Schlumbrecht-Muniz v. Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30484

Schlumbrecht-Muniz v. Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30484

Linda Schlumbrecht-Muniz, M.D., Plaintiff, v. Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation, a Delaware Corporation d/b/a STEAMBOAT, Defendant.

Civil Action No. 14-cv-00191-MSK-NYW

United States District Court for the District of Colorado

2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30484

February 23, 2015, Decided

February 23, 2015, Filed

SUBSEQUENT HISTORY: Rejected by, Motion denied by Schlumbrecht-Muniz v. Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30447 (D. Colo., Mar. 11, 2015)

Summary judgment granted, in part, summary judgment denied, in part by Schlumbrecht-Muniz v. Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125899 (D. Colo., Sept. 21, 2015)

CORE TERMS: snowmobile, skiing, inherent dangers, ski, skier, parked, collision, recommendation, slope, trail, snow, ski areas, respondeat superior, terrain, Ski Safety Act, ski resort, sport, lamp, avalanche, man-made, feet, ski run, negligence per se, inherent risks, right to appeal, statutory definition, de novo review, deceleration, enlargement, exhaustive

COUNSEL: [*1] For Linda Schlumbrecht-Muniz, M.D., Plaintiff: Mark P. Martens, Martens & Associates, P.C., Denver, CO.

For Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation, a Delaware Corporation doing business as Steamboat, Defendant: Kimberly A. Viergever, Peter W. Rietz, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Brian Alan Birenbach, Rietz Law Firm, LLC, Dillon, CO.

JUDGES: Nina Y. Wang, United States Magistrate Judge.

OPINION BY: Nina Y. Wang

OPINION

RECOMMENDATION REGARDING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS

Magistrate Judge Wang

This matter comes before the court on Defendant Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation’s (“Steamboat”) Motion to Dismiss [#14], filed on April 7, 2014. Steamboat seeks to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Plaintiff Dr. Linda Schlumbrecht-Muniz (“Plaintiff” or “Dr. Muniz”) on January 23, 2014. The Motion was referred to this Magistrate Judge pursuant to the Order of Reference dated February 6, 2014 [#9] and memorandum dated May 6, 2014 [#24]. After carefully considering the Motion and related briefing, the entire case file, and the applicable case law, I respectfully RECOMMEND that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED.

BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Dr. Muniz filed this lawsuit asserting claims of negligence, negligence per se, and respondeat superior [*2] against Steamboat and seeking damages for injuries incurred while skiing at Steamboat Ski Resort. The court has diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

The following is a statement of Dr. Muniz’ allegations as pled. On January 24, 2012, Dr. Muniz was skiing on a marked and open ski run known as “Bashor Bowl.” [#7 at ¶ 7]. Earlier in the day, a Steamboat employee had parked a snowmobile at the bottom of Bashor Bowl. The vehicle was not visible for 100 feet. [Id. at ¶ 9]. Dr. Muniz collided with the snowmobile and sustained personal injuries for which she now seeks compensatory damages.

Dr. Muniz filed her original Complaint on January 23, 2014, naming Steamboat and IRCE, Inc. a/k/a Intrawest Resorts, Inc (“IRCE). [#1]. She amended her Complaint on February 3, 2014 to dismiss IRCE as a defendant. [#7]. Steamboat waived service on February 5, 2014 [#10], filed the pending Motion to Dismiss on April 7, 2014 [#14], and filed a Motion to Stay Discovery on April 25, 2014. [#16]. Plaintiff filed a Response to the Motion to Dismiss on April 28, 2014 [#17], and filed a Response to the Motion to Stay on May 5, 2014 [#19], stating she did not object to the request. Steamboat filed a Reply in support [*3] of its Motion to Dismiss on May 12, 2014. [#26]. On October 28, 2014, the court denied Steamboat’s Motion to Stay. [#36].

Steamboat filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on January 5, 2015. [#41]. Dr. Muniz filed her Response on January 26, 2015 [#45], and Steamboat filed its Reply on February 9, 2015. [#47]. This action was reassigned to this Magistrate Judge the same day. [#46].

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a court to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). To survive such a motion, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009). In deciding a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court views factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Casanova v. Ulibarri, 595 F.3d 1120, 1124 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009)).

However, a plaintiff may not rely on mere labels or conclusions to carry its burden, “and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007). As the Tenth Circuit explained in Ridge at Red Hawk, L.L.C. v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007), “the mere metaphysical possibility that some plaintiff could prove some set of facts in support of the pleaded claims is insufficient; the complaint must give the court reason to believe that this plaintiff has a reasonable [*4] likelihood of mustering factual support for these claims.” The ultimate duty of the court is to “determine whether the complaint sufficiently alleges facts supporting all the elements necessary to establish an entitlement to relief under the legal theory proposed.” Forest Guardians v. Forsgren, 478 F.3d 1149, 1160 (10th Cir. 2007).

ANALYSIS

Steamboat argues that Dr. Muniz fails to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because, pursuant to the Colorado Ski Safety Act (“Ski Safety Act” or “Act”), C.R.S. § 33-44-101 to 114, it is immune from any claim for damages resulting from “the inherent dangers and risks of skiing,” and Plaintiff’s collision with a parked snowmobile qualifies as such. Steamboat further argues that Dr. Muniz failed to plead a violation of any section of the Act, and that her respondeat superior claim must fail as derivative of the other two Claims.

The Ski Safety Act sets forth safety standards for the operation of ski areas and for the skiers using them, and defines the rights and liabilities existing between the skier and the ski area operator. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-44-102. See also Doering ex el Barrett v. Copper Mountain, 259 F.3d 1202, 1212 (10th Cir. 2001).1 “Notwithstanding any judicial decision or any other law or statute to the contrary, … no skier may make any claim against or recover from any ski area operator for injury [*5] resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-44-112. The definition of “inherent dangers and risks of skiing” specifically excludes “the negligence of a ski operator as set forth in section 33-44-104(2),” which provides that “a ski operator’s violation of any requirement under the Ski Safety Act that results in injury to any person constitutes negligence.” Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 33-44-104(2), -112. Accordingly, Steamboat may be liable under one of two theories: a skier may recover if her injury resulted from an occurrence not considered an inherent danger or risk of skiing; or a skier may recover if the ski operator violated a provision of the Act and that violation resulted in injury. See Kumar v. Copper Mountain, Inc., 431 Fed. Appx. 736, 737, 738 (10th Cir. 2011). A claim arising under the first instance would fall outside of the Act and be governed by common-law negligence principles. Id. (citing Graven v. Vail Assocs., 909 P.2d 514, 520 (1995), partially abrogated on other grounds by Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-44-112). Dr. Muniz asserts claims under both theories of liability.

1 No one contests that Steamboat is a “ski area operator” and Plaintiff is a “skier” as defined in the Act.

A. Negligence

The Ski Safety Act defines “inherent dangers and risks of skiing” to mean:

those dangers or conditions that are part of the sport of skiing, including changing weather conditions; snow [*6] conditions as they exist or may change, such as ice, hard pack, powder, packed powder, wind pack, corn, crust, slush, cut-up snow, and machine-made snow; surface or subsurface conditions such as bare spots, forest growth, rocks, stumps, streambeds, cliffs, extreme terrain, and trees, or other natural objects, and collisions with such natural objects; impact with lift towers, signs, posts, fences or enclosures, hydrants, water pipes, or other man-made structures and their components; variations in steepness or terrain, whether natural or as a result of slope design, snowmaking or grooming operations, including but not limited to roads, freestyle terrain, jumps, and catwalks or other terrain modifications; collisions with other skiers; and the failure of skiers to ski within their own abilities.

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-44-103(3.5). Steamboat argues that the list presented in this section is not exhaustive, and should be read to include collisions with snowmobiles.

In Graven v. Vail Associates, Inc., the Colorado Supreme Court reserved the issue of whether the list in section 33-44-103(3.5) is exclusive, though indicated that “[t]he word ‘include’ [ ] ordinarily signifies extension or enlargement and is not definitionally equivalent to the word ‘mean.'” [*7] Graven, 909 P.2d at 519 n. 4. See also Colo. Common Cause v. Meyer, 758 P.2d 153, 163-64 (Colo. 1988) (en banc) (“The word ‘includes’ has been found by the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions to be a term of extension or enlargement when used in a statutory definition. The use of ‘includes’ in the statutory definition of ‘political committee,’ therefore, connotes that something else is encompassed by the definition beyond what was previously covered by the immediately preceding language.”) (citations omitted).

More recently, the Colorado Court of Appeals held in Fleury v. Intrawest Winter Park Operations Corp., that the list of inherent dangers contained in section 33-44-103(3.5) is not exhaustive. 2014 COA 13, — P.3d –, 2014 WL 554237 (Colo. App. 2014). In Fleury, the court considered whether an avalanche that had caused the death of appellant’s husband qualified as an “inherent danger or risk of skiing” even though that specific hazard is not listed in section 33-44-103(3.5). By giving effect to the plain meaning of the words and reviewing the legislative intent surrounding the Act, the court concluded that an avalanche fits into the definition of inherent danger or risk. 2014 COA 13, [WL] at *2-3. First, the court reasoned that section 33-44-103(3.5) uses the word “including,” which indicates the list “is illustrative and not, as [appellant] argues, confined to the identified dangers.” 2014 COA 13, [WL] at *2 (“Because the General [*8] Assembly typically uses “include” as a word of extension or enlargement, listing examples in a statutory definition does not restrict the term’s meaning.”). (citations omitted). Next, the court considered the Colorado General Assembly’s decision in 2004 to alter the definition of inherent dangers and risks of skiing. The revision changed “dangers or conditions which are an integral part of the sport of skiing” to “dangers or conditions that are part of the sport of skiing,” thereby broadening the types of inherent risks covered by the Act and decreasing the liability of ski area operators. 2014 COA 13, [WL] at *4 (citing Ch. 341, sec. 1, § 33-44-103(3.5), 2004 Colo. Sess. Laws. 1393). Finally, the court determined that an avalanche, “a large mass of snow, ice, earth, rock, or other material in swift motion down a mountainside or over a precipice” fits one or more of the statutory examples of inherent dangers or risks of skiing. 2014 COA 13, [WL] at 3 (citing Kumar, 431 Fed. Appx. at 738) (resolving that cornice falls “within the section relating to snow conditions as they exist or change, or the provision covering variations in steepness or terrain.”). In concluding, the Fleury court stated, “the inclusion of an avalanche as an inherent danger or risk of skiing is consistent with [*9] the General Assembly’s intent, as evidenced by the evolution of the Act.” Id. Justice Navarro concurred in the ruling and Justice J. Jones filed a dissent.2 One month following that decision, a court in this District noted in passing that “the Act’s list of ‘inherent dangers,’ [ ] is nonexclusive.” Bazarewski v. Vail Corp., 23 F. Supp. 3d 1327, 1331 (D. Colo. 2014) (determining that resort was immune under the Act for damages resulting from injuries caused by impact of rubber tube against rubber deceleration mats because deceleration mats are an inherent part of the snow tubing activity) (emphasis in original).

