive the additional information within 180 days following the date of notification, the application shall be considered abandoned and the Division shall not retain the application.

2-3-4 Aerial Adventure Courses

(A) Each aerial adventure course is generally considered to be one ride or device based on the information plate.

(B) If an information plate is not provided, and the owner/operator registers multiple aerial adventure courses as one device, the following will apply:

(1) All aerial adventure courses registered as one device shall be inspected and listed on the Certificate of Inspection as one device by the Third-Party inspector.

(2) When any one aerial adventure course registered in the device is shut down or inoperative, all other aerial adventure courses included in the device must also be shut down.

(C) It is the responsibility of the aerial adventure course owner/operator to correctly register each device being operated.

2-3-5 Trampoline Courts

(A) Each trampoline court is generally considered to be one ride or device based on the information plate.

2-3-6 Zip Lines

(A) Each zip line is generally considered to be one ride or device based on the information plate.

(B) If an information plate is not provided and the owner/operator registers multiple zip lines as one device, the following will apply:

(1) All zip lines registered as one device shall be inspected and listed on the Certificate of Inspection as one device by the Third-Party inspector.

(2) When any one zip line registered in the device is shut down or inoperative, all other zip lines included in the device must also be shut down.

(C) It is the responsibility of the zip line owner/operator to correctly register each device being operated.

Section 2-4 Inspections

2-4-1 Annual Inspections

(A) An annual inspection by an Third-Party inspector must be conducted on each amusement ride or device.

(1) Each amusement ride or device must have a current Certificate of Inspection prior to opening to the public.

(12) The inspection shall be conducted with the amusement ride or device in an operable state prior to opening to the public and include an evaluation of the ride or device for a minimum of one complete operating cycle, where applicable.

(23) The inspection shall also include a review of the operator’s daily inspection records, inspection and maintenance program records and training records in accordance with the standards adopted by these regulations and the manufacturer’s recommendations, as applicable.

(B) Any amusement ride or device open to the public in the state of Colorado must have a valid Certificate of Inspection on file with the Division.

(1) Each item number on the Certificate of Inspection is considered to represent one ride or device.

(2) The ride owner/operator shall be responsible for submitting a completed and signed Certificate of Inspection to the Division for all rides or devices being opened to the public.

(3) A grace period of 30 days immediately following the expiration date of a Certificate of Inspection shall exist and that Certificate of Inspection shall continue to be valid during that time period.

(4) An inspection report for each amusement ride or device shall be made available to the Division at reasonable times, including during an inspection, upon the Division’s request.

(C) The inspection certificate shall not be submitted to the Division until all discrepancies have been resolved and all necessary repair(s) or replacement(s) required in accordance with the standards of Section 2-2 have been made.

(1) Resolution of discrepancies, repairs and replacements may be documented in writing by the owner/operator and delivered to the inspector.

(2) The inspector may corroborate such letter by review thereof, subsequent re-inspection, receipt of additional documentation or by other means which the inspector deems appropriate.

(3) Corroborated discrepancies, repairs and replacements shall not require further inspection and such resolution shall be deemed to be in accordance with the standards of Section 2-2.

(D) No person shall open to the public an amusement ride or device that has been inspected by an qualified inspector or by the Division according to Section 2-2 of these regulations and found to be unsafe unless:

(1) All necessary repairs and modifications to the ride have been completed and certified as completed by an qualified inspector and

(2) A valid Certificate of Inspection is on file with the Division.

2-4-2 Daily Inspections

(A) In addition to the annual inspection required under this section, the owner/operator who operates an amusement ride or device must perform and record daily inspections of each amusement ride or device.

(B) Records of the daily inspections must be available for inspection at the location where the amusement ride or device is operated, and the records must be maintained with the amusement ride or device for a period of three years.

(C) The daily inspection records must include an inspection of equipment identified for daily inspection in accordance with the applicable codes and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

2-4-3 New Installation and Major Modification Inspections

(A) New ride installations and following major modifications of existing rides, a signed certificate of inspection shall be submitted to the Division before the ride is opened to the public.

(B) The operator shall make available to the Division a written statement, completed by a qualified person or agent thereof, stating that the ride meets the applicable design requirements set forth in Section 1-5 of these regulations. The qualified person or agent thereof shall identify under which standards the ride was evaluated.

(C) Additionally, the operator shall make available to the Division for any new installation or structural change, the following:

(1) An as built document.

(2) A copy of the certificate of occupancy issued by the local building authority, if the local building authority has such a requirement. This requirement may be fulfilled within 90 days following the issuance of the Registration Permit from the Division.

