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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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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.

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

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

Scott Kondrad, a minor, by and through Shari McPhail as next friend, Plaintiff and Appellant v. Bismarck Park District, Defendant and Appellee

No. 20020196

Supreme Court of North Dakota

2003 ND 4; 655 N.W.2d 411; 2003 N.D. LEXIS 3

January 17, 2003, Filed

Prior History:      [***1] Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Bruce A. Romanick, Judge.

Disposition:    AFFIRMED.

Counsel: Michael Ray Hoffman, Bismarck, N.D., for plaintiff and appellant.

Randall J. Bakke, Smith Bakke Oppegard Porsborg Wolf, Bismarck, N.D., for defendant and appellee.

Judges: Opinion of the Court by Maring, Justice. Mary Muehlen Maring, William A.

Neumann, Dale V. Sandstrom, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.

Opinion By: Mary Muehlen Maring

Opinion

[**412] Maring, Justice.

[*P1] Scott Kondrad, a minor, by and through his mother, Shari McPhail, as next friend, appealed from a summary judgment dismissing his action for damages against the Bismarck Park District for injuries suffered in a bicycle accident.

We hold a waiver and release signed by McPhail exonerates the Park District for its alleged negligence in this case, and we affirm.

I

[*P2] The bicycle accident occurred on September 9, 1999, at the Pioneer Elementary School while Kondrad was [***2] participating in BLAST, an after-school care program operated by the Park District. Kondrad fell on the school grounds while riding a bicycle owned by a child who was not part of the BLAST program. Kondrad injured his arm in the fall, and McPhail subsequently sued the Park District for damages on Kondrad’s behalf, asserting Kondrad’s injuries were the result of the Park District’s negligent supervision of the children in the BLAST program. The Park District moved for a summary judgment, claiming McPhail had released the Park District from liability for the accident.

The district court construed the waiver and release signed by McPhail, determined it exonerated the Park District from liability, and granted the Park District’s motion for dismissal of the case.

II

[*P3] On appeal, Kondrad asserts the district court erred in granting the summary judgment dismissal and in concluding that the waiver and release signed by McPhail exonerated the Park District from liability for its alleged negligence.

[*P4] Summary judgment under N.D.R.Civ.P. 56 is a procedural device for properly disposing of a lawsuit without trial if, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to [***3] the nonmoving party, there are no genuine issues of material fact or conflicting inferences which can reasonably be drawn from undisputed facts, or if the only issues to be resolved are questions of law. Jose v. Norwest Bank, 1999 ND 175, P7, 599 N.W.2d 293. Whether the district court properly granted summary judgment is a question of law and is reviewed de novo. Garofalo v. St. Joseph’s Hosp., 2000 ND 149, P6, 615 N.W.2d 160. On appeal, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion for summary judgment, giving that party the benefit of all favorable inferences that reasonably can be drawn from the evidence. Olander [**413] Contracting Co. v. Gail Wachter Invs., 2002 ND 65, P9, 643 N.W.2d 29.

[*P5] Resolution of this appeal requires us to interpret the “Parent Agreement” signed by McPhail when she enrolled Kondrad in the BLAST program, which included the following waiver and release language:

I recognize and acknowledge that there are certain risks of physical injury to participant in this program and I agree to assume the full risk of any such injuries, damages or loss regardless of [***4] severity which I or my child/ward may sustain as a result of participating in any activities associated with this program. I waive and relinquish all claims that I, my insurer, or my child/ward may have against the Park District and its officers, servants, and employees from any and all claims from injuries, damages or loss which I or my child/ward may have or which may accrue to me or my child/ward on account of my participation of my child/ward in this program.

Kondrad argues this language must be interpreted as exonerating the Park District from liability for damages only as to injuries sustained during “activities associated with” the BLAST program. The Park District has conceded that riding a bicycle was not an activity associated with the program. Kondrad asserts the release does not, therefore, exonerate the Park District from liability if its negligence resulted in Kondrad incurring injuries while riding the bicycle. The Park District asserts the waiver is unambiguous and released the Park District from liability for any and all injuries sustained by Kondrad while participating in the BLAST program. The Park District argues the waiver and release exonerated it from [***5] liability for negligence resulting in injury or damages to Kondrad while participating in the program irrespective of whether, at the time of the injury, Kondrad was involved in a planned activity associated with the program.