2 On December 8, 2014, the Supreme Court of Colorado granted a Petition for Writ of Certiorari as to whether, for the purposes of the Ski Safety Act, “the term inherent dangers and risk of skiing, as defined in section 33-44-103(3.5), C.R.S. (2014) encompasses avalanches that occur within the bounds of a ski resort, in areas open to skiers at the time in question.” Fleury v. IntraWest Winter Park Operations Corp., No. 14SC224, 2014 Colo. LEXIS 1074, 2014 WL 6883934 (Colo. December 8, 2014).

This court finds the reasoning of Fleury persuasive and that the list in section 33-44-103(3.5) is not exhaustive. I am also persuaded that the presence of a parked snow mobile at the end of a ski run is an inherent risk of the sport of skiing. While Steamboat cites Fleury for that court’s description of the “common understanding of [*10] a ‘danger,'” and analogizes the presence of a snowmobile to cornices, avalanches, and rubber deceleration mats for tubing [#14 at 5], I find that a parked snowmobile is not analogous to those examples because a snowmobile is not part of the on-course terrain of the sport. However, the other provisions of the Act are more instructive. For instance, as Steamboat notes, section 33-44-109(4) of the Ski Safety Act provides, in pertinent part: “Each skier shall stay clear of snow-grooming equipment, all vehicles, lift towers, signs, and any other equipment on the ski slopes and trails.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-44-109(4). This section demonstrates the General Assembly’s intent to hold the skier, rather than the ski operator, responsible for avoiding vehicles on the ski slopes and trails. And section 33-44-108(3) mandates that snowmobiles operating on ski slopes and trails be equipped with certain visibility-related accessories. These provisions indicate that the General Assembly expects that snowmobiles are present in ski areas — both on the slopes and trails — and pose a risk to skiers.

Similarly, this court has previously held that plaintiff’s collision with a snowmobile while skiing was included as a “risk of skiing/riding.” Robinette v. Aspen Skiing Co., LLC, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34873, 2009 WL 1108093, *2 (D. Colo. 2009), aff’d 363 Fed. Appx. 547 (10th Cir. 2010). In Robinette, Chief Judge [*11] Krieger held that “the specific risk of colliding with a snowmobile being operated by a ski resort employee is necessarily within the ‘risks of skiing/riding,'” and cited section 33-44-108(3) for support that skier-snowmobile collisions are a known potential risk. 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34873, [WL] at *3. While the court was interpreting a particular ski resort release rather than the statute, the analysis remains the same. The fact that the snowmobile was parked near the end of the ski run, rather than moving, also does not alter conclusion.

Accordingly, I find that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for negligence that is plausible on its face, and I recommend granting Steamboat’s Motion to Dismiss as to this claim.

B. Negligence Per Se

Steamboat argues that Plaintiff’s Second Claim should be dismissed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) for failure to specify the provision of the Act that Steamboat allegedly violated. Steamboat further argues that if Plaintiff intended to claim a violation of section 33-44-107(7), that general provision is inapplicable because section 33-44-108(3) of the Act pertains specifically to snowmobiles.

Plaintiff clarifies in her Response that the negligence per se claim is for violation of section 33-44-108(3), which requires snowmobiles operated “on the ski slopes or trails of a ski area” to [*12] be equipped with “[o]ne lighted headlamp, one lighted red tail lamp, a brake system maintained in operable condition, and a fluorescent flag at least forty square inches mounted at least six feet above the bottom of the tracks.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-44-108(3). Plaintiff also posits that because the snowmobile was parked, Steamboat is in violation of section 33-44-107(7), which requires that man-made structures be visible from at least 100 feet away. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-44-107(7)). Plaintiff offers that a question exists as to whether a parked snowmobile is governed under section 33-44-108(3), requiring it to have an illuminated head lamp or trail lamp, or under section 33-44-107(7), requiring that it be visible from 100 feet.

Neither approach leads Plaintiff to her desired result. Steamboat correctly asserts that if the snowmobile is characterized as a man-made object, Plaintiff’s impact with it was an inherent danger and risk pursuant to section 33-44-103(3.5), and Steamboat is immune to liability for the resulting injuries. See Bayer v. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Inc., 960 P.2d 70, 74 (Colo. 1998) (holding that inherent risks of skiing include “collisions with natural and man-made objects.”). If Plaintiff intends for her Claim to proceed under the theory that Steamboat violated section 33-44-108(3) by failing to equip the snowmobile with the proper lighting, she did not plead that the parked vehicle lacked the [*13] required items, and mentions only in passing in her Response that the vehicle “did not have an illuminated head lamp or trail lamp because it was not operating.” [#17 at 10]. Indeed, there is no section of the Act that requires any marking of the stationary snowmobile.

C. Respondeat Superior

Steamboat argues that Dr. Muniz’s Third Claim should be dismissed as derivative of her other Claims. An employer may be held liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior if damage results from the employee’s actions that were taken on behalf of the employer. Raleigh v. Performance Plumbing and Heating, 130 P.3d 1011, 1019 (Colo. 2006) (citing Grease Monkey Int’l, Inc. v. Montoya, 904 P.2d 468, 473 (Colo. 1995)). Plaintiff has alleged that the Steamboat employee was acting within the scope of her employment when she parked the snowmobile at the base of Bashor Bowl. See id. (“Under the theory of respondeat superior, the question of whether an employee is acting within the scope of the employment is a question of fact”) (citation omitted). Because I have found that a collision with a snowmobile located on a ski slope is an inherent danger or risk of skiing, Dr. Muniz’s claim for respondeat superior must also fail.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, I respectfully RECOMMEND that Defendant Steamboat’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #14) be GRANTED. [*14] 3

3 Within fourteen days after service of a copy of the Recommendation, any party may serve and file written objections to the Magistrate Judge’s proposed findings and recommendations with the Clerk of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); In re Griego, 64 F.3d 580, 583 (10th Cir. 1995). A general objection that does not put the District Court on notice of the basis for the objection will not preserve the objection for de novo review. “[A] party’s objections to the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation must be both timely and specific to preserve an issue for de novo review by the district court or for appellate review.” United States v. One Parcel of Real Property Known As 2121 East 30th Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 73 F.3d 1057, 1060 (10th Cir. 1996). Failure to make timely objections may bar de novo review by the District Judge of the Magistrate Judge’s proposed findings and recommendations and will result in a waiver of the right to appeal from a judgment of the district court based on the proposed findings and recommendations of the magistrate judge. See Vega v. Suthers, 195 F.3d 573, 579-80 (10th Cir. 1999) (District Court’s decision to review a Magistrate Judge’s recommendation de novo despite the lack of an objection does not preclude application of the “firm waiver rule”); International Surplus Lines Insurance Co. v. Wyoming Coal Refining Systems, Inc., 52 F.3d 901, 904 (10th Cir. 1995) (by failing to object to certain portions of [*15] the Magistrate Judge’s order, cross-claimant had waived its right to appeal those portions of the ruling); Ayala v. United States, 980 F.2d 1342, 1352 (10th Cir. 1992) (by their failure to file objections, plaintiffs waived their right to appeal the Magistrate Judge’s ruling). But see, Morales-Fernandez v. INS, 418 F.3d 1116, 1122 (10th Cir. 2005) (firm waiver rule does not apply when the interests of justice require review).

DATED: February 23, 2015

BY THE COURT:

/s/ Nina Y. Wang

United States Magistrate Judge

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Final: 2015-2016 In bound ski/board fatalities

This list is not guaranteed to be accurate. The information is found from web searches and news dispatches. Those references are part of the chart. If you have a source for information on any fatality please leave a comment or contact me. Thank you.

If this information is incorrect or incomplete please let me know.  This is up to date as of April 21, 2016. Thanks.

Skiing and Snowboarding are still safer than being in your kitchen or bathroom. This information is not to scare you away from skiing but to help you understand the risks.

Red type is natural or medical conditions that occurred inbounds on the slopes

Green Type is Fatalities while sledding at the Resort

Blue Type is a Lift Accidents

Purple Tye is Employee or Ski Patroller

2015 – 2016 Ski Season Fatalities

#

Date

State

Resort

Where

Trail Difficulty

How

Cause

Ski/ Board

Age

Sex

Home town

Helmet

Reference

Ref # 2

1

11/29/15

CA

Bear Mountain

 

 

she collided with a metal stairway

 

Ski

21

F

Jackson Township CA

 

http://rec-law.us/1HAkwAp

http://rec-law.us/1LJ13sm

2

12/7/15

WY

Jackson Hole

Moran Run

Blue

Hit tree

 

Board

23

F

Boston, MA

Y

http://rec-law.us/1OO1M1P

http://rec-law.us/1NGuZLh

3

12/15/15

CO

Steamboat

 

 

fell, landing face down in the snow

 

Ski

70

M

Louisville CO

 

http://rec-law.us/1TPTaHk

http://rec-law.us/1YksmR0

4

12/19/15

WA

Snoqualmie Pass

Silver Fir

 

tree-well

 

Ski

50

M

North Bend, WA

 

http://rec-law.us/1ZDDJG7

http://rec-law.us/1ms5yCF

5

12/22/15

WY

Jackson Hole

Sundance run

 

found inverted in a tree well

 

Ski

25

F

Jackson Hole, WY

Y

http://rec-law.us/1kwuRlK

http://rec-law.us/1mlDKjR

6

12/23/15

NY

Whiteface Lake Placid

Summit Express

Blue

fell and struck his head

blunt impact to the head

Board

26

M

Litiz, PA

N

http://rec-law.us/1P2BrJ2

 

7

12/23/15

CA

Bear Valley

 

 

 

 

Ski

71

M

 

 

http://rec-law.us/1JMVglS

http://rec-law.us/1OvzGUe

8

1/6/16

CO

Vail

 

 

 

tree well

Board

25

M

Avon, CO

 

http://rec-law.us/1ZqNv1y

http://rec-law.us/1ZYSDa6

9

1/12/16

UT

Park City

 

Intermediate

 

 

 

60

M

 

 

http://rec-law.us/1SNa4bx

 

10

1/20

CO

Keystone

Elk Run

 

Hit a tree

 

 

27

M

Boulder, CO

 

http://rec-law.us/1WtPfBv

http://rec-law.us/1or4JLh

11

1/24/16

VT

Mount Snow

Ripcord

Double Diamond

Hit Tree

Blunt Force Trauma

Board

57

M

Simsbury CT

Yes

http://rec-law.us/20r061U

http://rec-law.us/1KNgLDR

12

1/28/16

CO

Winter Park

 

 

 

 

Skier

24

M

Kalamazoo, MI

 

http://rec-law.us/1T5oZyT

 

13

1/30/16

ID

Solider Mountain

 

 

Hit building

 

Ski

14

F

Twin Falls, ID

Yes

http://rec-law.us/1NMwqDo

http://rec-law.us/1NMwqDo

14

2/3/16

PA

Blue Mountain Ski Area

 