(D) For sub-sections (B) and (C) these documents shall be maintained for the life of the ride or device.

Section 2-5 Ride Operations

2-5-1 General

(A) All operator personnel shall be trained in accordance with these regulations, adopted codes and standards, and any applicable recommendations provided by the amusement ride or device manufacturer.

(AB) Amusement ride and device owners/operators are required to operate each ride or device in accordance with these regulations, adopted codes and any applicable all manufacturers’ recommendations as applicable.

(BC) Consideration shall be given to environmental factors, including humidity, precipitation, temperature and wind effects on patron safety, where applicable.

(CD) Operators shall have a reasonable written plan in place for the management of emergencies, including, but not limited to the following, where applicable:

(1) Prevention strategies;

(2) Emergency preparedness;

(3) Administrative response to emergencies;

(4) Field response to medical emergencies;

(5) Field response to incidents/accidents and fatalities;

(6) Technical rescues;

(7) Activating the emergency medical system;

(8) Evacuations; and

(9) Addressing severe weather.

2-5-2 Zip Lines Aerial Adventure Courses

(A) Operators of aerial adventure courses shall follow the general requirements listed below:

(1) Verify any connection between the patron and the device are properly made.

(2) Document these requirements in the operator’s manual.

(AB) Additionally, For zip line operations, the operator shall:

(1) Have a full understanding of and proficiency in the setup, operation and ongoing monitoring requirements of the braking system in effect when operating zip lines.

(2) Ensure that the departure of patrons from dispatch zones is performed in a controlled manner and only when the zip line is clear of other persons.

(3) Ensure that the deceleration and arrest of patrons arriving at landing zones is performed in a controlled manner.

(4) Ensure that padding used as a protective element in the landing area is not used as a brake component.

(C) Additionally, for free fall device operations, the operator shall:

(1) Utilize a secondary attachment approved by the manufacturer.

ARTICLE 3 RECORDS

Section 3-1 Records Requirements

(A) Every amusement ride or device operator shall maintain detailed records relating to the construction, repair and maintenance of its operation, including safety, inspection, maintenance records and ride operator training activities.

(B) Records shall be made available to the Division at reasonable times, including during an inspection upon the Division’s request.

(C) Records of daily inspections must be available for inspection at the location where the ride or device is operated.

(D) All records must be maintained for a period of three years.

ARTICLE 3 INSPECTOR CERTIFICATION

Section 3-1 General Requirements

(A) This section describes the requirements for the annual Inspector Certification.

(B) The Division may request documentation in addition to that described in the following sections to verify the accuracy of information provided with a Certification application.

(C) The inspector shall not be affiliated by employment or by a subsidiary relationship to the owner/operator or the manufacturer of the amusement ride or device.

(D) To qualify as a professional engineer, applicants must provide a professional engineering license and proof of at least 12 months of experience working in the amusement industry.

Section 32 Certification Types

(A) The Division may certify an applicant if the applicant has satisfied Certification requirements listed in Sections 3-1 through 3-3. The Inspector Certification will indicate the type of rides and devices for which the Certification is allowed to inspect per these regulations. The types of rides and devices inspection endorsements are as follows.

(1) Type 1: Traditional Amusement Rides and Devices, that are typically found at carnivals and amusement parks which would include but not be limited to roller coasters, Ferris wheels and bumper cars, and that are not of the types listed in (A)(2) through (3) of this section.

(2) Type 2: Aerial Adventure Courses (Free Fall Devices, Ropes Courses and Zip Lines).

(3) Type 3: Indoor Trampoline Parks.

(4) Type 4: Water Slides.

(5) Type 5: Special devices. Any specialty devices not listed above (i.e., trackless trains).

(B) A person applying for an Inspector Certification shall submit to the Division a completed Inspector Certification application using the form that is provided on the Division’s website.

Section 3-3 Certification Qualifications

(A) Qualifications for licensing are as follows:

(1) Type 1 Inspector Certification qualification shall consist of certification through one of the following:

(a) NAARSO Level 2; or

(b) AIMS Maintenance or Inspector Level 2; or

(c) The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture – General Qualified Inspector; or

(d) Qualify as a professional engineer per Section 3-1 (D); or

(e) Another nationally recognized organization approved by the Division; or

(f) Experience evaluated and approved by the Division

(2) Type 2 Inspector Certification qualification shall consist of certification through one of the following:

(a) NAARSO Level 2; or

(b) AIMS Maintenance or Inspector Level 2; or

(c) ACCT Level 2 Professional Inspector; or

(d) Qualify as a professional engineer per Section 3-1 (D); or

(e) Another nationally recognized organization approved by the Division; or

(f) Experience evaluated and approved by the Division

(3) Type 3 Inspector Certification qualification shall consist of certification through one of the following:

(a) NAARSO Level 2; or

(b) AIMS Maintenance or Inspector Level 2; or

(c) IATP Service Technician Level 2; or

(d) Qualify as a professional engineer per Section 3-1 (D); or

(e) Another nationally recognized organization approved by the Division; or

(f) Experience evaluated and approved by the Division

(4) Type 4 Inspector Certification qualification shall consist of certification through one of the following:

(a) Those listed in Section 4-2 (A)(1) (Type 1); or

(b) CIRSA certification

(c) AIMS Aquatics Operations Level I

(5) Type 5 Inspector Certification qualification shall consist of certification that complies with (A)(1) of this section.

(B) The Division reserves the right to review an applicant or inspector’s experience and certification status at any time to ensure that the applicant or inspector:

(1) Demonstrates sufficient general knowledge of amusement rides to effectively inspect, evaluate, and identify issues with rides that could or will have an impact on public safety;

(2) Is fully versed in and able to apply Colorado-specific rules and regulations, and

(3) Is able to communicate that information to the amusement ride owners/operators for whom the inspection is being carried out.

Section 3-4 Inspector Certification and Renewal

(A) Inspector Certifications will expire annually on April 15.

(B) The Inspector Certification issued by the Division shall be valid for up to one year. The Division may issue or renew an Inspector Certification, provided the applicant submits the following:

(1) A completed inspector certification application form.

(2) Documentation that the applicant is currently certified as listed in Section 3-2 (A) of this section.

Section 3-5 Revocation, Suspension, or Denial of Inspector Certification

(A) A certification may be denied, suspended, or revoked by the Division because of, but not limited to the following:

(1) Failure to show sufficient proof of required credentials or experience with amusement ride or device inspections;

(2) Non-compliance with an order issued by the Division within the time specified in such order;

(3) Failure to comply with these regulations;

(4) Giving false information or a misrepresentation to the Division in order to obtain or maintain a certification;

(5) Making a false affidavit or statement under oath to the Division in an application or report; or

(6) Other factors which, at the discretion of the Division, indicate an unfitness to hold an inspector certification in compliance with these regulations.

(B) The Division shall deny, suspend, or revoke an inspector certification according to the process described in Article 6 of these regulations.

(C) Upon notice of the revocation or suspension of any permit, the former inspector shall immediately surrender to the Division the certification and all copies thereof.

(D) Any person whose certification has been denied or suspended under Section 3-5 may apply to the Division for a hearing in order to seek relief.

(1) The hearing shall be conducted by the Division or an Administrative Law Judge with the Division of Administrative Hearings on behalf of the Division in accordance with the procedures of 24-4-105 C.R.S.

(2) The Division may grant the relief requested in the hearing if the Division determines that the circumstances regarding the denial, suspension, or revocation, and the applicant’s record and reputation are such that the granting of such relief is not contrary to public safety.

(E) Any person aggrieved by a decision or order of the Division may seek judicial review pursuant to the provisions of 24-4-106 C.R.S.

(F) The period of denial, suspension, or revocation shall be within the sound discretion of the Division.

(G) Any person who has been denied a certification may not reapply to the Division for a certification within one year of the decision, unless exception is made by the Division and the applicant establishes a substantial change in circumstances to indicate fitness to hold an inspector certification in accordance with the requirements of these regulations.

(H) In case of revocation or suspension of an inspector certification, the Division shall notify all certifying associations that have issued said inspector any certifications used for the approval by the Division of such revocation or suspension.

ARTICLE 4 INJURY REPORTING

Section 4-1 Reportable Injury

(A) State of Colorado regulations require that amusement ride and device operators notify the Division of any reportable injury.

(B) A reportable injury is any injury (as defined) caused by a malfunction or failure of an amusement ride or device, or any injury (as defined) caused by an operator or patron error which impairs the function of an amusement ride or device.

(C) A reportable injury as defined must be reported to the Division by:

(1) Calling calling 303-514-3281 or 303-809-9354 within 24 hours of the time that the ride operator or operator becomes aware of the injury; and

(2) Submitting an injury report to the Division within 72 hours of the time that the ride operator or operator becomes aware of the injury

(D) Complete injury reports should be emailed to cdle_amusements@state.co.us or faxed to 303-318-8488.Injury reports shall be maintained and made available to the Division for investigation. Copies must be submitted upon request from the Division.

Section 4-2 Reportable Injury Scene Preservation

If a reportable injury occurs, the equipment or conditions that caused the accident shall be preserved for the purpose of an investigation by the Division unless an investigation is deemed unnecessary by the Division.

