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States that allow a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue

If your state is not listed here, you should assume a parent cannot waive a minor’s right to sue in your state.

State

By Statute Restrictions
Alaska Alaska: Sec. 09.65.292 Sec. 05.45.120 does not allow using a release by ski areas for ski injuries
Arizona ARS § 12-553 Limited to Equine Activities
Colorado C.R.S. §§13-22-107
Florida Florida Statute § 744.301 (3) Florida statute that allows a parent to release a minor’s right to sue
Virginia Chapter 62.  Equine Activity Liability § 3.2-6202.  Liability limited; liability actions prohibited Allows a parent to sign a release for a minor for equine activities
Utah 78B-4-203.  Limitations on Liability for Equine and Livestock Activities Limited to Equine Activities
(b) providing a document or release for the participant, or the participant’s legal guardian if the participant is a minor, to sign.
 

By Case Law

California Hohe v. San Diego Unified Sch. Dist., 224 Cal.App.3d 1559, 274 Cal.Rptr. 647 (1990)
Florida Global Travel Marketing, Inc v. Shea, 2005 Fla. LEXIS 1454 Allows a release signed by a parent to require arbitration of the minor’s claims
Florida Gonzalez v. City of Coral Gables, 871 So.2d 1067, 29 Fla. L. Weekly D1147 Release can be used for volunteer activities and by government entities
Maryland BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. v. Rosen, 435 Md. 714; 80 A.3d 345; 2013 Md. LEXIS 897 Maryland top court allows a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue. Release was not fantastic, but good enough.
Massachusetts Sharon v. City of Newton, 437 Mass. 99; 769 N.E.2d 738; 2002 Mass. LEXIS 384
Minnesota Moore vs. Minnesota Baseball Instructional School, 2009 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 299
North Dakota McPhail v. Bismarck Park District, 2003 ND 4; 655 N.W.2d 411; 2003 N.D. LEXIS 3 North Dakota decision allows a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue
Ohio Zivich v. Mentor Soccer Club, Inc., 696 N.E.2d 201, 82 Ohio St.3d 367 (1998) Ohio Appellate decision upholds the use of a release for a minor for a commercial activity
Wisconsin Osborn v. Cascade Mountain, Inc., 655 N.W.2d 546, 259 Wis. 2d 481, 2002 Wisc. App. LEXIS 1216, 2003 WI App 1 However the decision in Atkins v. Swimwest Family Fitness Center, 2005 WI 4; 2005 Wisc. LEXIS 2 may void all releases in the state
 

On the Edge, but not enough to really rely on

Decisions are by the Federal District Courts and only preliminary motions
North Carolina Kelly v. United States of America, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89741 North Carolina may allow a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue for injuries when the minor is engaged in non-profit activities sponsored by schools, volunteers, or community organizations
New York DiFrancesco v. Win-Sum Ski Corp., Holiday Valley, Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39695 New York Federal Magistrate in a Motion in Limine, hearing holds the New York Skier Safety Statute allows a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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MassBike Bills Receive Substantial Sponsors

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THANK YOUMassBike Bills Receive Substantial Sponsors

March 9, 2015

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State House and Common, in the Snow Copyright Leslie Jones, provided by Boston Public Library under Creative Commons License
State House and Common, in the Snow Copyright Leslie Jones, provided by Boston Public Library under Creative Commons License

The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (“MassBike”) is deeply appreciative of each of the state legislators that sponsored bills to make our roadways safer and more convenient for bicyclists. As the newly appointed executive director of MassBike I want to acknowledge and thank them for showing the political courage to support cycling and cyclists in Massachusetts. Please join me in thanking your senators and representatives for sponsoring these important bills. You can find out how here, or look for your districts below.

Apparently things are changing for the better for bicycling here in the world’s largest college town, Massachusetts. Working with our former executive director and current government affairs advisor, David Watson, we filed two bills for the new legislative session on Beacon Hill. The first was a Bike Lane Protection Bill, which makes it illegal for motorists to block established bike lanes. Every cyclist has experienced frustration with those hard-won bike lanes being used for everything from deliveries to taxi lines to double-parking spaces.

The second piece of legislation is a Vulnerable Road Users Bill, which brings together pedestrians, cyclists, road workers, tow truck operators, police officers, and emergency personnel as vulnerable road users and defines what is a safe-passing distance. This is landmark legislation that makes our entire state safer.

We had 42 lawmakers sign on as sponsors or co-sponsors for each of these bills. This represents 25 percent of the State Senate and 21 percent of the State House. This support will not go unnoticed. For too long, bicyclists have been simply tolerated by the transportation system. This legislation, if passed, will show that the Bay State – which has so much to gain by integrating pedestrians and cyclists into its streetscape – is not looking to just tolerate bicyclists but also to welcome and protect them as an important part of the transportation grid.

These lawmakers recognize that for the Bay State to be a leader in transportation, the bicycle is an important part of the streetscape, roadways, and transportation grid.

In the Senate

Sponsoring Both Bills
Michael Barrett, Third Middlesex
William Brownsberger, Second Suffolk and Middlesex
Sonia Chang-Diaz, Second Suffolk
Sal DiDomenico, Middlex and Suffolk
Kenneth Donnelly, Fourth Middlesex
James Eldridge, Middlesex and Worcester
Brian Joyce, Norfolk, Bristol, and Plymouth
Jason Lewis, Fifth Middlesex
Joan Lovely, Second Essex

Sponsoring Vulnerable Road Users Bill
Anne Gobi, Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, and Middlesex

In the House

Sponsoring Both Bills
Ruth Balser, 12th Middlesex
Gailanne Cariddi, 1st Berkshire
Marjorie Decker, 25th Middlesex
Daniel Donahue, 16th Worcester
Shawn Dooley, 9th Norfolk
Carolyn Dykema, 8th Middlesex
Sean Garballey, 23rd Middlesex
Kenneth Gordon, 21st Middlesex
Jonathan Hecht, 29th Middlesex
Kay Khan, 11th Middlesex
Peter Kocot, 1st Hampshire
Jay Livingstone, 8th Suffolk
Timothy Madden, Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket
Elizabeth Poirier, 14th Bristol
Denise Provost, 27th Middlesex
Angelo Puppolo, 12th Hampden
David Rogers, 24th Middlesex
Jeffrey Roy, 10th Norfolk
Paul Schmid, 8th Bristol
Frank Smizik, 15th Norfolk
Aaron Vega, 5th Hampden
John Velis, 4th Hampden
Chris Walsh, 6th Middlesex

Sponsoring Vulnerable Road Users Bill
Daniel Cullinane, 12th Suffolk
Josh Cutler, 6th Plymouth
Carole Fiola, 6th Bristol
Leonard Mirra, 2nd Essex

Sponsoring Bike Lane Bill
Christine Barber, 34th Middlesex
Danielle Gregoire, 4th Middlesex
Bradford Hill, 4th Essex
Michael Moran, 18th Suffolk
Paul Tucker, 7th Essex

Yours Truly,
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Richard Fries
Executive Director, MassBike

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States that allow a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue

If your state is not listed here, you should assume a parent cannot waive a minor’s right to sue in your state.

State

By Statute

Restrictions

Alaska

Alaska: Sec. 09.65.292

Sec. 05.45.120 does not allow using a release by ski areas for ski injuries

Arizona

ARS § 12-553

Limited to Equine Activities

Colorado

C.R.S. §§13-22-107

 

Florida

Florida Statute § 744.301 (3)

Florida statute that allows a parent to release a minor’s right to sue

Virginia

Chapter 62.  Equine Activity Liability § 3.2-6202.  Liability limited; liability actions prohibited

Allows a parent to sign a release for a minor for equine activities

Utah

78B-4-203.  Limitations on Liability for Equine and Livestock Activities

Limited to Equine Activities
(b) providing a document or release for the participant, or the participant’s legal guardian if the participant is a minor, to sign.