 

 

blunt-force trauma

 

35

M

Tacoma, WA

 

http://rec-law.us/1VQlo5H

http://rec-law.us/1QL2hJ1

15

2/6

CA

Mt. Waterman

 

 

struck a tree

 

 

60

M

Winnetka, CA

 

http://rec-law.us/1RfvH4l

http://rec-law.us/1o6o30m

16

2/6

WI

Cascade Mountain Ski Hill

 

 

struck a tree

 

 

24

F

Oconto Falls, WI

No

http://rec-law.us/23RlSyy

http://rec-law.us/1LgT3js

17

2/6

UT

Park City Mtn Resort

Tombstone

 

collapsed

 

 

67

M

UT

 

http://rec-law.us/1K9Ehjw

 

18

2/15/16

VT

Burke Mountain Ski Area

Big Dipper Trail

 

collided with a tree

 

 

58

M

Watertown

No

http://rec-law.us/1mFfMPZ

http://rec-law.us/1POEu8S

19

2/16

NV

Heavenly Mountain Resort

Crossover and Comet ski runs

 

striking a tree

 

 

77

F

Madison, WI

 

http://rec-law.us/1oMH9sR

http://rec-law.us/1Oi11sG

20

2/22/16

UT

Snowbasin Ski

Janis’ trail

 

crashing into a tree,

 

 

56

M

NJ

N

http://rec-law.us/1Ukt7uB

 

21

2/22/16 (2/15)

CO

Aspen

 

Taking Lesson

Fell down

Head injury

 

68

M

CO,

 

http://rec-law.us/1SQuxxt

http://rec-law.us/1RYUVnJ

22

2/22/16

NY

Gore Mountain Ski Center

 

Double Black Diamond

struck several trees

 

 

65

M

Minerva, NY

Y

http://rec-law.us/1p1jSDG

http://rec-law.us/1VCcFnT

23

2/25

CO

Beaver Creek

 

Intermediate

Hit a sign attached to a wooden post between runs

blunt force trauma to the chest

 

39

M

Knoxville, TN

Y

http://rec-law.us/1QdvDQj

http://rec-law.us/1OFH6UP

24

2/26

MI

Crystal Mountain

Cheers Race Course

Intermediate

Lost control & slid backward

 

 

58

M

Traverse City, MI

Y

http://rec-law.us/1QdvDQj

http://rec-law.us/1n8gDJ7

25

2/27

PA

Seven Springs

Wagner Trail

 

Skier v. Skier Collision

 

 

51

M

Delmont

 

http://rec-law.us/1RA8V5e

http://rec-law.us/1LPZcnc

26

2/27

 

Squaw Valley resort

Headwall

 

fell and slid down the slope through a stand of trees, suffering multiple injuries

 

 

62

F

Olympic Valley

Y

http://rec-law.us/1Qh8MDD

http://rec-law.us/1Qh8MDD

27

3/1

CO

Breckenridge Ski Resort

Sundown

intermediate

he collided with another skier, lost control and ran into a tree

blunt force trauma injuries

 

26

M

Breckenridge, CO

N

http://rec-law.us/24BbQ4W

http://rec-law.us/1Slbxq4

28

 

 

Beaver Mountain Ski Resort

 

 

struck a tree

 

 

18

M

Camano Island, WA

 

http://rec-law.us/1TeeLg2

http://rec-law.us/1pqgmD5

 

3/6

WI

Cascade Mountain Ski Hill

 

 

running into a tree

 

 

 

F

Oconto Falls, WI

N

http://rec-law.us/21NEvov

 

30

3/6

NV

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe

Galena run

 

reportedly fallen or collapsed

 

 

43

M

Reno, NV

 

http://rec-law.us/1SCRgwi

http://rec-law.us/1UYgTbw

31

3/9

CO

Telluride Ski Resort

Gold Hill

 

lost his skis and tumbled down a steep, wooded terrain

 

 

49

M

Colorado Springs, CO

 

http://rec-law.us/1SCRNOV

 

32

3/9

CO

Copper Mountain

American Flyer

Intermediate

hit a tree

blunt force trauma injuries

 

19

M

Arlington, VA

Y

http://rec-law.us/1UiqHfC

http://rec-law.us/1RDR0Z3

33

 

MT

 

 

 

in some trees near a ski lift

 

 

82

M

CA

 

 rec-law.us/1P223JC

 

34

3/19

CO

Telluride

Coonskin

Black Diamond

skis detached from his boots

crashed into trees

 

69

M

Greenwood, S.C.

 

http://rec-law.us/1PkTF86

http://rec-law.us/1Mxk4Qr

35

3/20

UT

Snowbird

Chip’s Run

 

 

hit a rock before losing control and colliding with the tree

 

57

M

 

 

http://rec-law.us/22s5Wog

http://rec-law.us/1o2dk6Q

36

3/24

CO

Steamboat Ski Area

Nastar Course

 

Fell

 

 

 

M

 

 

http://rec-law.us/1pBsUqX

http://rec-law.us/1UkfUTM

37

3/27

NH

Cannon Mtn

Upper Ravine Trail

 

sharp turn and struck a tree

Massive head trauma

 

29

M

Holden, MA

N

http://rec-law.us/1ZGeNNQ

http://rec-law.us/1ohdGXo

38

4/2

UT

Park City

 

Advanced

collided with a tree

 

 

48

M

Aspen, CO

 

http://rec-law.us/1UPNphr

http://rec-law.us/1V4mVbn

39

4/4

CO

Breckenridge

Tiger

Expert

Collided with another skier

 

 

43

M

Randolph, NJ

 

http://rec-law.us/23earj6

http://rec-law.us/1UTCSSn

40

4/6

CO

Breckenridge

Claimjumper

Intermediate

snowboarder collided with a tree

blunt force trauma

Board

32

M

 

Y

http://rec-law.us/1WlGz2t

http://rec-law.us/1SdftL9

41

4/9

ID

Bald Mountain Ski Area

Upper Greyhawk

 

speed flying

 

Ski

24

M

 

 

http://rec-law.us/1WBxSBf

http://rec-law.us/26cPR4Z

42

4/20

CO

Breckenridge Ski Area

Monte Cristo

 

hitting a tree

blunt force trauma injuries

Ski

20

F

Denver, CO

Y

http://rec-law.us/1YTB0qR

http://rec-law.us/1VSkLwL

 

 If you cannot read the entire chart you can download a PDF here: 2015 – 2016 Ski Season Deaths 6.15.16

Our condolences go to the families of the deceased. Our thoughts extend to the families and staff at the ski areas who have to deal with these tragedies.

If you cannot read the entire chart you can download it here.

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Colorado Supreme Court rules that an inbounds Avalanche is an inherent risk assumed by skiers based upon the Colorado Skier Safety Act.

The decision came down as generally expected, an avalanche is snow and any type of snow is an inherent risk assumed by skiers and boarders as defined by the Colorado Skier Safety Act.

Fleury v. IntraWest Winter Park Operations Corporation, 2016 CO 41; 2016 Colo. LEXIS 532

State: Colorado, Supreme Court of Colorado

Plaintiff: Salynda E. Fleury, individually on behalf of Indyka Norris and Sage Norris, and as surviving spouse of Christopher H. Norris

Defendant: IntraWest Winter Park Operations Corporation

Plaintiff Claims: negligence and wrongful death

Defendant Defenses: Colorado Skier Safety Act

Holding: for the defendant

Year: 2016

The deceased went  skiing at Winter Park. While skiing he rode a lift to Trestle Trees run, an inbounds run at Winter Park. An avalanche occurred, and the skier was killed.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center, (CAIC) had been issuing warnings about avalanches based on new heavy snows. Winter Park admitted knowing about the warnings and knowing that there was the possibility of unstable snow on Trestle Trees run. Winter Park also never posted warning signs about the avalanche risk or closed runs.

Side comment: What would you do if you saw a sign that said warning, increased likelihood of avalanches today?

The plaintiff sued, and the trial court dismissed the case based on the Colorado Skier Safety Act (CSSA). The appellate court in a split decision upheld the trial court ruling. The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari and heard the case.

Certiorari is granted when an appeal to an appellate court to hear a case is approved. There is no automatic right of appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court for civil cases (most of the time) so the party that wants to appeal has to file an argument why the Supreme Court should hear their appeal. If the appeal is granted, then a Writ of Certiorari is issued telling the parties to bring their case to the court. Certiorari is Latin for “to be informed of, or to be made certain in regard to.”

When a Writ of Certiorari is granted, most times the arguments to be presented to the court are defined by the court.  Here the writ was issued to:

Whether, for the purposes of the Ski Safety Act (“SSA”) of 1979, codified at sections C.R.S. 33-44-101 to -114 (2014), the term “inherent dangers and risks of skiing,” as defined in C.R.S. 33-44-103(3.5) (2014), encompasses avalanches that occur within the bounds of a ski resort, in areas open to skiers at the time in question.

Probably, because of the value of the decision to the state, skiing is a big economic driver and because of the split decision at the Colorado Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court heard the case and issued this decision.

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

The entire issue revolves around interpreting once section of the CSSA. The words or phrases the Court liked at are highlighted.

C.R.S. §§ 33-44-103. Definitions.

(3.5) “Inherent dangers and risks of skiing” means those dangers or conditions that are part of the sport of skiing, including changing weather conditions; snow conditions as they exist or may change, such as ice, hard pack, powder, packed powder, wind pack, corn, crust, slush, cut-up snow, and machine-made snow; surface or subsurface conditions such as bare spots, forest growth, rocks, stumps, streambeds, cliffs, extreme terrain, and trees, or other natural objects, and collisions with such natural objects; impact with lift towers, signs, posts, fences or enclosures, hydrants, water pipes, or other man-made structures and their components; variations in steepness or terrain, whether natural or as a result of slope design, snowmaking or grooming operations, including but not limited to roads, freestyle terrain, jumps, and catwalks or other terrain modifications; collisions with other skiers; and the failure of skiers to ski within their own abilities. The term “inherent dangers and risks of skiing” does not include the negligence of a ski area operator as set forth in section 33-44-104 (2). Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the liability of the ski area operator for injury caused by the use or operation of ski lifts.

If an avalanche is an inherent risk as defined by the CSSA, then a skier/boarder/tele skier, etc., assumes the risk and cannot sue the ski area for any injury or claim.

Does the phrases weather conditions and snow conditions as they exist or may change encompass or the term Avalanche or can an Avalanche be defined by such phrases.

One obvious way in which a snow condition “may change” is through movement of the snow, including by wind and gravity. And at its core, an avalanche is moving snow caused by gravity. The dictionary definition of “avalanche” is “a large mass of snow, ice, earth, rock, or other material in swift motion down a mountainside or over a precipice.”

The court found that the phrases in the CSSA defined an avalanche.