ARTICLE 5 PATRON RESPONSIBILITY

Patrons are required to follow any written or verbal instructions that are given to them regarding the use of amusement rides and devices.

ARTICLE 6 ENFORCEMENT

Section 6-1 Enforcement Program

The Division provides these regulations to assist operators and inspectors with safe and proper operation of amusement rides and devices. The Division may inspect the premises and operation of the amusement ride or device to insure that the financial and safety standards in this regulation have been met. When an amusement ride or device is found to be out of compliance with these regulations, the Division will pursue enforcement actions against the operator or inspector who is in violation of these regulations and/or statutes (8-20 C.R.S.).

The enforcement process will include requiring the operator or inspector to make repairs and/or upgrades, perform system tests, provide records and complete other actions to bring the amusement ride or device back into compliance. During and following the enforcement process, the Division will continue to assist the operator or inspector to remain in compliance. The enforcement process may include monetary penalties of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) per violation per day according to statute (CRS §8-20-104 C.R.S.) if the enforcement obligations are not implemented according to the required schedule.

6-1-1 Notice of Violation

(A) A notice of violation (NOV) may be issued to an operator or inspector when an amusement ride or device is found to be out of compliance with these regulations and/or statutes (C.R.S. §8-20) or the inspector has failed to comply with these regulations and/or statutes. The notice of violation may include fines and/or an order to cease and desist operation of the specific amusement ride or device until all violations are satisfactorily corrected.

A notice of violation (NOV) may be issued to an inspector when the inspector has failed to comply with these regulations and/or statutes. The notice of violation may include fines and/or a suspension of the inspector’s certification.

(B) Within ten working days after an NOV has been issued, the person issued the NOV may file a written request with the Division for an informal conference regarding the NOV. Upon receipt of the request, the Division shall provide the alleged violator with notice of the date, time and place of the informal conference. During the conference, the alleged violator and Division personnel may present information and arguments regarding the allegations and requirements of the NOV. If the person issued the NOV does not request an informal conference within this time frame, all provisions of the NOV shall become final and not subject to further discussion. If the NOV is not resolved within the prescribed time frame, the Division may then seek judicial enforcement of the NOV, or an enforcement order may be issued.

(C) Within 20 days after the informal conference, the Division shall uphold, modify, or strike the allegations within the NOV in the form of a settlement agreement or an enforcement order.

(D) If the alleged violator fails to timely request an informal conference, the terms of the NOV become a binding enforcement order not subject to further review.

6-1-2 Enforcement Order

(A) An enforcement order may be issued when the violations included within an NOV are not resolved within the prescribed time frame or when the schedule set forth in a settlement agreement is not met. The enforcement order may include increased fines of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) per violation for each day of violation. In addition, the enforcement order may include shut-down of the amusement ride or device.

(B) Within ten working days after an enforcement order has been issued, the operator may file a written request with the Executive Director for an informal conference regarding the enforcement order. If the operator does not request an informal conference within this time frame, all provisions of the enforcement order shall become final and not subject to further discussion. If the enforcement order is not resolved within the prescribed time frame, the Division may then seek judicial enforcement of the enforcement order. An enforcement order may include increased fines of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) per violation for each day of violation. In addition, the enforcement order may include shut-down of the amusement ride or device and/or suspension or revocation of the permit or inspector certification.

(C) An alleged violator may appeal the enforcement order to the Division for a hearing under 24-4-105 C.R.S. The Division shall then issue a final decision which is subject to judicial review under 24-4-106 C.R.S.

6-1-3 Informal Conference

(A) Upon receipt of the request, the Division shall provide the operator with notice of the date, time and place of the informal conference. The Division shall preside at the informal conference, during which the operator and Division personnel may present information and arguments regarding the allegations and requirements of the NOV or the enforcement order.

(B) Within twenty days after the informal conference, the Division shall issue a settlement agreement in which the violations from the NOV and/or enforcement order will be upheld, modified or stricken. The settlement agreement will include a schedule of required activity for resolution of the violations. If the terms and/or schedule in the settlement agreement are not satisfied, an enforcement order will be issued, re-issued or the Division may seek judicial enforcement.

6-1-3 Procedure on Revocation, Suspension, or Denial of Inspector Certification

(A) In any case where the Division denies a permit or the permittee is subject to suspension or revocation for a violation of Section 3-3 of these regulations, the Division shall notify the applicant or permittee in writing by first-class mail of the grounds for denial for the violation. The notice shall state that the applicant or permittee may request a hearing in accordance with 24-4-104 and 24-4-105 C.R.S.