 

By Case Law

 

California

Hohe v. San Diego Unified Sch. Dist., 224 Cal.App.3d 1559, 274 Cal.Rptr. 647 (1990)

 

Florida

Global Travel Marketing, Inc v. Shea, 2005 Fla. LEXIS 1454

Allows a release signed by a parent to require arbitration of the minor’s claims

Florida

Gonzalez v. City of Coral Gables, 871 So.2d 1067, 29 Fla. L. Weekly D1147

Release can be used for volunteer activities and by government entities

Massachusetts

Sharon v. City of Newton, 437 Mass. 99; 769 N.E.2d 738; 2002 Mass. LEXIS 384

 

Minnesota

Moore vs. Minnesota Baseball Instructional School, 2009 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 299

 

North Dakota

McPhail v. Bismarck Park District, 2003 ND 4; 655 N.W.2d 411; 2003 N.D. LEXIS 3

 

Ohio

Zivich v. Mentor Soccer Club, Inc., 696 N.E.2d 201, 82 Ohio St.3d 367 (1998)

 

Wisconsin

Osborn v. Cascade Mountain, Inc., 655 N.W.2d 546, 259 Wis. 2d 481, 2002 Wisc. App. LEXIS 1216, 2003 WI App 1

However the decision in Atkins v. Swimwest Family Fitness Center, 2005 WI 4; 2005 Wisc. LEXIS 2 may void all releases in the state

Maryland

BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. v. Rosen, 435 Md. 714; 80 A.3d 345; 2013 Md. LEXIS 897

Maryland top court allows a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue. Release was not fantastic, but good enough.

 

On the Edge, but not enough to really rely on

 

North Carolina

Kelly v. United States of America, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89741
Kelly , v. United States of America, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135289

Ruling is by the Federal District Court and only a preliminary motion
And final decision dismissing the case

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Copyright 2011 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law, Recreation.Law@Gmail.com

Twitter: RecreationLaw

Facebook: Rec.Law.Now

Facebook Page: Outdoor Recreation & Adventure Travel Law

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Zip line put away for the season still found and plaintiff gets injured on rigged system.

4H Camp not liable for group of people who rig a zip line and borrow a ladder to get to the platform.

(Permanent URL)

Herberchuk v. Essex County 4H Club Camp, Inc. et al., 1999 Mass. Super. LEXIS 99

Date of the Decision: 1999

Plaintiff: Alicia Herberchuk

Defendant: Essex County 4H Club Camp, Inc and Teleglobe Communications, Inc.

Plaintiff Claims: negligence

Defendant Defenses: no duty owed

Holding: for the defendants

The plaintiff attended an event with other employees at a 4H camp that had been rented for the event. The event was not sponsored by the defendant employer Teleglobe but was an event for employees of Teleglobe.

The camp had a zip wire which had been closed for the season. The ladder leading up to the platform for the launch of the zip line had been removed and there was no pulley, harness or other equipment at the zip wire. The plaintiff had noticed upon her arrival that there was no ladder leading up to the platform.

A ladder had been found, and other people at the event were using the zip wire by holding on to a green nylon rope to ride down the wire. The plaintiff decided she wanted to ride the wire. She climbed up the ladder. The ladder that had been found did not reach the platform, and the plaintiff had to pull herself up to the platform.

The plaintiff grabbed the nylon roped and leaped off the platform where she fell injuring herself. The plaintiff sued the 4H camp and her employer. The defendants filed motions for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court. The plaintiff appealed.

Summary of the case

The first issue presented was the duty of the landowner, the 4H camp to the attendees.

A property owner has a duty to maintain its property “in a reasonably safe condition in view of all the circumstances, including the likelihood of injury to others, the seriousness of the injury, and the burden of avoiding the risk.” A defendant is not required to “supply a place of maximum safety, but only one, which would be safe to a person who exercises such minimum care as the circumstances reasonably indicate.” “A landowner has no duty to protect lawful visitors on his property from risks that would be obvious to persons of average intelligence.”

The court took notice that the camp had removed all the equipment to operate the zip wire, including the ladder. The plaintiff still decided to use the zip wire knowing this. The 4H camp did not have a duty to warn the plaintiff of the dangers of the zip wire because the dangers were obvious with no safety equipment or instruction on how to use it. “There is no duty to warn of dangers obvious to persons of average intelligence.”

The appellate court agreed with the trial court and dismissed the claims against the landowner, the 4H camp.

The next claim was against the employer of the plaintiff. This claim was thrown out even faster. The event was not sponsored by Teleglobe; the money for the event came from employees through a raffle. Finally, the plaintiff was not required to attend the event as part of her employment and was not paid to be there.

So Now What?

As we all know, if there is a way to have more fun or get injured humans can find it and do it.  About the only thing you could do in this case is taking the platform down or hiding all ladders at the camp.

As a landowner always understand your obligations to people on your land, whether they pay to be there or not.

If your employees want to do something like this, understand your corporate responsibilities in assisting or not assisting in the event.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

If you like this let your friends know or post it on FaceBook, Twitter or LinkedIn

Copyright 2014 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

 

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

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Herberchuk v. Essex County 4H Club Camp, Inc. et al., 1999 Mass. Super. LEXIS 99

Herberchuk v. Essex County 4H Club Camp, Inc. et al., 1999 Mass. Super. LEXIS 99

Alicia Herberchuk v. Essex County 4H Club Camp, Inc. et al.

96-4863

SUPERIOR COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS, AT MIDDLESEX

1999 Mass. Super. LEXIS 99

March 11, 1999, Decided

JUDGES: [*1] Raymond J. Brassard, Justice of the Superior Court.

OPINION BY: RAYMOND J. BRASSARD

OPINION

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Plaintiff, Alicia Herberchuk (“Ms. Herberchuk”), brought this action for recovery of damages for injuries sustained while on land owned by defendant, Essex County 4H Club Camp, Inc. (“4H”), while attending an outing accompanied by co-workers employed by defendant, Teleglobe Communications, Inc. (“Teleglobe”). The plaintiff alleges that the injuries were caused by the negligence of the defendants and that there are genuine issues of material fact which preclude the entry of summary judgment on the issue of liability. For the reasons set forth below, defendants’ motions for summary judgment are ALLOWED.

BACKGROUND

Viewing the facts available at this summary judgment stage in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Ms. Herberchuk, the undisputed facts are as follows.

On August 28, 1993, Ms. Herberchuk attended an employee outing at a campground owned by 4-H. The campground had been rented through a third party under the name of Teleglobe by certain of its employees, but not by Teleglobe itself. At the cookout [*2] Ms. Herberchuk observed other guests using an apparatus known as a zipwire. The zipwire was used by children who attended the 4H’s camp during the summer months. Using the zipwire involved climbing up a ladder which reached to a platform mounted on a tree, and then leaving the platform to traverse the entire length of the wire. Proper use of the zipwire required a safety helmet, a safety harness, a drag line, and several people assisting the rider. The zipwire also included an 8 inch square 2,000 pound-test pulley to which the safety harness was attached. At the end of the camping season all removable equipment, including the safety equipment, was required to be removed from the zipwire, leaving only the cable and the platform.

On the date in question, a ladder found on or near the campground was propped against the tree upon which the platform was mounted by unidentified parties allowing guests to access the zipwire. Hanging from the zipwire was a nylon rope described as green in color which other guests were using to slide down the wire. No rules or instructions on how to use the zipwire were posted on or near the apparatus on the day in question. After watching several other [*3] people use the zipwire, Ms. Herberchuk decided she wanted to use the apparatus. In order to reach the zipwire, the plaintiff climbed the ladder. Although the ladder did not reach the platform at the end of the wire, Ms. Herberchuk was able to reach the platform by pulling herself up by her hands. Once on the platform Ms. Herberchuk wrapped the rope around her hands as she had seen others do and pushed herself off. Instead of traveling down the wire, however, Ms. Herberchuk fell to the ground sustaining serious injuries, including two elbow fractures and a fractured jaw. As result of these events Ms. Herberchuk commenced this lawsuit against 4H and Teleglobe. Both 4H and Teleglobe have moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability.