At bottom, then, an avalanche is one way in which snow conditions may change. As alleged here, snow conditions started with fresh snow on unstable snowpack, and, within moments, changed to a mound of snow at the bottom of the incline. We therefore, conclude that Norris’s death is alleged to have been caused by changing snow conditions.

The decision was fairly simple for the court to reach.

Because an avalanche is, at its essence, the movement of snow, and is therefore, a way in which snow conditions may change, we hold that section 33-44-103(3.5) covers in-bounds avalanches. It follows that section 33-44-112 precludes skiers from suing operators to recover for injuries resulting from in-bounds avalanches.

There was a dissent to this opinion joined by one other judge who interpreted the issues along the arguments made by the plaintiff. An avalanche was not a snow condition but was an event. As such, it does not fall within the inherent risks of the CSSA.

The dissent was further supported by the idea that the statute was broad but the inherent risks were narrow in scope. If the legislature wanted avalanches to be included as an inherent risk, the legislature would have placed it in the statute when enacted, or anytime it has been modified since enactment.

So Now What?

Under the CSSA, an inbound movement of snow, an avalanche is an inherent risk of skiing and as such, a skier injured or killed by such snow assumes the risk of the injury.

The decision also provides some insight into how the court may interpret the risks of skiing in the future. In general, the CSSA is to be interpreted broadly. Skiing is a risky sport, and the CSSA was enacted to promote skiing and to identify, in advance the risk a skier must assume in Colorado.

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Question answered; Colorado Premises Liability Act supersedes Colorado Ski Area Safety act. Standard of care owed skiers on chairlift’s reasonable man standard?

Two decisions, if allowed to stand, will change the ski industry immensely. The standard of care owed to a passenger on a chairlift will drop considerably and allow ski areas a defense for the first time. At the same time, it should eliminate lawsuits by people who haven’t or should not be on a chairlift to begin with.

Brigance v. Vail Summit Resorts, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31662

State: Colorado; United States District Court for the District of Colorado

Plaintiff: Teresa Brigance

Defendant: Vail Summit Resorts, Inc.

Plaintiff Claims: for (1) negligence, (2) negligence per se, (3) negligent supervision/training, (4) negligence (respondeat superior), (5) negligent hiring, and (6) premises liability pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-21-115

Defendant Defenses: Colorado Premises Liability Act

Holding: for Defendant in dismissing some of the plaintiff’s claims

Year: 2016

This is another decision in a case that is probably still on going. The decision is a response to motions, there could still be a trial and appeal of all of the issues examined here.

Vail, owner of Keystone Ski Area where this accident occurred was sued for an injury a skier received getting off the lift. The plaintiff was taking a lesson from an instructor, an employee of the ski area. She was instructed on how to load and unload the lift. (I’m guessing she was a beginner based on this statement.) While unloading from the lift the back of her ski boots became wedged under the lip of the chair resulting in an injury to the plaintiff.

(That happens all the time loading a chair lift to me. My boots are high in the back, and a lot of chairs catch them. I can get money for that? I should ski every day and quit this job. Wait, this job doesn’t pay at all!)

The plaintiff sued. Vail filed a motion to dismiss the parts of the complaint and amended complaint of the plaintiff.

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

The court first looked at Vail’s argument the negligence and negligence per se claims should be dismissed. The court defined a negligence per se claim differentiating it from a negligence claim.

In contrast to negligence, negligence per se occurs when a defendant violates a statute adopted for the public’s safety and the violation proximately causes the plaintiff’s injury.” Plaintiff must also show that the statute was intended to protect against the type of injury the plaintiff suffered and that the plaintiff is a member of the group of persons the statute was intended to protect. If those requirements are met, “then the statute conclusively establishes the defendant’s standard of care and violation of the statute is a breach of [defendant’s] duty.”

Negligence per se occurs when the defendant violates a statute that the defendant was required to follow and the statute was intended to protect the person or the public from injury.

Vail’s argument was the complaint did not identify a specific statute that was violated. The complaint referred to the Colorado Skier Safety Act and the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Act, but not a particular part of either act that was violated.

The Colorado Skier Safety Act and the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Act both allow for negligence per se claims.

Under the Skier Safety Act, “a violation by a ski area operator of any requirement of this article or any rule or regulation promulgated by the passenger tramway safety board pursuant to section 25-5-704(1)(a), C.R.S., shall, to the extent such violation causes injury to any person or damage to property, constitute negligence on the part of such operator.

However, the plaintiff failed to identify the specific part of the statute that was violated by the defendant. Even if an act was identified, the violation of the act must be clearly established by the plaintiff.

Nevertheless, this language does not provide a statutory standard of care which is adequate to support Plaintiff’s claim for negligence per se. This Court has previously held that a claim for negligence per se requires a statute, “the violation of which can be clearly established. In other words, the relevant statute needs to prescribe or proscribe some relatively discrete action.

The negligence per se claims were dismissed because the plaintiff failed to identify the specific act and the specific injury the act was created to prevent.

The next issue was the application of the Colorado Premises Liability Act to the facts. The defendant Vail had argued in an earlier decision (See Colorado Premises Liability Act eliminated common law claims of negligence as well as CO Ski Area Safety Act claims against a landowner.) that the Premises Liability Act preempted the Colorado Skier Safety Act. The same argument was being made here.

The Colorado Premises Liability Act contains the following provision.

In any civil action brought against a landowner by a person who alleges injury occurring while on the real property of another and by reason of the condition of such property, or activities conducted or circumstances existing on such property, the landowner shall be liable only as provided in subsection (3) of this section.

This provision was further supported in an earlier Colorado Supreme Court decision, Vigil v. Franklin, which held the Premises Liability Act preempted all other types and forms of liability of a landowner. “Ultimately, the Court held that the Premises Liability Act “abrogate[s] the common law with respect to landowner duties.

The common law negligence claim no longer exists against a landowner, is it now a Premises Liability Act claim. This was supported earlier in the Raup decision, (See Colorado Premises Liability Act eliminated common law claims of negligence as well as CO Ski Area Safety Act claims against a landowner.) “…holding that when a common law negligence claim is founded on negligent maintenance of a ski area, such a claim is within the scope of the Premises Liability Act and must be dismissed.”

In this case, the incident occurred on land of the defendant.

Claim One is a common law negligence claim. Plaintiff also alleges that her injury occurred while on the property of Defendant, the admitted landowner. Therefore, the claim would be preempted by the Premises Liability Act if the alleged injury occurred “by reason of the condition of such property, or activities conducted or circumstances existing on such property.”

The plaintiff argued that a negligence claim survives because of the Defendant’s failure to “maintain a proper distance between the chair and the ground at the unloading point, and/or [failure] to property operate and/or maintain the chair lift.”

However, the court found the plaintiff’s argument actually proved the issue. The incident occurred on the ground.

The alleged failures to maintain the conditions of the property clearly fall under the Premises Liability Act. Furthermore, failing to properly operate the chair lift is an “activity conducted” on the property that also falls under the Premises Liability Act.

The court went further to state the operation of the chair lift occurs on the land, is conducted on the ground that is the Defendants thus it is controlled by the Premises Liability Act.

Consequently, the plaintiff’s negligence claims were against a landowner and were preempted by the Colorado Premises Liability Act.

The final issue before the court was the defendant’s arguments that the claims against the individuals, the liftie and the ski instructor were duplicative in that as employees of the defendant, if proven the defendant was liable anyway. So those claims were the same as the other claims against the defendant Vail and should be dismissed. The court agreed.

So Now What?

The result is that instead of owing a skier on a chair lift the highest degree of care, that of a common carrier, the ski area owes a degree of care set forth to an invitee of a landowner.

13-21-115. Actions against landowners

(3)(c) (I) Except as otherwise provided in subparagraph (II) of this paragraph (c), an invitee may recover for damages caused by the landowner’s unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care to protect against dangers of which he actually knew or should have known.

That degree of care is the unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care to protect against dangers which the landowner knew about or should have known about. This standard of care is significantly lower than that of a common carrier.

Again, this case is not over so the results could change!

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Colorado Premises Liability act eliminated common law claims of negligence as well as CO Ski Area Safety Act claims against a landowner.

Case is a major change in the liability of a ski area to the skiers and boarders who ride any lift in Colorado.

Raup, v. Vail Summit Resorts, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11499

State: Colorado, United States District Court for the District of Colorado

Plaintiff: Carolyn S. Raup

Defendant: Vail Summit Resorts, Inc.

Plaintiff Claims: Premises Liability Act, and for negligence, including negligence per se

Defendant Defenses: The negligence claims are Colorado Premises Liability Act

Holding: for the Defendant

Year: 2016

This case may be ongoing the decision may not be final. However, the ruling is game changing and changes a large section of the law in Colorado.

The plaintiff was riding a chairlift at one of the defendants Vail resorts during the summer. The Colorado Tramway Act requires lifts operated during the summer to have a comfort bar available to riders. As the plaintiff and two other riders were approaching the top terminal, they had intended to ride the lift back down.

The liftie (top terminal lift employee), ran out and started yelling at the rides to raise the safety bar and exit the lift.

The plaintiff and friends did not understand or know that riding around the terminal would trigger the emergency stop. The riders also did not know that the download capacity of a lift is very different from the upload capacity of the lift. Many times that download capacity is 25 to 33% of the upload capacity. That means instead of loading every chair downhill you may only be allowed to load every third or fourth chair.

The other two riders were able to exit the lift running down the exit ramp. The plaintiff fell suffering severe injuries. The plaintiff brought this suit in the Federal District Court of Colorado. Vail moved to dismiss the claims of negligence and negligence per se brought by the plaintiff.

The court granted Vail’s motion with the following analysis.

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

The court first looked at the requirements for the plaintiff to survive a motion to dismiss under Colorado law.

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the party asserting the claim “must allege that ‘enough factual matter, taken as true, [makes] his claim for relief … plausible on its face.'” (quotation and internal quotation marks omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility when the [pleaded] factual content [ ] allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.’

Thus, a party asserting a claim “must include enough facts to ‘nudge[] h[er] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.

A motion to dismiss is filed normally before the defendant has filed an answer to the complaint. The motion is filed when their allegations in the complaint are not supported by the law or misstate the law. The court rarely grants these motions because as started above, there must be just a plausible claim to survive.

In this case, the issue was the claims of the plaintiff were not available under the law. Meaning the law did not allow the plaintiff to make those types of claims against a defendant.

In this case, the Colorado Premises Liability Act, the act which controls the liability of a landowner to people on his land, was the only way the plaintiff could sue. More importantly, did the Colorado Premises Liability Act preclude not only common law claims (negligence) against a landowner but also claims brought under the Colorado Skier Safety Act based on a ski area being the landowner.

An earlier interpretation by the Colorado Supreme Court in two different cases preempted the common law claims. “

I agree with Vail that the Vigil and Lombard cases make clear that all common law claims involving landowner duties, including negligence and negligence per se claims, are abrogated by the Premises Liability Act which provides the exclusive remedy.