(B) Upon notice of the revocation or suspension of any permit, the former permittee shall immediately surrender to the Division the permit and all copies thereof. In addition, the former permittee must surrender control of all explosive material in his/her possession to the Division or the law enforcement agency designated by the Division, or in the presence of the Division or the law enforcement agency designated by the Division surrender control of all explosive material in his/her possession to a valid Type II permittee until a final determination on the charges is made.

(C) The period of denial, suspension, or revocation shall be within the sound discretion of the Division.

(D) The Division may summarily suspend a permit if the Division has objective and reasonable grounds to believe that the public health, safety, or welfare requires emergency action. In such case, the Division shall notify the permittee in writing by first-class mail of the grounds for summary suspension and shall state that the permittee may request a hearing in accordance with 24-4-105 C.R.S.

Do Something

You have two options:

  1. Roll over and take it.
  2. Get Involved. If you don’t speak up the regulatory bodies will win and that means you are out of business.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2018 Recreation Law (720) 334 8529

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Decision supporting PA ski area when skier skied off the trail supported by the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

The Federal District Court case, Vu v. Ski Liberty Operating Corp., et. al., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49013 and reviewed in Under Pennsylvania law, a collision with other skiers or boarders is an inherent risk of skiing. Skiing off the trail because of the collision is also an inherent risk of skiing was upheld

Citation: Vu v. Ski Liberty Operating Corp., (the decision is so new, not id numbers have been assigned to it yet.

State: Pennsylvania

Plaintiff: Quan Vu and his spouse May Siew

Defendant: Ski Liberty Operating Corp., doing business as Liberty Mountain Resort; Snow Time, Inc.

Plaintiff Claims: negligent for, among other things, failing to keep the slope free from unsafe conditions, warn Vu of the dangerous condition, and erect a fence or boundary marker to prevent skiers from skiing over the edge and into the large rocks below and alleged loss of consortium

Defendant Defenses: No duty under the Pennsylvania Skier’s Responsibility Act (PSRA)

Holding: For the Defendant upholding the lower court decision

Year: 2019

Summary

A lower Federal District Court held that a skier assumed the risk when he skied off the trail and over a 3′-4′ embankment. The skier appealed and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court holding the Pennsylvania Skier Responsibility Act created no duty on the part of the ski area.

Facts

On the evening of January 23, 2015, Vu was skiing down a trail at the Liberty Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. At some point, Vu encountered a snowboarder, who “either cut [him] off or got awfully close” to him. To avoid colliding with the snowboarder, Vu “had a knee-jerk reaction to veer,” which led him toward the edge of the trail. Id. Vu skied over the edge, left the slope, and landed among a pile of rocks. He suffered multiple serious injuries, which he alleges were caused by his skiing over an unmarked, “artificial three to four-foot cliff at the slope’s edge” that was created by “the Defendants’ snowmaking and snow grooming practices.”

Vu’s daughter, who was skiing with him, testified that she did not see Vu ski off of the slope, but she did find him laying off of the trail. She stated that to get to her father, she had to exercise caution due to the height difference between the artificial snow and the natural terrain. She also testified that she had no “difficulty that evening discerning the edge of the trail.”

Dawson Disotelle was also present on the slope and witnessed the incident. He testified that he was snowboarding behind Vu and Vu’s daughter, and he saw that Vu’s “skis went to the left and his body went with [them] and he just went straight off the run.” Thereafter, Disotelle attempted to render assistance to Vu, which required Disotelle to “hop[] down” to where Vu was laying. According to Disotelle, the elevation change from the slope to where Vu landed was “[t]hree or four feet maybe,” and “it wasn’t a challenge to get down there.” Like Vu’s daughter, Disotelle testified that he was able to “easily” distinguish the skiable trail from off trail.

Analysis: making sense of the law based on these facts.

The appellate court simply looked at the Pennsylvania Skiers Responsibility Act (PSRA) and found the ski area had no duty to the Plaintiff Vu.

The PSRA establishes a “no-duty” rule for skiing injuries, relieving ski resorts of the “duty to protect skiers from risks that are ‘common, frequent, and expected,’ and thus ‘inherent’ to the sport.” The no-duty rule applies in this context when: (1) the plaintiff was “engaged in the sport of downhill skiing at the time of her injury”; and (2) the risk of the injury at issue “is one of the ‘inherent risks’ of downhill skiing.” When both prongs are met, summary judgment is warranted in favor of the ski resort “because, as a matter of law, [the plaintiff] cannot recover for her injuries.”