[*P6] Generally, the law does not favor contracts exonerating parties from liability for their conduct. Reed v. Univ. of North Dakota, 1999 ND 25, P22, 589 N.W.2d 880. However, the parties are bound by clear and unambiguous language evidencing an intent to extinguish liability, even though exculpatory clauses are construed against the benefitted party. Id. When a contract is reduced to writing, the intention of the parties is to be ascertained from the writing alone, if possible. N.D.C.C. § 9-07-04; Meide v. Stenehjem ex rel. State, 2002 ND 128, P7, 649 N.W.2d 532. The construction of a written contract to determine its legal effect is a question of law for the court to decide, and, on appeal, this Court will independently examine and construe the contract to determine if the trial court erred in its interpretation of it. Egeland v. Continental Res., Inc., 2000 ND 169, P10, 616 N.W.2d 861. [***6] The issue whether a contract is ambiguous is a question of law. Lenthe Invs., Inc. v. Serv. Oil, Inc., 2001 ND 187, P14, 636 N.W.2d 189. An unambiguous contract is particularly amenable to summary judgment. Meide, 2002 ND 128, P7, 649 N.W.2d 532.

[*P7] We conclude the language of waiver and release under the agreement signed by McPhail is clear and unambiguous. We construe all provisions of a contract together to give meaning to every sentence, phrase, and word. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. Koenig, 2002 ND 137, P9, 650 N.W.2d 820. The assumption of risk and waiver clauses are separate and distinct. Each contains a clearly expressed meaning and consequence. Under the assumption of risk clause, McPhail agreed to assume the full risk of injury and damages resulting from Kondrad participating in [**414] any activities associated with the BLAST program. In addition, under the waiver and release clause, McPhail waived and relinquished all claims against the Park District for injuries or damages incurred on account of Kondrad’s participation in the BLAST program. The language of waiver and release is not limited to only those injuries incurred [***7] while participating in activities associated with the program, but to all injuries incurred by the child on account of his participation in the program.

[*P8] It is undisputed that Kondrad’s bicycle accident occurred on the school grounds while Kondrad was participating in the BLAST program. This is the very type of situation for which the Park District, under the release language, insulated itself from liability for alleged negligence while operating the after-school care program. Under the unambiguous language of the agreement, McPhail exonerated the Park District from liability for injury and damages incurred by Kondrad while participating in the program and caused by the alleged negligence of the Park District. 1

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – Footnotes – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -1

Under N.D.C.C. § 9-08-02 a party is precluded from contractually exonerating itself from liability for willful acts. See Reed v. Univ. of North Dakota, 1999 ND 25, P22 n.4, 589 N.W.2d 880. The release in this case is not specifically limited to exonerating the Park District from liability for only negligent conduct.

However, Kondrad’s claim against the Park District is based on negligence, and he has not argued the release is invalid because it purports to exonerate the Park District from liability for intentional or willful acts. We do not, therefore, address that issue in this opinion.

– – – – – – – – – – – – End Footnotes- – – – – – – – – – – – – –

[***8] III

[*P9] We hold the Parent Agreement signed by McPhail clearly and unambiguously exonerates the Park District for injuries sustained by Kondrad while participating in the BLAST program and which were allegedly caused by the negligent conduct of the Park District. We further hold, therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment dismissing Kondrad’s action against the Park District, and we affirm.

[*P10] Mary Muehlen Maring

William A. Neumann

Dale V. Sandstrom

Carol Ronning Kapsner

Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.

WordPress Tags: McPhail,Bismarck,Park,District,LEXIS,Scott,Kondrad,Shari,friend,Plaintiff,Appellant,Defendant,Appellee,Supreme,Court,North,Dakota,January,Prior,History,Appeal,Burleigh,South,Central,Judicial,Honorable,Bruce,Romanick,Judge,Disposition,Counsel,Michael,Hoffman,Randall,Bakke,Smith,Oppegard,Porsborg,Wolf,Judges,Opinion,Justice,Mary,Muehlen,William,Neumann,Dale,Sandstrom,Carol,Kapsner,Gerald,VandeWalle,judgment,action,injuries,bicycle,accident,waiver,negligence,September,Pioneer,Elementary,School,BLAST,supervision,dismissal,Summary,device,lawsuit,fact,inferences,Jose,Norwest,Bank,Whether,Garofalo,Joseph,Hosp,Olander,Gail,Wachter,Invs,Resolution,Parent,Agreement,injury,participant,ward,insurer,officers,servants,employees,account,participation,Univ,clauses,intention,Meide,Stenehjem,State,construction,interpretation,Egeland,Continental,Lenthe,Serv,Koenig,assumption,consequence,Under,clause,addition,situation,Footnotes


North Dakota Skier Safety Act

North Dakota Skier Safety Act

NORTH DAKOTA CENTURY CODE

TITLE 53  Sports and Amusements 

CHAPTER 53-09  Skiing Responsibility Act

Go to the North Dakota Code Archive Directory

N.D. Cent. Code, § 53-09-01  (2013)

53-09-01.  Legislative purpose.