The plaintiff argued the Colorado Tramway Act still allowed negligence claims. The act was  interpreted by a Supreme Court Decision in Bayer v. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Inc., 960 P.2d 70, 80 (Colo. 1998), which held the ski area owed the highest degree of care to a rider on a chair lift, that of a common carrier.

However, the court found that Bayer had preempted by the Vigil act quoted above.

Six years after Bayer, the Colorado Supreme Court in Vigil made clear that the Premises Liability Act preempted all common law claims and provided the sole method of recovering against a landowner. Vigil, 103 P.3d at 328. The fact that Vigil did not reference Bayer does not change this result.

The plaintiff then argued the acts of the leftie were negligent and created a separate claim for negligence. However, again, the court found the actions were covered by the Premises Liability Act.

Vail’s duty of care to invitees such as Plaintiff is defined under the Premises Liability Act, which makes clear that it applies in actions by a person who alleges injury while on the property of another and by reasons of either the condition of the property or activities conducted on the property. This encompasses the allegations at issue in this case, including the injuries allegedly sustained by Plaintiff by activities of Vail’s employee in ordering Plaintiff and her fellow passengers to disembark from the chairlift. As such, the Premises Liability Act provides the only standard for recovery.

The court granted Vail’s motion to dismiss and dismissed the plaintiff’s negligence claims leaving only the premises liability claims.

So Now What?

Does this mean there is now a lower duty owed to riders of chairlifts in Colorado because they are classified as invitees under the Colorado Premises Liability Act? I don’t know.

However, it is clear; the Colorado Premises Liability Act supersedes all other recreational specific statutes that then limits the recovery against most recreation providers due to injuries on the land (or waters?).

REMEMBER, THIS CASE IS NOT OVER AND HAS NOT BEEN APPEALED. THE DECISION REVIEWED HERE COULD CHANGE.

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Brigance v. Vail Summit Resorts, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31662

Brigance v. Vail Summit Resorts, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31662

Teresa Brigance, Plaintiff, v. Vail Summit Resorts, Inc., Defendant.

Civil Action No. 15-cv-1394-WJM-NYW

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO

2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31662

March 11, 2016, Decided

March 11, 2016, Filed

COUNSEL: [*1] For Teresa Brigance, Plaintiff: Trenton Jeffrey Ongert, Bloch & Chapleau, LLC, Denver, CO.

For Vail Summit Resorts, Inc., Defendant: Edward Timothy Walker, Samuel Nathan Shapiro, Vail Resorts Management Company, Legal Department, Broomfield, CO.

JUDGES: William J. Martínez, United States District Judge.

OPINION BY: William J. Martínez

OPINION

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT’S PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS AMENDED COMPLAINT

Plaintiff Teresa Brigance (“Plaintiff”) brings this action against Defendant Vail Summit Resorts, Inc. (“Defendant”). This matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (“Motion”) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 17.) Defendant filed the Motion on August 28, 2015. (Id.) On September 25, 2015, Plaintiff filed her Response to the Motion. (ECF No. 27.) Defendant filed its Reply on October 13, 2015. (ECF No. 31.) For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Rule 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a claim in a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” The 12(b)(6) standard requires the Court to “assume the truth of the plaintiff’s well-pleaded factual allegations and view them [*2] in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Ridge at Red Hawk, LLC v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007). In ruling on such a motion, the dispositive inquiry is “whether the complaint contains ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007)). “Thus, ‘a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

II. BACKGROUND

The following allegations are taken from Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint (“Complaint”). (ECF No. 6.) The Court assumes these allegations to be true for purposes of this motion.

On March 23, 2015, Plaintiff visited the Keystone ski area, which is owned and operated by Defendant. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff participated in a ski lesson which was taught by Megan McKinney, an employee of Defendant. (Id. ¶ 6.) Ms. McKinney instructed Plaintiff on the procedures for getting on and off the chair lift. (Id. ¶ 7.) The chair lift was operated by an unknown chair lift operator who was also an employee of Defendant and whom the Court will refer to as John Doe. (Id. ¶ 26.) While unloading from the chair lift, Plaintiff’s ski boot became wedged between the chair and the ground at the [*3] unloading area, causing injury to Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 8.)

Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on June 30, 2015. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint on July 27, 2015. (ECF No. 6.) Plaintiff asserted numerous claims arising out of events related to the chair lift incident. (See id.) Plaintiff asserts claims for (1) negligence, (2) negligence per se, (3) negligent supervision/training, (4) negligence (respondeat superior), (5) negligent hiring, and (6) premises liability pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-21-115. (See id.)

III. ANALYSIS

Defendant, through its Motion, moves to dismiss all of Plaintiff’s claims except for the premises liability claim. (ECF No. 17.) Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s claim for negligence per se (Claim Two) should be dismissed for failure to state a claim. (Id. at 4.) Defendant further contends that Plaintiff’s claims for negligence (Claim One) and negligence per se should be dismissed as they are preempted by the Premises Liability Act. (Id. at 2.) Lastly, Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s claims for negligent supervision/training, negligence (respondeat superior), and negligent hiring should be dismissed as duplicative. (Id. at 6.) The Court will discuss these arguments in turn.

A. Negligence Per Se

[*4] Defendant argues that Plaintiff fails to state a claim for negligence per se. (ECF No. 17 at 4.) “In contrast to negligence, negligence per se occurs when a defendant violates a statute adopted for the public’s safety and the violation proximately causes the plaintiff’s injury.” Scott v. Matlack, Inc., 39 P.3d 1160, 1166 (Colo. 2002). Plaintiff must also show that the statute was intended to protect against the type of injury the plaintiff suffered and that the plaintiff is a member of the group of persons the statute was intended to protect. Id. If those requirements are met, “then the statute conclusively establishes the defendant’s standard of care and violation of the statute is a breach of [defendant’s] duty.” Id.

In its Motion, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint fails to identify any statutory standard of care that has been violated. (ECF No. 17 at 4.) Plaintiff identifies two statutes as the basis of her negligence per se claim: the Skier Safety Act and the Passenger Tramway Safety Act. (ECF No. 6 ¶¶ 18-19.)

As to the Skier Safety Act, certain violations of that Act do constitute negligence per se. See Stamp v. Vail Corp., 172 P.3d 437, 443 (Colo. 2007). Under the Skier Safety Act, “a violation by a ski area operator of any requirement of this article or any rule or regulation promulgated by the passenger tramway safety board pursuant to section 25-5-704(1)(a), C.R.S., shall, to the extent such violation causes injury to any person or damage to property, constitute negligence on the part of such operator.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 33-44-104(2). However, Plaintiff fails to identify any requirement of that article–the Skier Safety Act–which has been violated. Instead, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated § 25-5-706(3)(d)–(e) of the Passenger Tramway Safety Act.1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 25-5-706(3)(d)–(e). (See also ECF No. 6 ¶¶ 18, 20-21.) Section 25-5-706(3)(d)–(e) identifies certain situations in which the passenger tramway safety board may take disciplinary action. However, § 25-5-706(3)(d)–(e) is not a [*5] rule or regulation promulgated by the passenger tramway safety board and therefore Plaintiff does not properly state a claim for negligence per se under the Skier Safety Act.

1 Plaintiff identifies this language as coming from § 25-5-706(2)(d)–(e). However, it is clear that Plaintiff is actually referring to § 25-5-706(3)(d)–(e), since the language Plaintiff quotes is from that subsection of the statute.

In its response to the Motion, Plaintiff argues that the Passenger Tramway Safety Act provides a statutory standard of care independent of the Skier Safety Act. Specifically, Plaintiff stresses that § 25-5-706(3)(d)–(e) allows for disciplinary action to be taken if there is either “[w]illful or wanton misconduct in the operation or maintenance of a passenger tramway” or “[o]peration of a passenger tramway while a condition exists in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the passenger tramway which endangers the public health, safety, or welfare, which condition was known, or reasonably should have been known, by the area operator.”

Nevertheless, this language does not provide a statutory standard of care which is adequate to support Plaintiff’s claim for negligence per se. This Court has previously held that a claim for negligence per se requires a [*6] statute, “the violation of which can be clearly established.” Hendrickson v. Doyle, F. Supp. 3d , , 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166362, 2015 WL 8533769, at *5 (D. Colo. Dec. 11, 2015). “In other words, the relevant statute needs to prescribe or proscribe some relatively discrete action.” Id. The language of § 25-5-706(3)(d) proscribes willful or wanton misconduct and § 25-5-706(3)(e) proscribes something akin to negligent conduct. This is not statutory language prescribing or proscribing some discrete action (e.g., all chairs must be two feet removed from the ground at the unloading area). Therefore, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for negligence per se. The Court grants the Motion as to Claim Two and dismisses Claim Two without prejudice.

B. Premises Liability Act Preemption

The Colorado Premises Liability Act contains the following provision:

In any civil action brought against a landowner by a person who alleges injury occurring while on the real property of another and by reason of the condition of such property, or activities conducted or circumstances existing on such property, the landowner shall be liable only as provided in subsection (3) of this section.

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-115(2). Defendant does not dispute that it meets the statutory definition of a “landowner”. (ECF No. 17 at n.1.) Based on its status as a landowner and the language of [*7] § 13-21-115(2), Defendant asserts that it can only be found liable, if at all, under the Premises Liability Act. (Id. at 4.) Therefore, Defendant argues that Claims One and Two are preempted and must be dismissed. (Id. at 3-4.)

To support its argument, Defendant cites the Colorado Supreme Court in Vigil v. Franklin, 103 P.3d 322 (Colo. 2004). In that case, the court held that the language of § 13-21-115(2) was “specific in its terms and without ambiguity,” and demonstrated that the General Assembly intended “to completely occupy the field and supercede existing law in the area” of premises liability. Vigil, 103 P.3d at 328. Furthermore, “[t]his language, coupled with the precisely drawn landowner duties in subsection (3), leaves no room for application of common law tort duties.” Id. Ultimately, the Court held that the Premises Liability Act “abrogate[s] the common law with respect to landowner duties.” Id. at 330.

This Court has interpreted the Colorado Supreme Court’s opinion in Vigil and has held that “all common law claims involving landowner duties, including negligence . . . are abrogated by the Premises Liability Act which provides the exclusive remedy.” Raup v. Vail Summit Resorts, Inc., F. Supp. 3d , , 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11499, 2016 WL 374463, at *3 (D. Colo. Feb. 1, 2016); see also Giebink v. Fischer, 709 F. Supp. 1012, 1017 (D. Colo. 1989) (holding that when a common law negligence claim is founded on negligent maintenance of a ski area, such a claim is within the scope of the Premises Liability Act [*8] and must be dismissed).

Claim One is a common law negligence claim. (See ECF No. 6.) Plaintiff also alleges that her injury occurred while on the property of Defendant, the admitted landowner. (Id.) Therefore, the claim would be preempted by the Premises Liability Act if the alleged injury occurred “by reason of the condition of such property, or activities conducted or circumstances existing on such property.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-115(2).