DISCUSSION

[HN1] Summary judgment shall be granted where there are no issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to as a matter of law. Kourouvacilis v. General Motors Corp., 410 Mass. 706, 716, 575 N.E.2d 734 (1991); Cassesso v. Comm’r of Correction, 390 Mass. 419, 422, 456 N.E.2d 1123 (1983); Community Nat’l Bank v. Dawes, 369 Mass. 550, 553, 340 N.E.2d 877 (1976); Mass.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the burden of affirmatively demonstrating the [*4] absence of a triable issue and that, therefore, she is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Pederson v. Time, Inc., 404 Mass. 14, 17, 532 N.E.2d 1211 (1989). If the moving party establishes the absence of a triable issue, in order to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the opposing party must respond and allege facts which would establish the existence of disputed material facts. Id.

[HN2] A judge, when ruling on a motion for summary judgment must consider “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, in determining whether summary judgment is appropriate.” Flesner v. Technical Communications Corporation et al., 410 Mass. 805, 807, 575 N.E.2d 1107 (1991). Where no genuine issue of material fact exists, “the judge must ask himself not whether he thinks the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff on the evidence presented.” Id. citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).

1. The Claim Against 4-H.

[HN3] A property owner has a duty to maintain its property [*5] “in a reasonably safe condition in view of all the circumstances, including the likelihood of injury to others, the seriousness of the injury, and the burden of avoiding the risk.” Mounsey v. Ellard, 363 Mass. 693, 708, 297 N.E.2d 43 (1973). A defendant is not required to “supply a place of maximum safety, but only one which would be safe to a person who exercises such minimum care as the circumstances reasonably indicate.” Toubiana v. Priestly, 402 Mass. 84, 88, 520 N.E.2d 1307 (1988). “A landowner has no duty to protect lawful visitors on his property from risks that would be obvious to persons of average intelligence.” Id. at 89.

In the present case, Ms. Herberchuk claims there are genuine issues of fact concerning the condition in which the zipwire was kept, as well as, what actions 4-H took to prevent unauthorized use of the apparatus. The evidence on the record, for the purposes of this motion, includes affidavits from both Ms. Herberchuk and Mr. Charles G. Ingersoll, a member of the 4-H Board of Trustees, as well as exhibits, including photographs of the area immediately before the accident.

In his affidavit, Mr. Ingersoll states that, while not having [*6] a specific memory of doing so the summer during which Ms. Herberchuk was injured, it was his practice to remove and put away for the winter all those removable parts and safety equipment associated with the zipwire at the end of each camping season (before the outing). Mr. Ingersol also stated that the ladder used by the plaintiff to get to the platform was not one of those presently used by the camp and that the pulley was not on the line the day of the outing. Ms. Herberchuk admitted in her affidavit that when she first arrived at the outing there was no ladder attached to the tree and that when she attempted to make her way to the platform she had to pull herself up because the wooden ladder placed there did not reach the platform. Ms. Herberchuk stated further that she did not know if the pulley was attached to the wire or where the strap had come from.

[HN4] “The question to be decided is whether the jury reasonably could have concluded that, in view of all the circumstances, an ordinarily prudent person in the defendant’s position would have taken steps, not taken by the defendant, to prevent the accident that occurred.” Id. at 89. In this case the evidence shows that 4-H [*7] had removed both the ladder and the safety equipment used with the zipwire during the camping season. Upon arriving at the outing Ms. Herberchuk saw no ladder allowing entry to the platform rendering the zipwire inaccessible, it being twenty feet above the ground. Ms. Herberchuk chose to use the zipwire without the benefit of safety equipment or instructions on the use of the device. Ms. Herberchuk also admitted in her deposition that she knew there was a chance she could be injured but decided to use the apparatus. Further, 4-H did not have a duty to warn Ms. Herberchuk of the obvious dangers involved with using the zipwire without safety equipment or instruction. “There is no duty to warn of dangers obvious to persons of average intelligence.” Thorson v. Mandell, 402 Mass. 744, 749, 525 N.E.2d 375 (1988). On this evidence, a fair minded jury could not return a verdict for the plaintiff.

2. The Claim Against Teleglobe.

[HN5] “Before liability for negligence can be imposed there must first be a legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, and a breach of that duty proximately resulting in the injury.” Davis v. Westwood Group, 420 Mass. 739, 743, 652 N.E.2d 567 (1995). [*8] Ms. Herberchuk urges that Teleglobe played a part in the organization and funding of the outing at which the plaintiff was injured. The evidence, however, is to the contrary. First, the outing was organized by Teleglobe employees because the company no longer sponsored such events. Second, the money to pay for the outing was raised by a group of employees independent of Teleglobe through the use of a raffle. Finally, Ms. Herberchuk’s attendance was not required by her employment and she received no compensation for attending. On this evidence a reasonable jury could not find that Teleglobe owed any duty to Ms. Herberchuk.

ORDER

For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ORDERED that defendants’, 4-H and Teleglobe, motions for summary judgment are ALLOWED.

Raymond J, Brassard

Justice of the Superior Court

Dated: March 11, 1999


Industry standards are proof of gross negligence and keep defendant in lawsuit even with good release

If the industry says you should and calls it a standard you better

Lautieri v. Bae, 17 Mass. L. Rep. 4; 2003 Mass. Super. LEXIS 290 (Mass. Sup 2003)

Plaintiff: Derek A. Lautieri

Defendant: Jorun G. Bae

Third Party Defendants: defendants USA Triathlon, Inc., William Fiske d/b/a Fiske Independent Race Management, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metrowest, Inc.

Plaintiff Claims: negligence and court added gross negligence

Defendant Defenses: Release

Holding: Holding release released defendants who could not be held to gross negligence.

This decision is from a trial court in Massachusetts. It has limited value in Massachusetts and other states.

If you have read many of these articles, you understand that releases do not bar claims for gross negligence. In this case, the release did not bar the claim for gross negligence, even when the plaintiff did not plead gross negligence.

This is a car/bike accident case during a triathlon. The plaintiff was cycling in a triathlon with several other cyclists. The defendant Bae, driver pulled out in front of the cyclists resulting in a collision. The course was not closed to traffic.

The defendant car driver brought in as third party defendants the race organizer, William Fiske d/b/a Fiske Independent Race Management (Fiske), the race charity Boys and Girls Clubs of Metrowest, Inc. (BGC) and the triathlon association sanctioning body USA Triathlon, Inc., (USTA).

The third party defendants were brought in for “contribution.” Contribution is defined in Massachusetts as:

Where two or more persons become jointly liable in tort for the same injury to person or property, there shall be a right of contribution among them.” The Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) has consistently interpreted the language of this statute to mean that an “action for contribution is not barred if, at the time the accident occurred, the party for whom contribution is sought could have been held liable in tort.”

For the defendant, Bae to enable to enforce contribution against the third party defendants she must show that the third party defendants could be held liable at trial in tort. Any defenses available to the third party defendants against the original plaintiff will also be a defense to the contribution claim of the defendant Bae.

Therefore, in order for Bae to be able to enforce a right of contribution against any of the third-party defendants, she must be able to show that the particular third-party defendant could have been found tortiously liable to the plaintiff at the time the accident occurred.

Fiske was the person who put the triathlon together. Even though Fiske was operating as Fiske Independent Race Management, the court indicated that Fiske was not a corporation or company (LLC). USTA sanctioned the race, including providing liability insurance and standards, according to the court, on how the race should be run.

The defendant Bae argued that the third party defendants should be liable for failing to “a safe layout for the race course, failure to provide warning signs and directions, and failure to place volunteers and/or police personnel at the intersection where the incident occurred.”

The court determined that USTA was:

…the governing body of triathlon races and promulgates safety requirements for use by organizers of sanctioned triathlon races.

USTA is the governing body of triathlon races and promulgates safety requirements for use by organizers of sanctioned triathlon races.

In that position, USTA created regulations for running triathlons which the court quoted:

2. It is highly recommended to close the [bike race] road to traffic. If not possible, cone bike lanes with a minimum width of six feet from vehicles . . . 9. Control stoplights/stop sign intersections, traffic hazards and turnarounds with police and an ample amount of volunteers . . . 12. Use ‘Race in Progress’ or ‘Watch for Cyclists’ signs placed along the course to help warn motorists about conditions . . . 23. All turns, turn-arounds, traffic hazards and intersections must be monitored and marked with signs and volunteers. Any intersections with stop signs or stop lights must be controlled by police or professional traffic personnel.

Fiske did not follow any of the guidelines offered by the USTA.