The court did have to look at case law and commented on the fact the Pennsylvania act did not identify risks that were inherent in skiing like most other skier safety acts did. “The PSRA “is unusual in its brevity and failure to give any definition of an ‘inherent’ risk of skiing….”

The court identified several cases that held that “…snow and ice, elevation, contour, speed and weather conditions, and falling from a ski lift…” where inherent to skiing.

Nor does the PRSA require proof that a skier assumed the risk, only that the injury “arose from a “general risk” inherent to the sport….” Consequently, the court found the risk of skiing off the edge of the trail over a three to four feet drop was inherent to skiing.

Not only does this risk appear to fall under the umbrella of elevation or contour (or both), which have been identified by Pennsylvania courts as inherent risks, but also other courts have recognized the more general risk of skiing off a trail as inherent to downhill skiing,

The court then added as support for its finding that what the Plaintiff Vu encountered was an inherent risk but that Vu had been skiing for twenty years and was skiing black diamond runs or the most difficult slopes.

So Now What?

The Pennsylvania Skiers Responsibility Act is the weakest of most of the ski area statutes because it does not define what the inherent risks of skiing are. However, the courts in Pennsylvania have done a fairly good job of determining, based on case law and statutes from other states what are the inherent risks of skiing.

However, because the inherent risks are not defined, the plaintiffs are going to continue to test the issues because there is a chance they can win.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2018 Recreation Law (720) 334 8529

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By Recreation Law    Rec-law@recreation-law.com    James H. Moss

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Vu v. Ski Liberty Operating Corp.,

Vu v. Ski Liberty Operating Corp.,

Quan Vu; May Siew, Appellants

v.

Ski Liberty Operating Corp., doing business as Liberty Mountain Resort; Snow Time, Inc.

No. 18-1769

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

February 12, 2019

NOT PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Pursuant to Third Circuit L.A.R. 34.1(a) January 22, 2019

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 1:16-cv-02170) District Judge: Hon. John E. Jones, III

Before: CHAGARES and BIBAS, Circuit Judges, and SÁNCHEZ, Chief District Judge [+].

OPINION [*]

CHAGARES, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

Appellants Quan Vu and his spouse, May Siew (collectively, “the plaintiffs”), brought this action against the defendants, Ski Liberty Operating Corporation, d/b/a Liberty Mountain Resort and Snow Time, Inc., for damages relating to injuries Vu suffered while skiing at Liberty Mountain Resort. The defendants successfully moved for summary judgment, and the plaintiffs now appeal. Because we conclude that the plaintiffs’ cause of action is barred by the Pennsylvania Skier’s Responsibility Act, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7102(c) (“PSRA”), we will affirm.

I.

We write principally for the parties and therefore recite only those facts necessary to our decision. On the evening of January 23, 2015, Vu was skiing down a trail at the Liberty Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. At some point, Vu encountered a snowboarder, who “either cut [him] off or got awfully close” to him. Appendix (“App.”) 314. To avoid colliding with the snowboarder, Vu “had a knee-jerk reaction to veer,” which led him toward the edge of the trail. Id. Vu skied over the edge, left the slope, and landed among a pile of rocks. He suffered multiple serious injuries, which he alleges were caused by his skiing over an unmarked, “artificial three to four-foot cliff at the slope’s edge” that was created by “the Defendants’ snowmaking and snow grooming practices.” Vu Br. 4.

Vu’s daughter, who was skiing with him, testified that she did not see Vu ski off of the slope, but she did find him laying off of the trail. She stated that to get to her father, she had to exercise caution due to the height difference between the artificial snow and the natural terrain. She also testified that she had no “difficulty that evening discerning the edge of the trail.” App. 74-75.

Dawson Disotelle was also present on the slope and witnessed the incident. He testified that he was snowboarding behind Vu and Vu’s daughter, and he saw that Vu’s “skis went to the left and his body went with [them] and he just went straight off the run.” App. 124-25. Thereafter, Disotelle attempted to render assistance to Vu, which required Disotelle to “hop[] down” to where Vu was laying. App. 143. According to Disotelle, the elevation change from the slope to where Vu landed was “[t]hree or four feet maybe,” and “it wasn’t a challenge to get down there.” Id. Like Vu’s daughter, Disotelle testified that he was able to “easily” distinguish the skiable trail from off trail. App. 129.

The plaintiffs filed a two-count complaint in October 2016. The first count alleged that the defendants were negligent for, among other things, failing to keep the slope free from unsafe conditions, warn Vu of the dangerous condition, and erect a fence or boundary marker to prevent skiers “from skiing over the edge and into the large rocks below.” App. 902-03. In the second count, Siew alleged loss of consortium.