Plaintiff alleges in Claim One that her injury occurred due to Defendant’s failure “to maintain a proper distance between the chair and the ground at the unloading point, and/or [failure] to property operate and/or maintain the chair lift.” (ECF No. 6 ¶ 15.) The alleged failures to maintain the conditions of the property clearly fall under the Premises Liability Act. Furthermore, failing to properly operate the chair lift is an “activity conducted” on the property that also falls under the Premises Liability Act. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-115(2); see also Raup, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11499, 2016 WL 374463, at *4 (holding that the affirmative actions of a chair lift operator, in directing passengers to exit the lift, qualified as activity conducted on the property for the purposes of the Premises Liability Act).

The Court thus has little difficulty in concluding [*9] that Plaintiff’s common law negligence claim is preempted by the Premises Liability Act. Accordingly, the Court grants the Motion as to Claim One and dismisses Claim One with prejudice. Since the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim for negligence per se in the previous section, the Court need not discuss, let alone decide, whether that claim should also be dismissed based on Defendant’s preemption argument.2

2 Defendant does not argue that Claims Three, Four, and Five are preempted by the Premises Liability Act. Therefore, the Court will also not address that issue.

C. Imputed Liability Claims

Defendant admits that both Megan McKinney and chair lift operator John Doe were employees of Defendant. (ECF No. 17 at 7.) Defendant further admits that both were acting within the scope of their employment at the time of Plaintiff’s incident. (Id.) As such, Defendant admits that it is liable under the theory of respondeat superior for whatever negligent acts or omissions of those two employees, if any, caused Plaintiff’s injuries. (See id.)

Defendant argues that, because it is vicariously liable for the employees’ negligent acts, claims based on other theories of imputed liability–Claims Three and Five–are [*10] duplicative and should be dismissed.3 (Id. at 7-8.) Defendant cites two trial court decisions from Colorado state court in which those courts dismissed claims based on theories of imputed liability that they found to be duplicative. (See id.) However, Defendant provides no state appellate precedential support for its position. (See id.)

3 In the heading for its third argument in the Motion, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff’s fourth claim for negligence (respondeat superior) should also be dismissed. (ECF No. 17 at 6, 8.) However, Defendant, in its discussion, does not argue that Claim Four should be dismissed. (Id. at 6-8.) Defendant’s argument in that section is limited to arguing that Claims Three and Five should be dismissed because they are duplicative of Claim Four. (See id.)

Moreover, Defendant fails to acknowledge that “[p]laintiffs may seek duplicative relief under federal and state statutes and common [law].” Big Cats of Serenity Springs, Inc. v. Vilsack, 84 F. Supp. 3d 1179, 1198 (D. Colo. 2015). The pursuit of alternative claims for similar relief is expressly permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d)(2) (“A party may set out 2 or more statements of a claim or defense alternatively or hypothetically, either in a single count or defense or in separate ones.”). Plaintiff may not recover [*11] for the same injury under multiple theories of imputed liability, and at some point Plaintiff may have to choose between her theories. However, that is not a reason to dismiss any of Plaintiff’s claims at this stage. Accordingly, the Court denies Defendant’s Motion as to Claims Three, Four, and Five.4

4 In its reply, Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s claim for negligent hiring should also be dismissed on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to plead “what knowledge [Defendant] had or should have had at the time its employees were hired.” (ECF No. 31 at 6.) This argument was not made in the Motion itself and therefore the Court need not and will not consider it.

IV. CONCLUSION

For the reasons set forth above, the Court ORDERS as follows:

1. Defendant’s Partial Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (ECF No. 17) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART;

2. Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED as to Claim One (Negligence) and Claim Two (Negligence Per Se) and DENIED as to all other claims;

3. Claim One of Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint (ECF No. 6) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE; and

4. Claim Two of Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint (ECF No. 6) is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

Dated this 11th day of March, 2016. [*12]

BY THE COURT:

/s/ William J. Martínez

William J. Martínez

United States District Judge


Colorado Passenger Tramway Act

COLORADO REVISED STATUTES

TITLE 25. HEALTH

PRODUCTS CONTROL AND SAFETY

ARTICLE 5.PRODUCTS CONTROL AND SAFETY

PART 7. PASSENGER TRAMWAY SAFETY

25-5-701. Legislative declaration.. 2

25-5-702. Definitions. 2

25-5-703. Passenger tramway safety board – composition – termination.. 4

25-5-703.5. Board subject to termination – repeal of article. (Repealed) 5

25-5-704. Powers and duties of board. 5

25-5-705. Responsibilities of area operators. 6

25-5-706. Disciplinary action – administrative sanctions – grounds. 7

25-5-707. Orders – enforcement 8

25-5-708. Disciplinary proceedings. 8

25-5-709. Passenger tramway licensing required. 9

25-5-710. Application for new construction or major modification.. 9

25-5-711. Application for licensing. 10

25-5-712. Licensing of passenger tramways. 10

25-5-713. Licensing and certification fees. 11

25-5-714. Disposition of fees and fines. 11

25-5-715. Inspections and investigations – costs – reports. 11

25-5-716. Emergency shutdown.. 12

25-5-717. Provisions in lieu of others. 13

25-5-718. Governmental immunity – limitations on liability. 13

25-5-719. Independent contractors – no general immunity. 13

25-5-720. Confidentiality of reports and other materials. 14

25-5-721. Repeal of part 14

 

C.R.S. 25-5-701 (2015)

25-5-701. Legislative declaration

In order to assist in safeguarding life, health, property, and the welfare of this state, it is the policy of the state of Colorado to establish a board empowered to prevent unnecessary mechanical hazards in the operation of passenger tramways and to assure that reasonable design and construction are used for, that accepted safety devices and sufficient personnel are provided for, and that periodic inspections and adjustments are made which are deemed essential to the safe operation of, passenger tramways.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 709, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-1.L. 76: Entire section amended, p. 660, § 1, effective May 27.L. 77: Entire section amended, p. 1288, § 2, effective July 1.L. 83: Entire section amended, p. 1071, § 1, effective May 25.L. 93: Entire section amended, p. 1533, § 3, effective July 1.

Cross references: For agricultural and animal products standards, see title 35; for automotive products standards, see parts 8 and 9 of article 20 of title 8.

ANNOTATION

Law reviews. For article, “Ski Injury Liability”, see 43 U. Colo. L. Rev. 307 (1972). For article, “Changes in Colorado Ski Law”, see 13 Colo. Law. 407 (1984). For article, “The Development of the Standard of Care in Colorado Ski Cases”, see 15 Colo. Law. 373 (1986).

Neither this act nor the Ski Safety Act of 1979 (article 44 of title 33, C.R.S.) preempts or supersedes the common law standard of care applicable to ski lift operators, to use the highest degree of care commensurate with the practical operation of the lift, regardless of the season. The general assembly did not intend for the regulations adopted by the board to preclude common law negligence actions against ski lift operators or the duty to exercise the highest degree of care. Bayer v. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, 960 P.2d 70 (Colo. 1998).

25-5-702. Definitions

As used in this part 7, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) “Area operator” means a person who owns, manages, or directs the operation and maintenance of a passenger tramway. “Area operator” may apply to the state or any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof.

(1.5) “Board” means the passenger tramway safety board created by section 25-5-703.

(1.7) “Commercial recreational area” means an entity using passenger tramways to provide recreational opportunities to the public for a fee.

(2) “Industry” means the activities of all those persons in this state who own, manage, or direct the operation of passenger tramways.

(3) “License” means the formal, legal, written permission of the board to operate a passenger tramway.

(4) “Passenger tramway” means a device used to transport passengers uphill on skis, or in cars on tracks, or suspended in the air by the use of steel cables, chains, or belts, or by ropes, and usually supported by trestles or towers with one or more spans. “Passenger tramway” includes, but is not limited to, the following devices:

(a) Fixed-grip lifts. “Fixed-grip lift” means an aerial lift on which carriers remain attached to a haul rope. The tramway system may be either continuously or intermittently circulating, and may be either monocable or bicable.

(b) Detachable-grip lifts. “Detachable-grip lift” means an aerial lift on which carriers alternately attach to and detach from a moving haul rope. The tramway system may be monocable or bicable.

(c) Funiculars. “Funicular” means a device in which a passenger car running on steel or wooden tracks is attached to and propelled by a steel cable, and any similar devices.

(d) Chair lifts. “Chair lift” means a type of transportation on which passengers are carried on chairs suspended in the air and attached to a moving cable, chain, or link belt supported by trestles or towers with one or more spans, and any similar devices.

(e) Surface lifts. “Surface lift” means a J-bar, T-bar, or platter pull and any similar types of devices or means of transportation which pull skiers riding on skis by means of an attachment to a main overhead cable supported by trestles or towers with one or more spans.

(f) Rope tows. “Rope tow” means a type of transportation which pulls the skier riding on skis as the skier grasps the rope manually, and any similar devices.

(g) Portable aerial tramway devices. “Portable aerial tramway device” means any device designed for temporary use and operation, without permanent foundations, in changing or variable locations, with a capacity of less than five persons, which transports equipment or personnel, and is not used or intended to be used by the general public.

(h) Portable tramway devices. “Portable tramway device” means any device designed to be used and operated as a rope tow or surface lift without permanent foundations and intended for temporary use in changing or variable locations, when used within the boundary of a recognized ski area.

(i) Private residence tramways. “Private residence tramway” means a device installed at a private residence or installed in multiple dwellings as a means of access to a private residence in such multiple dwelling buildings, so long as the tramway is so installed that it is not accessible to the general public or to other occupants of the building.

(j) Reversible aerial tramways. “Reversible aerial tramway” means a device on which passengers are transported in cable-supported carriers and are not in contact with the ground or snow surface, and in which the carriers reciprocate between terminals.

(k) Conveyors. “Conveyor” means a type of transportation by which skiers, or passengers on recreational devices, are transported uphill on top of a flexible, moving element such as a belt or a series of rollers.

(4.5) “Program administrator” means the person who manages the board’s offices on a day-to-day basis and works with the supervisory tramway engineer and the board in implementing the policies, decisions, and orders of the board.

(5) “Qualified tramway design engineer” or “qualified tramway construction engineer” means an engineer licensed by the state board of licensure for architects, professional engineers, and professional land surveyors pursuant to part 1 of article 25 of title 12, C.R.S., to practice professional engineering in this state.

(6) “Staff” means the program administrator, the supervisory tramway engineer, and their clerical staff.

(7) “Supervisory tramway engineer” means the tramway engineer who works with the program administrator and the board in implementing the policies, decisions, and orders of the board.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 709, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-2.L. 76: (1) and (4)(c) amended and (1.5) and (5) added, p. 661, § 2, effective May 27.L. 83: (5) amended, p. 1072, § 2, effective May 25.L. 93: (1), (3), and (4) amended and (1.7), (4.5), (6), and (7) added, p. 1533, § 4, effective July 1.L. 2001: (4)(k) added, p. 118, § 3, effective July 1.L. 2004: (5) amended, p. 1311, § 57, effective May 28.L. 2006: (5) amended, p. 743, § 11, effective July 1.