…it does not appear that Fiske, as Race Director, heeded any of the guidelines described above for the triathlon at issue; rather, he left the intersection at which Lautieri collided with Bae open to traffic, uncontrolled by police or volunteers, unmarked with warnings, and unmonitored.

Summary of the case

The defense raised by the third party defendants was “release.” The plaintiff signed a release to join the USTA and receive a license. The plaintiff also signed an application which contained language similar to that of a release when she entered the race.

Under Massachusetts law, the enforceability of a release is a question (issue) of law to be decided by the court. “Massachusetts law favors the enforcement of releases.”

There can be no doubt . . . that under the law of Massachusetts . . . in the absence of fraud a person may make a valid contract exempting himself from any liability to another which he may in the future incur as a result of his negligence or that of his agents or employees acting on his behalf.” While any doubts about the interpretation of a release must be resolved in the favor of the plaintiff, an unambiguous and comprehensive release will be enforced as drafted.

Nor does the word negligence have to be found in the release. Releases, like all other states, do not bar claims of gross negligence. Neither the plaintiff nor the defendant complained of any gross negligence. The court, however, stated that even though not pled, gross negligence could be found later against Fiske. If that was the case, then the releases signed by the plaintiff did not bar the claim against Fiske. “While these waivers are sufficient to release Fiske from all liability for harm caused by his own negligence, they do not release him from his own gross negligence.” The court found that the actions of Fiske could rise to the level of gross negligence.

The basis of that finding was Fiske did not follow the guidelines or regulations of the governing body, the USTA in running the race. “As this definition is necessarily vague, it is important to note that courts have found that “industry standards may be some evidence of negligence.”

To some extent, the court must have thought that Fiske’s failure to follow the standards of the USTA was very egregious to raise the issue of gross negligence in the case.

The court quoted the regulations cited above as evidence that what Fiske did when ignoring the industry standards was sufficient to void the release because it raised the possibility that Fiske was grossly negligent.

…it does not appear that Fiske, as Race Director, heeded any of the guidelines described above for the triathlon at issue; rather, he left the intersection at which Lautieri collided with Bae open to traffic, uncontrolled by police or volunteers, unmarked with warnings, and unmonitored.

The court further defined negligence and gross negligence under Massachusetts law.

Negligence, without qualification and in its ordinary sense, is the failure of a responsible person, either by omission or by action, to exercise that degree of care, vigilance and forethought which, in the discharge of the duty then resting on him, the person of ordinary caution and prudence ought to exercise under the particular circumstances. It is a want of diligence commensurate with the requirement of the duty at the moment imposed by the law.

Gross negligence is substantially and appreciably higher in magnitude than ordinary negligence. It is materially more want of care than constitutes simple inadvertence. It is an act or omission respecting legal duty of an aggravated character as distinguished from a mere failure to exercise ordinary care. It is very great negligence, or the absence of slight diligence, or the want of even scant care. It amounts to indifference to present legal duty and to utter forgetfulness of legal obligations so far as other persons may be affected. It is a heedless and palpable violation of legal duty respecting the rights of others. The element of culpability which characterizes all negligence is in gross negligence magnified to a high degree as compared with that present in ordinary negligence. Gross negligence is a manifestly smaller amount of watchfulness and circumspection than the circumstances require of a person of ordinary prudence . . . It falls short of being such reckless disregard of probable consequences as is equivalent to a wilful and intentional wrong. Ordinary and gross negligence differ in degree of inattention, while both differ in kind from wilful and intentional conduct which is or ought to be known to have a tendency to injure.”

The court’s justification for not letting Fiske out of the case and for allowing the possibility of a claim for gross negligence was interesting.

While Bae has specifically pled negligence, and not gross negligence, this Court has considered the summary judgment motion as if a claim for gross negligence against the third-party defendants has been made.

Accordingly, because gross negligence may be considered an alternative theory of a standard negligence claim, Bae should be permitted to proceed with her claim of gross negligence against the third-party defendants.

The court then looked at the allegations against the USTA.

In order for Lautieri to establish that USTA owed him a duty of care at the time the accident occurred, Lautieri would have to establish that such a duty has a “source existing in social values and customs,” or that USTA voluntarily, or for consideration, assumed a duty of care to Lautieri. This is a burden that Lautieri–or, more appropriately, Bae, standing in Lautieri’s shoes–cannot meet.

There was no evidence that showed USTA participated or was supposed to participate in the planning, operation, supervision or running of the race. USTA did not even have a representative of USTA attend the race. Consequently, because there was no duty and USTA created no duty to the plaintiff the release barred the claims of the third party defendant.

The court’s discussion of the Boys and Girls Club was shorter.

A similar finding regarding the B&G Clubs is mandated. While there is evidence that the B&G Clubs provided volunteers for the triathlon, there is no evidence to support a claim of gross negligence against the B&G Clubs or any of its members.

USTA and the Boys and Girls Club were dismissed from the lawsuit.

So Now What?

The “release” or as identified by the court, application, was extremely weak. If the release had identified the course as being an open course, not closed to cars, this might have changed the outcome of the case for Fiske. No matter, the document was too weak not to create problems rather than resolve them in this case.

However, even if the release was stronger, it might not have gotten Fiske out of the case because of the court raised allegations of gross negligence. The USTA created regulations for running a race. By requesting and receiving sanctioning for the race, Fiske knowingly or unknowingly, became burdened or bound by those regulations. The court called them standards, regulations and guidelines throughout the decision, but the simple fact is they were a noose around the third party defendant’s neck.

You cannot look at your industry and not understand the standard of care in the industry or not find and follow the guidelines the industry is creating.

These “regulations” are fairly simple and appear to be commons sense. However, they substantially increase the cost of running an event. Closing a street requires government paperwork, government employees and usually help from law enforcement. All significantly increase the cost of running the event.

However, the regulations more importantly are proof that if an industry association creates regulations, standards, guidelines or rules, they are the standard of care against which members of the same industry will be judged in court.

For more articles on how standards created by an association are used to harm association members see:

ACA Standards are used by Expert for the Plaintiff in a lawsuit against a Camp

Expert Witness Report: ACA “Standards” are used by Expert for the Plaintiff in a lawsuit against a Camp

Plaintiff uses standards of ACCT to cost defendant $4.7 million

Trade Association Standards sink a Summer Camp when plaintiff uses them to prove Camp was negligent

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Massachusetts Ski Safety Act

Massachusetts Ski Safety Act

ANNOTATED LAWS OF MASSACHUSETTS

PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT

TITLE XX PUBLIC SAFETY AND GOOD ORDER

Chapter 143 Inspection and Regulation of, and Licenses for, Buildings, Elevators and Cinematographs

GO TO MASSACHUSETTS CODE ARCHIVE DIRECTORY

ALM GL ch. 143, § 71I (2012)

§ 71I. Recreational Tramways — Definitions.

As used in sections seventy-one H to seventy-one S, inclusive, the following words shall, unless the context otherwise requires, have the following meanings:

“Recreational tramway”, 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. The term recreational tramway shall include the following:

(1) Two-car aerial passenger tramway, a device used to transport passengers in two open or enclosed cars attached to, and suspended from, a moving wire rope, or attached to a moving wire rope and supported on a standing wire rope, or similar devices.

(2) Multi-car aerial passenger tramway, a device used to transport passengers in several open or enclosed cars attached to, and suspended from, a moving wire rope, or attached to a moving wire rope and supported on a standing wire rope, or similar devices.

(3) Skimobile, a device in which a passenger car running on steel or wooden tracks is attached to and pulled by a steel cable, or similar devices.

(4) Chair lift, 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, or similar devices.

(5) J bar, T bar or platter pull, so-called, and similar types of devices, 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.

(6) Rope tow, a type of transportation which pulls the skiers riding on skis as the skiers grasp the rope manually, or similar devices.

“Operator”, a person, including the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof, who owns or controls the operation of a recreational tramway.

“Board”, the recreational tramway board.

“Skier”, any person utilizing the ski area under control of a ski area operator for the purpose of skiing, whether or not that person is a passenger on a recreational tramway, including riders during a non-skiing season.