The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing in part that the plaintiffs’ action was barred because “skiing off trail and colliding into rocks . . . is an inherent risk” of downhill skiing. App. 784. The District Court agreed and granted the motion. The plaintiffs now appeal.

II.

The District Court had diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and we have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We exercise plenary review over the grant of summary judgment, Bjorgung v. Whitetail Resort, LP, 550 F.3d 263, 268 (3d Cir. 2008), and must ascertain whether the movant has “show[n] that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party,” and a fact is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In conducting this analysis, we “view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Bjorgung, 550 F.3d at 268.

III.

In this action based on diversity jurisdiction, we apply Pennsylvania law. See Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 158 (3d Cir. 2000). The statute upon which this case turns is the PSRA, which acknowledges that “there are inherent risks in the sport of downhill skiing,” 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7102(c)(1), and, for that reason, “preserves assumption of risk as a defense to negligence suits stemming from downhill skiing injuries,” Smith v. Seven Springs Farm, Inc., 716 F.2d 1002, 1007 (3d Cir. 1983).

The PSRA establishes a “no-duty” rule for skiing injuries, relieving ski resorts of the “duty to protect skiers from risks that are ‘common, frequent, and expected,’ and thus ‘inherent’ to the sport.” Chepkevich v. Hidden Valley Resort, L.P., 2 A.3d 1174, 1186 (Pa. 2010). The no-duty rule applies in this context when: (1) the plaintiff was “engaged in the sport of downhill skiing at the time of her injury”; and (2) the risk of the injury at issue “is one of the ‘inherent risks’ of downhill skiing.” Hughes v. Seven Springs Farm, Inc., 762 A.2d 339, 344 (Pa. 2000). When both prongs are met, summary judgment is warranted in favor of the ski resort “because, as a matter of law, [the plaintiff] cannot recover for her injuries.” Id.

The PSRA “is unusual in its brevity and failure to give any definition of an ‘inherent’ risk of skiing,” Chepkevich, 2 A.3d at 1188 n.15, so we turn to caselaw for guidance. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has identified collisions with other skiers, “snow and ice, elevation, contour, speed and weather conditions,” Hughes, 762 A.2d at 344, and falling from a ski lift, Chepkevich, 2 A.3d at 1188, as inherent risks. It has also instructed other courts to adopt “a practical and logical interpretation of what risks are inherent to the sport,” id. at 1187-88, and explained that invocation of the PSRA does not require proof that the injured skier assumed the “specific risk” that caused injury – only that the injury arose from a “general risk” inherent to the sport, id. at 1188.

Applying this guidance, we conclude that the plaintiffs’ action is barred by the PSRA. The plaintiffs do not dispute that the first prong – “engaged in the sport of downhill skiing,” Hughes, 762 A.2d at 344 – is met. Only the “inherent risk” prong is at issue on appeal, and it is also satisfied.

The risk identified by the plaintiffs as causing Vu’s injuries is skiing off of a trail edge that was three to four feet above the natural terrain, which we conclude is inherent to the sport of downhill skiing.[1] Cf. Smith-Wille v. Ski Shawnee, Inc., 35 Pa. D. & C. 5th 473, 475, 484 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. 2014) (holding, where a skier was injured after losing control on an icy slope and crashing into a fence running along the edge of a ski trail, that “[t]he edge of the ski slope . . . [is an] inherent risk[] of skiing,” as is “[s]triking a protective fence designating and protecting skiers from the edge of the trail”). Not only does this risk appear to fall under the umbrella of elevation or contour (or both), which have been identified by Pennsylvania courts as inherent risks, Hughes, 762 A.2d at 344, but also other courts have recognized the more general risk of skiing off a trail as inherent to downhill skiing, see Nutbrown v. Mount Cranmore, Inc., 671 A.2d 548, 553 (N.H. 1996) (holding that when “the chief cause of [the plaintiff’s] injuries” was the “quintessential risk . . . that a skier might lose control and ski off the trail,” he “may not recover against a ski area operator for resulting injuries”); cf. Bjorgung, 550 F.3d at 265, 269 (holding that the PSRA barred a competitive skier’s cause of action where he was injured after he skied into the woods off of a trail because the failure to set safety netting or “fix a race course in a way that minimizes the potential for the competitors to lose control” were inherent risks of ski racing).