25-5-703. Passenger tramway safety board – composition – termination

(1) There is hereby created a passenger tramway safety board of six appointive members and one member designated by the United States forest service. The appointive members shall be appointed by the governor from persons representing the following interests: Two members to represent the industry or area operators; two members to represent the public at large; one member who is a licensed professional engineer not employed by a ski area or related industry; and one member familiar with or experienced in the tramway industry who may represent the passenger tramway manufacturing or design industry or an area operator. No person shall be so appointed or designated except those who, by reason of knowledge or experience, shall be deemed to be qualified. Such knowledge or experience shall be either from active and relevant involvement in the design, manufacture, or operation of passenger tramways or as a result of extensive and relevant involvement in related activities. The governor, in making such appointments, shall consider recommendations made to him or her by the membership of the particular interest from which the appointments are to be made.

(2) Each of the appointed members shall be appointed for a term of four years and until a successor is appointed and qualified and no board member shall serve more than two consecutive four-year terms. A former board member may be reappointed to the board after having vacated the board for one four-year term. Vacancies on the board, for either an unexpired term or for a new term, shall be filled through prompt appointment by the governor. The member of the board designated by the United States forest service shall serve for such period as such federal agency shall determine and shall serve without compensation or reimbursement of expenses.

(3) The governor may remove any member of the board for misconduct, incompetence, or neglect of duty.

(4) Board members appointed by the governor shall have been residents of this state for at least three years.

(5) No member of the board who has any form of conflict of interest or the potential thereof shall participate in consideration of the deliberations on matters to which such conflict may relate; such conflicts may include, but are not limited to, a member of the board having acted in any consulting relationship or being directly or indirectly involved in the operation of the tramway in question.

(6) A majority of the board shall constitute a quorum. When necessary, the board may conduct business telephonically during a public meeting for purposes of obtaining a quorum, facilitating the participation of members in remote locations, or both.

(7) The provisions of section 24-34-104, C.R.S., concerning the termination schedule for regulatory bodies of the state unless extended as provided in that section, are applicable to the passenger tramway safety board created by this section.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 711, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-3.L. 76: Entire section amended, p. 661, § 3, effective May 27.L. 77: Entire section amended, p. 1289, § 3, effective July 1.L. 93: Entire section amended, p. 1535, § 5, effective July 1.L. 2001: (1) amended, p. 119, § 4, effective July 1.L. 2008: (1) amended, p. 369, § 4, effective July 1.

ANNOTATION

Law reviews. For article, “Ski Injury Liability”, see 43 U. Colo. L. Rev. 307 (1972).

25-5-703.5. Board subject to termination – repeal of article. (Repealed)

HISTORY: Source: L. 76: Entire section added, p. 627, § 39, effective July 1.L. 91: Entire section amended, p. 688, § 56, effective April 20.L. 93: Entire section repealed, p. 1536, § 6, effective July 1.

25-5-704. Powers and duties of board

(1) The board has the following powers and duties in addition to those otherwise described by this part 7:

(a) To promulgate, amend, and repeal such rules as may be necessary and proper to carry out the provisions of this article. In adopting such rules, the board may use as general guidelines the standards contained in the “American National Standard for Passenger Ropeways – Aerial Tramways and Aerial Lifts, Surface Lifts, Tows, and Conveyors – Safety Requirements”, as adopted by the American national standards institute, incorporated, as amended from time to time. Such rules shall not be discriminatory in their application to area operators and procedures of the board with respect thereto shall be as provided in section 24-4-103, C.R.S., with respect to rule-making.

(b) To investigate matters relating to the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of the board;

(c) To receive complaints concerning violations of this part 7;

(d) To conduct meetings, hold hearings, and take evidence in all matters relating to the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of the board, subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and compel the testimony of witnesses and the production of books, papers, and records relevant to the subject inquiry. The program administrator may issue subpoenas on behalf of the board at the board’s direction. If any person refuses to obey any subpoena so issued, the board may petition the district court, setting forth the facts, and thereupon the court in a proper case shall issue its subpoena. The board may appoint an administrative law judge pursuant to part 10 of article 30 of title 24, C.R.S., to take evidence and to make findings and report them to the board. The board may elect to hear the matter itself with the assistance of an administrative law judge, who shall rule on the evidence and otherwise conduct the hearing in accordance with the “State Administrative Procedure Act”, article 4 of title 24, C.R.S.

(e) To discipline area operators in accordance with this part 7;

(f) To approve and renew licenses in accordance with this part 7;

(g) To elect officers;

(h) To establish standing or temporary technical and safety committees composed of persons with expertise in tramway-related fields to review, as the board deems necessary, the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of passenger tramways and to make recommendations to the board concerning their findings. Committees established pursuant to this paragraph (h) shall meet as deemed necessary by the board or the supervisory tramway engineer.

(i) To collect fees, established pursuant to section 24-34-105, C.R.S., for any application for a new construction or major modification, for any application for licensing, and for inspection and accident investigations;

(j) To cause the prosecution and enjoinder of all persons violating such provisions and to incur the necessary expenses thereof;

(k) To delegate duties to the program administrator;

(l) To keep records of its proceedings and of all applications.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 711, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-4.L. 77: Entire section amended, p. 1289, § 4, effective July 1.L. 79: Entire section amended, p. 912, § 15, effective July 1.L. 93: Entire section amended, p. 1536, § 7, effective July 1.L. 2001: (1)(a) and (1)(i) amended, p. 119, § 5, effective July 1.

25-5-705. Responsibilities of area operators

The primary responsibility for design, construction, maintenance, operation, and inspection rests with the area operators of passenger tramway devices.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 711, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-5.L. 76: Entire section amended, p. 661, § 4, effective May 27.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1538, § 8, effective July 1.

25-5-706. Disciplinary action – administrative sanctions – grounds

(1) Disciplinary action of the board pursuant to this section shall be taken in accordance with the “State Administrative Procedure Act”, article 4 of title 24, C.R.S.

(2) Disciplinary action of the board may be imposed as an alternative to or in conjunction with the issuance of orders or the pursuit of other remedies provided by section 25-5-707 or 25-5-716, and may consist of any of the following:

(a) Denial, suspension, revocation, or refusal to renew the license of any passenger tramway. The board may summarily suspend a license pursuant to the authority granted by this part 7 or article 4 of title 24, C.R.S.

(b) (I) When a complaint or investigation discloses an instance of misconduct that, in the opinion of the board, does not warrant formal action by the board but that should not be dismissed as being without merit, issuance and sending of a letter of admonition, by certified mail, to the area operator.

(II) When a letter of admonition is sent by the board, by certified mail, to an area operator such area operator shall be advised that he or she has the right to request in writing, within twenty days after receipt of the letter, that formal disciplinary proceedings be initiated to adjudicate the propriety of the conduct upon which the letter of admonition is based.

(III) If the request for adjudication is timely made, the letter of admonition shall be deemed vacated and the matter shall be processed by means of formal disciplinary proceedings.

(c) Assessment of a fine, not to exceed ten thousand dollars per act or omission or, in the case of acts or omissions found to be willful, fifty thousand dollars per act or omission, against any area operator;

(d) Imposition of reasonable conditions upon the continued licensing of a passenger tramway or upon the suspension of further disciplinary action against an area operator.

(3) The board may take disciplinary action for any of the following acts or omissions:

(a) Any violation of the provisions of this part 7 or of any rule or regulation of the board promulgated pursuant to section 25-5-704 when the act or omission upon which the violation is based was known to, or reasonably should have been known to, the area operator;

(b) Violation of any order of the board issued pursuant to provisions of this part 7;

(c) Failure to report any incident or accident to the board as required by any provision of this part 7 or any rule or regulation of the board promulgated pursuant to section 25-5-704 when the incident or accident was known to, or reasonably should have been known to, the area operator;

(d) Willful or wanton misconduct in the operation or maintenance of a passenger tramway;

(e) Operation of a passenger tramway while a condition exists in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the passenger tramway which endangers the public health, safety, or welfare, which condition was known, or reasonably should have been known, by the area operator;

(f) Operation of a passenger tramway by an operator whose license has been suspended;

(g) Failure to comply with an order issued under section 25-5-707 or 25-5-716.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 711, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-6.L. 86: Entire section amended, p. 974, § 1, effective April 3.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1538, § 8, effective July 1.L. 2004: (2)(b) amended, p. 1863, § 123, effective August 4.L. 2006: (3)(f) and (3)(g) added, p. 96, § 64, effective August 7.

25-5-707. Orders – enforcement

(1) If, after investigation, the board finds that a violation of any of its rules or regulations exists or that there is a condition in passenger tramway design, construction, operation, or maintenance endangering the safety of the public, it shall forthwith issue its written order setting forth its findings and the corrective action to be taken and fixing a reasonable time for compliance therewith. Such order shall be served upon the area operator involved in accordance with the Colorado rules of civil procedure or the “State Administrative Procedure Act”, article 4 of title 24, C.R.S., and shall become final unless the area operator applies to the board for a hearing in the manner provided in section 24-4-105, C.R.S.

(2) If any area operator fails to comply with a lawful order of the board issued under this section within the time fixed thereby, the board may take further action as permitted by sections 25-5-706 and 25-5-716 and may commence an action seeking injunctive relief in the district court of the judicial district in which the relevant passenger tramway is located.

(3) Any person who violates an order issued pursuant to this section shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars for each day during which such violation occurs.

(4) Any area operator who operates a passenger tramway which has not been licensed by the board or the license of which has been suspended, or who fails to comply with an order issued under this section or section 25-5-716, commits a class 3 misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in section 18-1.3-501, C.R.S. Fines collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the general fund of the state.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 711, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-7.L. 86: (3) and (4) amended, p. 974, § 2, effective April 3.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1539, § 8, effective July 1.L. 2002: (4) amended, p. 1537, § 268, effective October 1.

25-5-708. Disciplinary proceedings

(1) The board may investigate all matters which present grounds for disciplinary action as specified in this part 7.

(2) Disciplinary hearings shall be conducted by the board or by an administrative law judge in accordance with section 25-5-704 (1) (d).

(3) Any person aggrieved by a final action or order of the board may appeal such action to the Colorado court of appeals in accordance with section 24-4-106 (11), C.R.S.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 712, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-8.L. 67: p. 200, § 1.L. 76: (1) amended and (2) added, p. 662, § 6, effective May 27.L. 77: (1) amended, p. 1290, § 6, effective July 1.L. 79: Entire section R&RE, p. 1661, § 120, effective July 19.L. 83: (2) repealed, p. 1073, § 6, effective May 25.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1540, § 8, effective July 1.

25-5-709. Passenger tramway licensing required

(1) The state, through the board, shall license all passenger tramways, unless specifically exempted by law, establish reasonable standards of design and operational practices, and cause to be made such inspections as may be necessary in carrying out the provisions of this section.