“Ski area”, all of the slopes and trails under the control of the ski area operator, including cross-country ski areas, slopes and trails, and any recreational tramway in operation on any such slopes or trails administered or operated as a single enterprise but shall not include base lodges, motor vehicle parking lots and other portions of ski areas used by skiers when not actually engaged in the sport of skiing.

“Ski area operator”, the owner or operator of a ski area, including an agency of the commonwealth or a political subdivision thereof, or the employees, agents, officers or delegated representatives of such owner or operator, including the owner or operator of a cross-country ski area, slope or trail, and of any recreational tramway in operation on any such slope or trail administered or operated as a single enterprise.

“Ski slope or trail”, an area designed by the person or organization having operational responsibility for the ski area as herein defined, including a cross-country ski area, for use by the public in furtherance of the sport of skiing, meaning such designation as is set forth on a trail map or as otherwise designated by a sign indicating to the skiing public the intent that the area be used by skiers for purpose of participating in the sport.

HISTORY: 1968, 565, § 1; 1978, 455, §§ 1, 2; 1996, 58, § 28; 1996, 151, § 528.

NOTES: Editorial Note

The 1978 amendment, in the first sentence, extended the applicability of definitions through § 71S, and added the definitions of “Skier,” “Ski area,” “Ski area operator,” and “Ski slope or trail.”

The first 1996 amendment, (ch 58), effective July 1, 1996, repealed this section.

The second 1996 amendment, (ch 151), effective July 1, 1996, repealed the provisions of Acts 1996, Ch. 58, § 28, that repealed this section, thereby restoring this section.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

Recreational tramway board; adopting administrative regulations. 526 CMR 2.01 et seq.

Ski safety signs for downhill and cross-country skiing. 526 CMR 8.01 et seq.

Law Reviews

Centner, Equestrian Immunity and Sport Responsibility Statutes: Altering Obligations and Placing Them on Participants. 13 Vill. Sports & Ent. L.J. 37 (2006).

CASE NOTES

Language of ALM GL c 143, § 71I limits the definition of skier to any person utilizing a ski area for the purpose of skiing, and shows that the Massachusetts Ski Safety Act (Act), ALM GL c 143, §§ 71N, 71O, was not intended to include a non-skiing sport like snow tubing; the Act did not relieve a ski operator from a claim for injuries from a snow tubing accident, and the ski operator’s summary judgment motion was denied. Burden v. Amesbury Sports Park, Inc. (2003, Super Ct) 16 Mass L Rep 744, 2003 Mass Super LEXIS 276.

Snowboarders falls within the definition of skiers. Rich v. Tamarack Ski Corp. (2008) 24 Mass L Rep 448, 2008 Mass. Super. LEXIS 324.

Because snowboarders were included within the definition of “skiers” found in ALM GL c 143, § 71I, under ALM GL c 143, § 71O, a ski area operator and an instructor were not liable to a snowboarder who was injured when she ran into the instructor who was standing at the side of a ski hill. Rich v. Tamarack Ski Corp. (2008) 24 Mass L Rep 448, 2008 Mass. Super. LEXIS 324.

Because a racing skier’s collision with a lift tower stanchion was off the race course and off the trail–as defined in ALM GL c 143, § 71I– ALM GL c 143, § 71O, placed the duty to avoid collisions on the skier alone. Brush v. Jiminy Peak Mt. Resort, Inc. (2009) 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52204.

§ 71J. Recreational Tramways — Board to Adopt Rules and Regulations for Construction, Maintenance; Licensing of Inspectors.

After a hearing, the board shall adopt, and may from time to time amend or revoke, rules and regulations for the construction, operation and maintenance of recreational tramways and for the inspection, licensing and certification of inspectors thereof. The board shall in like manner adopt, and from time to time amend or revoke, rules and regulations for a system of signs to be used by a ski area operator in order to promote the safety of skiers. Such system shall incorporate standards in general use in the skiing industry to evaluate the difficulty of slopes and trails and to adequately alert skiers to the known danger of any slope or trail or the ski area. The attorney general shall assist the board in framing such rules and regulations.

HISTORY: 1968, 565, § 1; 1978, 455, § 3; 1996, 58, § 28; 1996, 151, § 528.

NOTES: Editorial Note

The 1978 amendment, added the second and third sentences, relative to sign systems.

The first 1996 amendment, (ch 58), effective July 1, 1996, repealed this section.

The second 1996 amendment, (ch 151), effective July 1, 1996, repealed the provisions of Acts 1996, Ch. 58, § 28, that repealed this section, thereby restoring this section.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

Recreational tramway board. 526 CMR 1.01 through 3.04; , 4.00 (1.1-1.8), 5.00 (2.1-2.6), 6.00 (3.1-3.6), 7.00 (4.1, 4.2), 8.01, 8.02.

Law Review References

Centner, Equestrian Immunity and Sport Responsibility Statutes: Altering Obligations and Placing Them on Participants. 13 Vill. Sports & Ent. L.J. 37 (2006).

§ 71K. Recreational Tramways — to Be Licensed.

No recreational tramway shall be operated unless a license for such operation has been issued by the board. Such license shall be issued for a term of not longer than one year, upon application therefor on a form furnished by the board, and upon a determination by the board that the recreational tramway conforms to the rules and regulations of the board. In making such determination the board may rely upon the report of an inspector certified by it in accordance with its rules and regulations.

HISTORY: 1968, 565, § 1; 1996, 58, § 28; 1996, 151, § 528.

NOTES: Editorial Note

The first 1996 amendment, (ch 58), effective July 1, 1996, repealed this section.

The second 1996 amendment, (ch 151), effective July 1, 1996, repealed the provisions of Acts 1996, Ch. 58, § 28, that repealed this section, thereby restoring this section.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

Recreational tramway board; adopting administrative regulations. 526 CMR 2.01 et seq.

Ski safety signs for downhill and cross-country skiing. 526 CMR 8.01 et seq.

Jurisprudence

51 Am Jur 2d, Licenses and Permits §§ 10, 11, 64-68, 74, 76.

Law Review References

Centner, Equestrian Immunity and Sport Responsibility Statutes: Altering Obligations and Placing Them on Participants. 13 Vill. Sports & Ent. L.J. 37 (2006).

§ 71M. Recreational Tramways — Appeals to Superior Court from Orders of Board.

Any operator who is aggrieved by any order of the board may appeal therefrom to the superior court. No such appeal shall suspend the operation of the order made by the board; provided that the superior court may suspend the order of the board pending the determination of such appeal whenever, in the opinion of the court, justice may require such suspension. The superior court shall hear such appeal at the earliest convenient day and shall enter such decree as justice may require.

HISTORY: 1968, 565, § 1; 1996, 58, § 28; 1996, 151, § 528.

NOTES: Editorial Note

The first 1996 amendment, (ch 58), effective July 1, 1996, repealed this section.

The second 1996 amendment, (ch 151), effective July 1, 1996, repealed the provisions of Acts 1996, Ch. 58, § 28, that repealed this section, thereby restoring this section.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

Recreational tramway board; adopting administrative regulations. 526 CMR 2.01 et seq.

Ski safety signs for downhill and cross-country skiing. 526 CMR 8.01 et seq.

Jurisprudence

18C Am Jur Pl & Pr Forms (Rev), Occupations, Trades, and Professions, Forms 20, 21.

Law Review References

Centner, Equestrian Immunity and Sport Responsibility Statutes: Altering Obligations and Placing Them on Participants. 13 Vill. Sports & Ent. L.J. 37 (2006).

§ 71N. Recreational Tramways — Posting of Signs and Notices by Ski Area Operator.