Given “the clear legislative intent to preserve the assumption of the risk doctrine in this particular area, as well as the broad wording of the Act itself,” the District Court correctly concluded that skiing over a slope edge and leaving the trail is an inherent risk of downhill skiing from which the defendants had no duty to protect Vu. Chepkevich, 2 A.3d at 1187. That is particularly true because Vu – who had been skiing for more than twenty years as of January 2015 and could ski black diamond, or the “most difficult,” slopes, App. 908, 1025 – acknowledges “that downhill skiing is a dangerous, risk sport” and “that if he skied off trail, he could encounter trees[ and] rocks,” App. 909, 911, 1025, 1027, and because Vu’s daughter and Disotelle both testified that they had no trouble discerning the slope edge, and on trail from off trail, on January 23, 2015.

The plaintiffs unsuccessfully make four related arguments, which we briefly address. To begin, they make much of the fact that the elevation difference between the slope edge and the natural terrain “was not a naturally occurring condition” but rather the result of the defendants’ grooming or making artificial snow. Vu Br. 5. This distinction is of no import for two reasons. First, the PSRA is concerned with the general, not the specific, risk that allegedly caused injury. Chepkevich, 2 A.3d at 1188. The general risk at issue is skiing over a slope edge (natural or not) and encountering off-trail conditions. Second, the PSRA bars recovery not only for injuries due to naturally occurring conditions, but also for injuries due to any “common, frequent, and expected” risk. Id. at 1186. Indeed, it has been invoked to preclude actions relating to PVC piping on a fence, Smith-Wille, 35 Pa. D. & C. 5th at 484, snowmaking equipment, Glasser v. Seven Springs Mountain Resort, 6 Pa. D. & C. 5th 25, 29 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. 2008), aff’d, 986 A.2d 1290 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2009), a ski lift, Chepkevich, 2 A.3d at 1188, and “wheel ruts on a ski slope created by an ATV,” Kibler v. Blue Knob Recreation, Inc., 184 A.3d 974, 980-81 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018). Although none of those causes of injury are naturally occurring conditions, they were all found to be inherent risks of downhill skiing.

Second, the plaintiffs contend that the “unguarded existence” of this slope made of artificial snow “is a deviation from the standard of care in the skiing industry,” apparently attempting to invoke the exception to the no-duty rule explained in Jones v. Three Rivers Management Corp., 394 A.2d 546 (Pa. 1978). Vu Br. 14. Pursuant to Jones, although sports facilities and amusement parks have no duty to protect against inherent risks, a plaintiff may recover from one such establishment for injury caused by an inherent risk if she “introduces adequate evidence that the amusement facility . . . deviated in some relevant respect from established custom.” Jones, 394 A.2d at 550-51. The plaintiffs have not provided support for this assertion beyond their expert’s report, [2] which does not clearly identify any industry standard from which the defendants are supposed to have deviated, but instead merely asserts that they violated generally accepted practices within the industry.[3]

Third, the plaintiffs seem to assert that the District Court improperly resolved a disputed issue of material fact in the defendants’ favor because reasonable jurors could disagree whether a slope edge with a three to four-foot elevation difference is an inherent risk. We reject this argument because the record citation provided does not support the plaintiffs’ contention, and the cases upon which the plaintiffs rely are inapposite, one involving the application of Vermont law and the other (predating Hughes and Chepkevich) applying a no-duty standard different from the standard espoused in those two cases.

Fourth, the plaintiffs also contend that the legislative intent behind the PSRA could not have been to encourage “the creation of artificial, Defendant-made ‘cliffs’ along . . . trail edges.” Vu Br. 6. For all of the reasons already discussed, we reject this argument as well.

In sum, we conclude that the plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by risks inherent to downhill skiing, satisfying the second prong of the Hughes test. Because it is undisputed that Vu was “engaged in the sport of downhill skiing at the time of [his] injur[ies],” the first prong is also met, such that summary judgment in favor of the defendants was properly granted. Hughes, 762 A.2d at 344.

IV.

For the aforementioned reasons, we will affirm the judgment of the District Court.

Notes:

[+] The Honorable Juan Sánchez, Chief United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, sitting by designation.

[*]This disposition is not an opinion of the full Court and, pursuant to I.O.P. 5.7, does not constitute binding precedent.

[1] To the extent that the plaintiffs allege that Vu’s injuries resulted from his attempt to avoid a collision with a snowboarder, we conclude that that risk is also inherent to downhill skiing. See Hughes, 762 A.2d at 345.

[2] The defendants argue that the expert report is unsworn and therefore may not be considered on a motion for summary judgment. Given our conclusion, we need not address this contention.

[3] The plaintiffs also point to evidence of “other skiers being injured at [Liberty Mountain Resort] in the exact same manner” on other slopes during previous seasons. Vu Br. 11-12. Such evidence does not identify any industry custom or Liberty Mountain Resort’s deviation from it.