(2) A passenger tramway shall not be operated in this state unless it has been licensed by the board. No new passenger tramway shall be initially licensed in this state unless its design and construction have been certified to this state as complying with the rules and regulations of the board promulgated pursuant to section 25-5-704. Such certification shall be made by a qualified tramway design engineer or a qualified tramway construction engineer, whichever the case requires.

(3) The board shall have no jurisdiction over the construction of a new private residence tramway or over any modifications to an existing private residence tramway when such tramway is not used, or intended to be used, by the general public.

(4) The board shall have no jurisdiction over a portable aerial tramway device.

(5) The board shall have no jurisdiction over a portable tramway device when such tramway device is not used, or intended to be used, by the general public.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 712, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-9.L. 73: p. 1373, § 29.L. 79: Entire section amended, p. 1661, § 121, effective July 19.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1540, § 8, effective July 1.L. 2001: (3) and (5) amended, p. 119, § 6, effective July 1.

25-5-710. Application for new construction or major modification

Any new construction of a passenger tramway or any major modification to an existing installation shall not be initiated unless an application for such construction or major modification has been made to the board and a permit therefor has been issued by the board.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 712, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-10.L. 67: p. 200, § 2;L. 76: (1)(f) amended and (1)(g) added, p. 662, § 7, effective May 27;L. 77: (1)(b) amended, p. 308, § 14, effective June 10; (1)(h), (1)(i), and (2) added, p. 1290, § § 8, 7, effective July 1.L. 79: (1)(i) amended, p. 1661, § 122, effective July 19;L. 83: (1)(f) amended and (1)(g) repealed, pp. 1072, 1073, § § 5, 6, effective May 25;L. 86: (1)(a) to (1)(c) amended, p. 975, § 3, effective April 3.L. 87: (1)(b) amended, p. 971, § 83, effective March 13.L. 88: (1)(h) amended, p. 317, § 11, effective April 14.L. 91: (1)(a) amended, p. 1917, § 40, effective June 1.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1540, § 8, effective July 1.

ANNOTATION

Law reviews. For note, “Exculpatory Clauses and Public Policy: A Judicial Dilemma”, see 53 U. Colo. L. Rev. 793 (1982).

25-5-711. Application for licensing

Each year, every area operator of a passenger tramway shall apply to the board, in such form as the board shall designate, for licensing of the passenger tramways which such area operator owns or manages or the operation of which such area operator directs. The application shall contain such information as the board may reasonably require in order for it to determine whether the passenger tramway sought to be licensed by such area operator complies with the intent of this part 7 as specified in section 25-5-701 and the rules and regulations promulgated by the board pursuant to section 25-5-704.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 713, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-11.L. 77: Entire section amended, p. 637, § 5, effective July 1; entire section amended, p. 1291, § 9, effective July 1.L. 86: Entire section amended, p. 975, § 4, effective April 3.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1540, § 8, effective July 1.

25-5-712. Licensing of passenger tramways

(1) The board shall issue to the applying area operator without delay licensing certificates for each passenger tramway owned, managed, or the operation of which is directed by such area operator when the board is satisfied:

(a) That the facts stated in the application are sufficient to enable the board to fulfill its duties under this part 7; and

(b) That each such passenger tramway sought to be licensed has been inspected by an inspector designated by the board according to procedures established by the board and that such inspection disclosed no unreasonable safety hazard and no violations of the provisions of this part 7 or the rules and regulations of the board promulgated pursuant to section 25-5-704.

(2) In order to satisfy itself that the conditions described in subsection (1) of this section have been fulfilled, the board may cause to be made such inspections described in section 25-5-715 as it may reasonably deem necessary.

(3) Repealed.

(4) Licenses shall expire on dates established by the board.

(5) Each area operator shall cause the licensing certificate, or a copy thereof, for each passenger tramway thus licensed to be displayed prominently at the place where passengers are loaded thereon.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 714, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-12.L. 77: Entire section amended, p. 1291, § 10, effective July 1.L. 86: Entire section amended, p. 976, § 5, effective April 3.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1541, § 8, effective July 1.L. 2001: (3) repealed, p. 120, § 7, effective July 1.

25-5-713. Licensing and certification fees

The application for new construction or major modification and the application for licensing shall be accompanied by a fee established pursuant to section 24-34-105, C.R.S.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 714, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-13.L. 77: Entire section amended, p. 1291, § 11, effective July 1.L. 86: Entire section amended, p. 976, § 6, effective April 6.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1541, § 8, effective July 1.L. 2001: Entire section amended, p. 120, § 8, effective July 1.

25-5-714. Disposition of fees and fines

(1) All fees collected by the board under the provisions of this part 7 shall be transmitted to the state treasurer, who shall credit the same pursuant to section 24-34-105, C.R.S., and the general assembly shall make annual appropriations pursuant to said section for expenditures of the board incurred in the performance of its duties under this part 7, which expenditures shall be made from such appropriations upon vouchers and warrants drawn pursuant to law.

(2) Fines collected pursuant to section 25-5-707 shall be deposited in the general fund of the state.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 714, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-14.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1541, § 8, effective July 1.L. 2006: Entire section amended, p. 96, § 65, effective August 7.

25-5-715. Inspections and investigations – costs – reports

(1) The board may cause to be made such inspection of the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of passenger tramways as the board may reasonably require.

(2) Such inspections shall include, at a minimum, two inspections per year or per two thousand hours of operation, whichever occurs first, of each passenger tramway, one of which inspections shall be during the high use season and shall be unannounced, and shall be carried out under contract by independent contractors selected by the board or by the supervisory tramway engineer. Additional inspections may be required by the board if the area operator does not, in the opinion of the board, make reasonable efforts to correct any deficiencies identified in any prior inspection or if the board otherwise deems such additional inspections necessary. The board shall provide in its rules and regulations that no facility shall be shut down for the purposes of a regular inspection during normal operating hours unless sufficient daylight is not available for the inspection.

(3) The board may employ independent contractors to make such inspections for reasonable fees plus expenses. The expenses incurred by the board in connection with the conduct of inspections provided for in this part 7 shall be paid in the first instance by the board, but each area operator of the passenger tramway which was the subject of such inspection shall, upon notification by the board of the amount due, reimburse the board for any charges made by such personnel for such services and for the actual expenses of each inspection.

(4) The board may cause an investigation to be made in response to an accident or incident involving a passenger tramway, as the board may reasonably require. The board may employ independent contractors to make such investigations for reasonable fees plus expenses. The expenses incurred by the board in connection with the conduct of investigations provided for in this part 7 shall be paid in the first instance by the board, and thereafter one or more area operators may be billed for work performed pursuant to subsection (3) of this section.

(5) If, as the result of an inspection, it is found that a violation of the board’s rules and regulations exists, or a condition in passenger tramway design, construction, operation, or maintenance exists, endangering the safety of the public, an immediate report shall be made to the board for appropriate investigation and order.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 714, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-15.L. 86: Entire section amended, p. 976, § 7, effective April 3.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1542, § 8, effective July 1.

25-5-716. Emergency shutdown

When facts are presented tending to show that an unreasonable hazard exists in the continued operation of a passenger tramway, after such verification of said facts as is practical under the circumstances and consistent with the public safety, the board, any member thereof, or the supervisory tramway engineer may, by an emergency order, require the area operator of said tramway forthwith to cease using the same for the transportation of passengers. Such emergency order shall be in writing and signed by a member of the board or the supervisory tramway engineer, and notice thereof may be served by the supervisory tramway engineer, any member of the board, or as provided by the Colorado rules of civil procedure or the “State Administrative Procedure Act”, article 4 of title 24, C.R.S. Such service shall be made upon the area operator or the area operator’s agent immediately in control of said tramway. Such emergency shutdown shall be effective for a period not to exceed seventy-two hours from the time of service. The board shall conduct an investigation into the facts of the case and shall take such action under this part 7 as may be appropriate.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 714, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-16.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1543, § 8, effective July 1.

25-5-717. Provisions in lieu of others

The provisions for regulation, registration, and licensing of passenger tramways and the area operators thereof under this part 7 shall be in lieu of all other regulations or registration or licensing requirements, and passenger tramways shall not be construed to be common carriers within the meaning of the laws of this state.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 715, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-17.L. 77: Entire section amended, p. 1292, § 13, effective July 1.L. 85: Entire section amended, p. 411, § 23, effective July 1.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1543, § 8, effective July 1.

ANNOTATION

Even though a ski lift operator is not a common carrier, the attendant circumstances of operating a ski lift demand that the ski lift operator be held to the highest degree of care commensurate with the practical operation of the lift. Bayer v. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, 960 P.2d 70 (Colo. 1998).

25-5-718. Governmental immunity – limitations on liability

The board, any member of the board, any person on the staff of the board, any technical advisor appointed by the board, any member of an advisory committee appointed by the board, and any independent contractor hired to perform or acting as a state tramway inspector on behalf of the board with whom the board contracts for assistance shall be provided all protections of governmental immunity provided to public employees by article 10 of title 24, C.R.S., including but not limited to the payment of judgments and settlements, the provision of legal defense, and the payment of costs incurred in court actions. These protections shall be provided to the board, board members, staff, technical advisors, committee members, and independent contractors hired to perform or acting as a state tramway inspector on behalf of the board only with regard to actions brought because of acts or omissions committed by such persons in the course of official board duties.

HISTORY: Source: L. 65: p. 715, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 66-25-18.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1543, § 8, effective July 1.

ANNOTATION

Law reviews. For article, “Ski Injury Liability”, see 43 U. Colo. L. Rev. 307 (1972).

25-5-719. Independent contractors – no general immunity

The provisions of section 25-5-718 shall be construed as a specific exception to the general exclusion of independent contractors hired to perform or acting as a state tramway inspector on behalf of the board from the protections of governmental immunity provided in article 10 of title 24, C.R.S.

HISTORY: Source: L. 86: Entire section added, p. 977, § 8, effective April 3.L. 93: Sections 25-5-705 to 25-5-719 R&RE, p. 1543, § 8, effective July 1.

25-5-720. Confidentiality of reports and other materials

(1) Reports of investigations conducted by an area operator or by a private contractor on an area operator’s behalf and filed with the board or the board’s staff shall be presumed to be privileged information exempt from public inspection under section 24-72-204 (3) (a) (IV), C.R.S., except as may be ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (1) of this section, all information in the possession of the board’s staff and all final reports to the board shall be open to public inspection in accordance with part 2 of article 72 of title 24, C.R.S.

HISTORY: Source: L. 93: Entire section added, p. 1544, § 9, effective July 1.

25-5-721. Repeal of part

(1) This part 7 is repealed, effective July 1, 2019.

(2) Prior to such repeal, the passenger tramway safety board shall be reviewed as provided for in section 24-34-104, C.R.S.

HISTORY: Source: L. 93: Entire section added, p. 1544, § 9, effective July 1.L. 2001: (1) amended, p. 120, § 9, effective July 1.L. 2008: (1) amended, p. 369, § 1, effective July 1.