A ski area operator shall:

(1) whenever maintenance or snow-making equipment is being employed on any ski slope or trail open to the public, conspicuously place or cause to be placed, notice at or near the top of any ski slope or trail being maintained that such equipment is being so employed, and shall conspicuously indicate the location of any such equipment in a manner to afford skiers reasonable notice of the proximity of such equipment;

(2) mark and identify all trail maintenance and emergency vehicles, including snowmobiles, and furnish such vehicles with flashing or rotating lights, which shall be operated during the time that said vehicles are in operation within the ski area;

(3) with respect to the emergency use of vehicles within the ski area, including but not limited to uses for purposes of removing injured or stranded skiers, or performing emergency maintenance or repair work to slopes, trails or tramway equipment, not be required to post such signs as is required by clause (1), but shall be required to maintain such lighting equipment required by clause (2);

(4) mark the location of any hydrants used in snow-making operations and located within or upon a slope or trail;

(5) conspicuously place within the ski area, in such form, size and location as the board may require, and on the back of any lift ticket issued notice, in plain language, of the statute of limitations and notice period established in section seventy-one P; and

(6) maintain a sign system on all buildings, recreational tramways, ski trails and slopes in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the board and shall be responsible for the maintenance and operation of ski areas under its control in a reasonably safe condition or manner; provided, however, that ski area operators shall not be liable for damages to persons or property, while skiing, which arise out of the risks inherent in the sport of skiing.

HISTORY: 1978, 455, § 4; 1996, 58, § 28; 1996, 151, § 528.

NOTES: Editorial Note

Acts 1978, Ch. 455, § 4, replaced former §§ 71N and 71O with sections 71N through 71S; the former provisions of §§ 71N and 71O are now contained in §§ 71R and 71S, respectively. Section 5 of the inserting act provides as follows:

Section 5. The provisions of clause (5) of section seventy-one N of chapter one hundred and forty-three of the General Laws, inserted by section three of this act, relative to the printing on lift tickets of a notice of the statute of limitations, shall not apply to a ski area operator who has a supply of such tickets already printed for the nineteen hundred and seventy-eight and nineteen hundred and seventy-nine skiing season, insofar as he may exhaust such supply. Such ski area operator shall, however, comply with said notice requirements beginning with the nineteen hundred and seventy-nine and nineteen hundred and eighty skiing season.

The first 1996 amendment, (ch 58), effective July 1, 1996, repealed this section.

The second 1996 amendment, (ch 151), effective July 1, 1996, repealed the provisions of Acts 1996, Ch. 58, § 28, that repealed this section, thereby restoring this section.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

Recreational tramway board; adopting administrative regulations. 526 CMR 2.01 et seq.

Ski safety signs for downhill and cross-country skiing. 526 CMR 8.01 et seq.

Jurisprudence

57A Am Jur 2d, Negligence § 32.

15 Am Jur Trials 147, Skiing Accident Litigation.

20 Am Jur Proof of Facts 2d 1, Liability for Skiing Accident.

Law Reviews

Centner, Equestrian Immunity and Sport Responsibility Statutes: Altering Obligations and Placing Them on Participants. 13 Vill. Sports & Ent. L.J. 37 (2006).

CASE NOTES

One year limitation period in GL c 143 § 71P is not applicable only to action for violation of duty prescribed by GL c 143 § 71N but applies to all personal injury actions brought by skiers against ski area operator arising out of skiing injuries. Atkins v. Jiminy Peak, Inc. (1987) 401 Mass 81, 514 NE2d 850, 1987 Mass LEXIS 1497.

ALM GL c 143 § 71O does not exempt ski area operator from liability for injuries caused by its agent. Tilley v. Brodie Mountain Ski Area, Inc. (1992) 412 Mass 1009, 591 NE2d 202, 1992 Mass LEXIS 273.

Summary judgment in favor of ski area operator was appropriate where plaintiff was skier, who slipped while approaching ski lift, since ALM GL c 143 § 71N specifically excludes liability for injury to skier arising out of risks inherent in sport of skiing, and a skier accepts, as a matter of law, risk that he or she might be injured in manner that falls within statutorily specified risks as well as risks contemplated by statutory scheme. Fetzner v. Jiminy Peak, The Mountain Resort (1995) 1995 Mass App Div 55, 1995 Mass App Div LEXIS 30.

Ski area operator was not liable for injuries sustained by skier who, after skiing over clumps of ice on trail, lost control and skied off trail edge into woods, since injuries arose out of risks inherent in skiing, and skier failed to control speed and direction. Spinale v. Pam F., Inc. (1995) 1995 Mass App Div 140, 1995 Mass App Div LEXIS 66.

Massachusetts Ski Safety Act (Act), ALM GL c 143, §§ 71N, 71O, was not intended to include a non-skiing sport like snow tubing; the Act did not relieve a ski operator from a claim for injuries from a snow tubing accident, and the ski operator’s summary judgment motion was denied. Burden v. Amesbury Sports Park, Inc. (2003, Super Ct) 16 Mass L Rep 744, 2003 Mass Super LEXIS 276.

Although a ski area operator had a general duty to operate the ski areas under its control in a reasonably safe manner, pursuant to ALM GL c 143, § 71N(6), because a racing skier’s collision with a lift tower stanchion was off the race course and off the trail, ALM GL c 143, § 71O, placed the duty to avoid collisions on the skier alone. Brush v. Jiminy Peak Mt. Resort, Inc. (2009) 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52204.

In a negligence action brought by an inexperienced skier who was seriously injured when she struck a snow gun while skiing on a low intermediate trail, even though the ski area operator’s trail markings did not violate the Massachusetts Ski Safety Act, ALM GL c 143, § 71N, or contribute to the accident and even though the skier had an obligation under ALM GL c 143, § 71O to avoid collisions with an object so long as the object was not improperly marked, the ski area operator was not entitled to summary judgment on all the negligence claims because there were factual disputes remaining as to whether the snow gun was adequately marked and padded. Peresypa v. Jiminy Peak Mt. Resort, Inc. (2009) 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84417.

Reasonable jury could find that ski area operator breached its general duty under ALM GL c 143 § 71N(6), even though statute provides exception protecting operators from “damages…which arise out of risks inherent in sport of skiing,” where examples of inherent risks enumerated by statute include “variations in terrain, surface or subsurface snow, ice conditions or bare spots,” because presence of snow gun in middle of ski trail does not appear to fall into category of inherent risk. Eipp v. Jiminy Peak, Inc. (2001) 154 F Supp 2d 110, 2001 US Dist LEXIS 11229.

§ 71O. Recreational Tramways — Conduct, Responsibilities, and Duties of Skiers.

No skier shall embark or disembark upon a recreational tramway except at a designated location and during designated hours of operation, throw or expel any object from any recreational tramway while riding thereon, act in any manner while riding on a recreational tramway that may interfere with its proper or safe operation, engage in any type of conduct which may injure any person, or place any object in the uphill ski track which may cause another to fall while traveling uphill on a ski lift, or cross the uphill track of a recreational tramway except at designated locations. A skier shall maintain control of his speed and course at all times, and shall stay clear of any snow-grooming equipment, any vehicle, towers, poles, or other equipment.

A skier who boards a recreational tramway shall be presumed to have sufficient abilities to use the same, and shall follow any written or oral instruction given regarding its use and no skier shall embark on a recreational tramway without authority of the operator. A skier skiing down hill shall have the duty to avoid any collision with any other skier, person or object on the hill below him, and, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the responsibility for collisions by any skier with any other skier or person shall be solely that of the skier or person involved and not that of the operator, and the responsibility for the collision with any obstruction, man-made or otherwise, shall be solely that of the skier and not that of the operator, provided that such obstruction is properly marked pursuant to the regulations promulgated by the board. No skier shall ski on any ski slope or trail or portion thereof which has been designated closed, nor ski on other than an identified trail, slope or ski area. Any person skiing on other than an open slope or trail within the ski area shall be responsible for any injuries resulting from his action. A skier shall be presumed to know the range of his own ability to ski on any slope, trail or area. A skier shall be presumed to know of the existence of certain unavoidable risks inherent in the sport of skiing, which shall include, but not be limited to, variations in terrain, surface or subsurface snow, ice conditions or bare spots, and shall assume the risk of injury or loss caused by such inherent risks. A skier shall, prior to his entrance onto the slope or trail, other than one designated for cross-country skiing, or embarking on any recreational tramway, have attached on his skis, a strap or other device for the purpose of restraining or preventing a runaway ski. A ski area operator who finds a person in violation of this section, may issue an oral warning to that individual. A person who fails to heed the warning issued by such ski area operator shall forfeit his recreational tramway ticket and recreational tramway use privileges and may be refused issuance of another such ticket to the recreational tramway.

HISTORY: 1978, 455, § 4; 1987, 287.

NOTES: Editorial Note

Acts 1978, Ch. 455, § 4, replaced former §§ 71N and 71Owith §§ 71N through 71S; the former provisions of §§ 71N and 71Oare now contained in §§ 71R and 71S, respectively.

The 1987 amendment, added the fifth and sixth sentences of the second paragraph, relating to the areas of knowledge presumed to be possessed by skiers.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

Recreational tramway board; adopting administrative regulations, 526 CMR 2.01 et seq.

Ski safety signs for downhill and cross-country skiing, 526 CMR 8.01 et seq.

Jurisprudence

57A Am Jur 2d, Negligence §§ 258 et seq., 272 et seq.

15 Am Jur Trials 147, Skiing Accident Litigation.

Law Reviews

Dahlstrom, From Recreational Skiing to Criminally Negligent Homicide: A Comparison of United States’ Ski Laws in the Wake of People v. Hall.30 NE J on Crim & Civ Con 209 (Summer, 2004)

Centner, Equestrian Immunity and Sport Responsibility Statutes: Altering Obligations and Placing Them on Participants. 13 Vill. Sports & Ent. L.J. 37 (2006).

CASE NOTES

ALM GL c 71O, insulating ski area operator from liability for collisions between skiers, did not apply where plaintiff/skier was struck from behind by ski patrol member. Tilley v. Brodie Mountain Ski Area, Inc. (1992) 412 Mass 1009, 591 NE2d 202, 1992 Mass LEXIS 273.

ALM GL c 143 § 71O does not exempt ski area operator from liability for injuries caused by its agent. Tilley v. Brodie Mountain Ski Area, Inc. (1992) 412 Mass 1009, 591 NE2d 202, 1992 Mass LEXIS 273.

Summary judgment in favor of ski area operator was appropriate where plaintiff was skier, who slipped while approaching ski lift, since ALM GL c 143 § 71N specifically excludes liability for injury to skier arising out of risks inherent in sport of skiing, and a skier accepts, as a matter of law, risk that he or she might be injured in manner that falls within statutorily specified risks as well as risks contemplated by statutory scheme. Fetzner v. Jiminy Peak, The Mountain Resort (1995) 1995 Mass App Div 55, 1995 Mass App Div LEXIS 30.

Ski area operator was not liable for injuries sustained by skier who, after skiing over clumps of ice on trail, lost control and skied off trail edge into woods, since injuries arose out of risks inherent in skiing, and skier failed to control speed and direction. Spinale v. Pam F., Inc. (1995) 1995 Mass App Div 140, 1995 Mass App Div LEXIS 66.

Massachusetts Ski Safety Act (Act), ALM GL c 143, §§ 71N, 71O, was not intended to include a non-skiing sport like snow tubing; the Act did not relieve a ski operator from a claim for injuries from a snow tubing accident, and the ski operator’s summary judgment motion was denied. Burden v. Amesbury Sports Park, Inc. (2003, Super Ct) 16 Mass L Rep 744, 2003 Mass Super LEXIS 276.

Because snowboarders were included within the definition of “skiers” found in ALM GL c 143, § 71I, under ALM GL c 143, § 71O, a ski area operator and an instructor were not liable to a snowboarder who was injured when she ran into the instructor who was standing at the side of a ski hill. Rich v. Tamarack Ski Corp. (2008) 24 Mass L Rep 448, 2008 Mass. Super. LEXIS 324.

Although a ski area operator had a general duty to operate the ski areas under its control in a reasonably safe manner, pursuant to ALM GL c 143, § 71N(6), because a racing skier’s collision with a lift tower stanchion was off the race course and off the trail, ALM GL c 143, § 71O, placed the duty to avoid collisions on the skier alone. Brush v. Jiminy Peak Mt. Resort, Inc. (2009) 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52204.

In applying ALM GL c 143, § 71O, while it may be unreasonable to presume that a child learning to ski knows the range of his own ability to ski on any slope, trail or area, a similar presumption cannot be applied to collegiate competitive skiers. Brush v. Jiminy Peak Mt. Resort, Inc. (2009) 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52204.

In a negligence action brought by an inexperienced skier who was seriously injured when she struck a snow gun while skiing on a low intermediate trail, even though the ski area operator’s trail markings did not violate the Massachusetts Ski Safety Act, ALM GL c 143, § 71N, or contribute to the accident and even though the skier had an obligation under ALM GL c 143, § 71O to avoid collisions with an object so long as the object was not improperly marked, the ski area operator was not entitled to summary judgment on all the negligence claims because there were factual disputes remaining as to whether the snow gun was adequately marked and padded. Peresypa v. Jiminy Peak Mt. Resort, Inc. (2009) 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84417.

§ 71P. Recreational Tramways — Actions Against Ski Area Operators.

For the purpose of sections seventy-one I to seventy-one R, inclusive, in any action brought against a ski area operator based on negligence, it shall be evidence of due care where the conduct of an operator has conformed with the provisions of this chapter or rules or regulations of the board made pursuant to section seventy-one J.

No action shall be maintained against a ski area operator for injury to a skier unless as a condition precedent thereof the person so injured shall, within ninety days of the incident, give to such ski area operator notice, by registered mail, of the name and address of the person injured, the time, place and cause of the injury. Failure to give the foregoing notice shall bar recovery, unless the court finds under the circumstances of the particular case that such ski area operator had actual knowledge of said injury or had reasonable opportunity to learn of said injury within said ninety-day period, or was otherwise not substantially prejudiced by reason of not having been given actual written notice of said injury within said period. In a case where lack of written notice, actual knowledge, or a reasonable opportunity to obtain knowledge of any injury within said ninety-day period is alleged by such ski area operator, the burden of proving substantial prejudice shall be on the operator.

An action to recover for such injury shall be brought within one year of the date of such injury.

HISTORY: 1978, 455, § 4.

NOTES: Cross References

Limitation of actions, generally, ALM GL c 260 § 1 et seq.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

Ski safety signs for downhill and cross-country skiing, 526 CMR 8.01 et seq.

Jurisprudence

57A Am Jur 2d, Negligence § 9.

58 Am Jur 2d, Notice §§ 1-4, 27.

15 Am Jur Trials 177, Skiing Accident Litigation.

20 Am Jur Proof of Facts 2d 1, Liability for Skiing Accident.

46 Am Jur Proof of Facts 3d 1, Liability of Skier for Collision with Another Skier.

Law Review References

Centner, Equestrian Immunity and Sport Responsibility Statutes: Altering Obligations and Placing Them on Participants. 13 Vill. Sports & Ent. L.J. 37 (2006).

CASE NOTES

Word “injury” as used in section does not include death. Grass v. Catamount Dev. Corp. (1983) 390 Mass 551, 457 NE2d 627, 1983 Mass LEXIS 1783.

Legislature did not intend to give ski industry same degree of protection from wrongful death claims as from claims of personal injury. Grass v. Catamount Dev. Corp. (1983) 390 Mass 551, 457 NE2d 627, 1983 Mass LEXIS 1783.

Statute of limitations for action for wrongful death arising out of injury to skier and brought against operator of ski area is GL c 229 § 2, the wrongful death statute, not GL c 143 § 71P. Grass v. Catamount Dev. Corp. (1983) 390 Mass 551, 457 NE2d 627, 1983 Mass LEXIS 1783.

Action by injured skier against ski area operator is governed by one-year limitations of action provision of GL c 143 § 71P, where plaintiff’s theories of recovery were negligence and breach of warranty as well as breach of contract, in renting defective ski equipment. Atkins v. Jiminy Peak, Inc. (1987) 401 Mass 81, 514 NE2d 850, 1987 Mass LEXIS 1497.

One-year limitation period in GL c 143 § 71P is not applicable only to action for violation of duty prescribed by GL c 143 § 71N but applies to all personal injury actions brought by skiers against ski area operator arising out of skiing injuries. Atkins v. Jiminy Peak, Inc. (1987) 401 Mass 81, 514 NE2d 850, 1987 Mass LEXIS 1497.

Legislature concluded that short period for commencement of action against ski area operator was in public interest, because of threat to economic stability of owners and operators of ski areas from personal injury claims. Atkins v. Jiminy Peak, Inc. (1987) 401 Mass 81, 514 NE2d 850, 1987 Mass LEXIS 1497.

One-year limitation period applies to actions brought against ski area operators seeking compensation for injuries sustained while skiing. Atkins v. Jiminy Peak, Inc. (1987) 401 Mass 81, 514 NE2d 850, 1987 Mass LEXIS 1497.

Personal injury action against ski area operators is barred by ALM GL c 143 § 71P, where Massachusetts resident on March 1, 1991 sued New Hampshire ski resort corporation in Massachusetts federal district court for injury suffered at resort on March 2, 1989, because Massachusetts conflict rules call for application of one-year Massachusetts limitations period for actions against ski area operators, instead of New Hampshire’s 2-year statute of limitations. Tidgewell v. Loon Mountain Recreation Corp. (1993, DC Mass) 820 F Supp 630, 1993 US Dist LEXIS 6457.

§ 71Q. Recreational Tramways — Leaving Scene of Skiing Accident.

Any person who is knowingly involved in a skiing accident and who departs from the scene of such accident without leaving personal identification or otherwise clearly identifying himself and obtaining assistance knowing that any other person involved in the accident is in need of medical or other assistance shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars.

HISTORY: 1978, 455, § 4.

NOTES: Cross References

Fine and or imprisonment for leaving scene of accident involving automobiles, ALM GL c 90 § 24.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

Ski safety signs for downhill and cross-country skiing, 526 CMR 8.01 et seq.

Law Review References

Centner, Equestrian Immunity and Sport Responsibility Statutes: Altering Obligations and Placing Them on Participants. 13 Vill. Sports & Ent. L.J. 37 (2006).

§ 71R. Recreational Tramways — Penalties for Violations of §§ 71K and 71N or of Regulations Promulgated Under § 71J.

Whoever violates any provision of section 71K, 71N, or any rule or regulation made under the provisions of section 71J, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars; provided, however, that any person who operates a recreational tramway, after the license therefor has been suspended or revoked, shall be punished by a fine of one hundred dollars for each day of such operation.

HISTORY: 1968, 565, § 1; 1978, 455, § 4.

NOTES: Editorial Note

This section incorporates the provisions of former § 71N, 25 renumbered and amended by the 1978 act, to include the reference to violations of new § 71N and to increase the fine from $100 to $200 for violations other than operating on a suspended or revoked license, for which the daily fine was increased from $50 to $100.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

Ski safety signs for downhill and cross-country skiing, 526 CMR 8.01 et seq.

Law Review References

§ 71S. Recreational Tramways — Applicability of Other Chapters; Jurisdiction of Public Utilities Department.

Recreational tramways shall not be subject to the provisions of chapters one hundred and fifty-nine, one hundred and sixty, one hundred and sixty-one, and one hundred and sixty-two, and shall not be subject to the jurisdiction or control of the department of telecommunications and energy.

HISTORY: 1968, 565, § 1; 1978, 455, § 4; 1997, 164, § 114.

NOTES: Editorial Note

This section contains the provisions of former § 71O, as renumbered by the 1978 act without amendment, except for 2 minor corrective changes.

The 1997 amendment, effective Nov 25, 1997, substituted “telecommunications and energy” for “public utilities”. Section 1 of the amending act provides as follows:

Section 1. It is hereby found and declared that:

(a) electricity service is essential to the health and well-being of all residents of the commonwealth, to public safety, and to orderly and sustainable economic development;

(b) affordable electric service should he available to all consumers on reasonable terms and conditions;

(c) ratepayers and the commonwealth will be best served by moving from (i) the regulatory framework extant on July 1, 1997, in which retail electricity service is provided principally by public utility corporations obligated to provide ultimate consumers in exclusive service territories with reliable electric service at regulated rates, to (ii) a framework under which competitive producers will supply electric power and customers will gain the right to choose their electric power supplier;

(d) the existing regulatory system results in among the highest, residential and commercial electricity rates paid by customers throughout the United States;

(e) such extraordinary high electricity rates have created significant adverse effects on consumers and on the ability of businesses located in the commonwealth to compete in regional, national, and international markets;

(f) the introduction of competition in the electric generation market will encourage innovation, efficiency, and improved service from all market participants, and will enable reductions in the cost of regulatory oversight;

(g) competitive markets in generation should (i) provide electricity suppliers with the incentive to operate efficiently, (ii) open markets for new and improved technologies, (iii) provide electricity buyers and sellers with appropriate price signals, and (iv) improve public confidence in the electric utility industry;

(h) since reliable electric service is of utmost importance to the safety, health, and welfare of the commonwealth’s citizens and economy, electric industry restructuring should enhance the reliability of the interconnected regional transmission systems, and provide strong coordination and enforceable protocols for all users of the power grid;

(i) it is vital that sufficient supplies of electric generation will be available to maintain the reliable service to the citizens and businesses of the commonwealth; and that.

(j) the commonwealth should ensure that universal service are energy conservation policies, activities, and services are appropriately funded and available throughout the commonwealth, and should guard against the exercise of vertical market power and the accumulation of horizontal market power;

(k) long-term rate reductions can be achieved most effectively by increasing competition and enabling broad consumer choice in generation service, thereby allowing market forces to play the principal role in determining the suppliers of generation for all customers;

(l) the primary elements of a more competitive electricity market will be customer choice, preservation and augmentation of consumer protections, full and fair competition in generation, and enhanced environmental protection goals;

(m) the interests of consumers can best be served by an expedient and orderly transition from regulation to competition in the generation sector consisting of the unbundling of prices and services and the functional separation of generation services from transmission and distribution services;

(n) the restructuring of the existing electricity system should not undermine the policy of the commonwealth that electricity bills for low income residents should remain as affordable as possible;

(o) the commonwealth should enter into a compact with the other New England states and New York State, that provides incentives for the public and investor owned electricity utilities located in such states to sell energy to retail customers in Massachusetts which adheres to enforceable standards and protocols and protects the reliability of interconnected regional transmission and distribution systems;

(p) since reliable electricity service depends on conscientious inspection and maintenance of transmission and distribution systems, to continue and enhance the reliability of the delivery of electricity, the regional network and the commonwealth, the department of telecommunications and energy should set stringent and comprehensive inspection, maintenance, repair, replacement, and system service standards;

(q) the transition to expanded customer choice and competitive markets may produce hardships for employees whose working lives were dedicated to their employment;

(r) it is preferable that possible reductions in the workforce directly caused by electricity restructuring be accomplished through collective bargaining negotiations and offers of voluntary severance, retraining, early retirement, outplacement, and related benefits;

(s) the transition to a competitive generation market should be orderly and be completed as expeditiously as possible, should protect electric system reliability, and should provide electricity corporation investors with a reasonable opportunity to recover prudently incurred costs associated with generation-related assets and obligations, within a reasonable and fair deregulation framework consistent with the provisions of this act;

(t) the recovery of such prudently incurred costs shall occur only after such electric companies take all practicable measures to mitigate stranded investments during the transition to a competitive market;

(u) such charges associated with the transition should be collected over a specific period of time on a non-bypassable basis and in a manner that does not result in an increase in rates to customers of electricity corporations;

(v) financial mechanisms should be available that allow electricity corporations to securitize that portion of their transition costs which cannot be divested in the marketplace and which concurrently minimize transition charges to consumers;

(w) the initial benefit of this transition to a competitive market shall result in consumer electricity rate reductions of at least 10 per cent beginning on March 1, 1998, as part of an aggregate rate reduction totaling at least 15 per cent upon the subsequent approval of divestiture and securitization; and.

(x) the general court seeks, through the enactment of this legislation, to establish the parameters upon which a restructuring of the electricity industry shall be based and which reflects the public policy decisions for the commonwealth designed to balance the needs of all participants in the existing and future systems;

Therefore, it is found that it is in the public interest of the commonwealth to promote the property and general welfare of its citizens, a public purpose for which public money may be expended, by restructuring the electricity industry in the commonwealth to foster competition and promote reduced electricity rates through the enactment of the following statutory changes.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

Ski safety signs for downhill and cross-country skiing, 526 CMR 8.01 et seq.

Law Review References