  The legislative assembly finds that the sport of skiing is practiced in this state by a growing number of North Dakota citizens and nonresidents. Since it is recognized that there are inherent risks in the sport of skiing which should be understood by each skier and which are essentially impossible to eliminate by the ski area operator, it is the purpose of this chapter to define those areas of responsibility and affirmative acts for which ski area operators shall be liable for loss, damage, or injury and those risks which the skier expressly assumes and for which there can be no recovery.

HISTORY: S.L. 1979, ch. 532, § 2.

NOTES: 

Because this chapter bears a close correspondence to the legislative intent and does not create an impermissible classification, it does not violate the state’s constitutional guarantee to equal protection of the laws. Bouchard v. Johnson, 555 N.W.2d 81 (N.D. 1996).

Because this chapter applies to all persons operating a skiing facilty within the state, this is a permissible class and does not create a special law, as prohibited by the N.D. Const., Art. IV, § 13. Bouchard v. Johnson, 555 N.W.2d 81 (N.D. 1996).

Because this chapter does not operate as an absolute bar to recovery, it did not act as a denial of plaintiff’s access to the courts, as protected by the N.D. Const., Art. I, § 9. Bouchard v. Johnson, 555 N.W.2d 81 (N.D. 1996).

Go to Topic List Legislative Intent.

The legislative goal of this chapter is to limit the liability for ski facility operators from some of the inherent risks associated with skiing. Bouchard v. Johnson, 555 N.W.2d 81 (N.D. 1996).

Collateral References.

27A Am. Jur. 2d, Entertainment and Sports Law, §§ 54-66, 86, 95-98.

Liability of operator of skiing, tobagganing, or bobsledding facilities for injury to patron or participant, 94 A.L.R.2d 1431.

Liability for injury or death from ski lift, ski tow or similar device, 95 A.L.R.3d 203.

Ski resort’s liability for skier’s injuries resulting from condition of ski run or slope, 55 A.L.R.4th 632.

Skier’s liability for injuries to or death of another person, 75 A.L.R.5th 583.

53-09-02.  Definitions.

  The following words and phrases when used in this chapter have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meaning given to them in this section:

   1. “Aerial passenger tramway” means any device operated by a ski area operator used to transport passengers, by single or double reversible tramway; chairlift or gondola lift; t-bar lift, j-bar lift, platter lift, or similar device; or a fiber rope tow.

   2. “Passenger” means any person who is lawfully using an aerial passenger tramway or is waiting to embark or has recently disembarked from an aerial passenger tramway and is in its immediate vicinity.

   3. “Ski area” means property owned or leased and under the control of the ski area operator and administered as a single enterprise within the state of North Dakota.

   4. “Ski area operator” means any person, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or other commercial entity and their agents, officers, managers, employees, or representatives, who has operational responsibility for any ski area or aerial passenger tramway.

   5. “Ski slopes and trails” means those areas designed by the ski area operator to be used by skiers for the purpose of participating in the sport of skiing.

   6. “Skier” means any person present at a skiing area under the control of the ski operator for the purpose of engaging in the sport of skiing by utilizing the ski slopes and trails and does not include the use of an aerial passenger tramway.

   7. “Skiing area” means all slopes and trails not including any aerial passenger tramway.

HISTORY: S.L. 1979, ch. 532, § 3; 1993, ch. 54, § 106.

53-09-03.  Duties of ski operators with respect to ski areas.

  Every ski operator shall have the following duties with respect to its operation of a skiing area:

   1. To mark all trail maintenance vehicles and to furnish such vehicles with flashing or rotating lights which must be in operation whenever the vehicles are working or are in movement in the skiing area.

   2. To mark with a visible sign or other warning implement the location of any hydrant or similar equipment used in snowmaking operations and located on ski slopes and trails.

   3. To mark conspicuously the top or entrance to each slope, trail, or area with the appropriate symbol for its relative degree of difficulty and those slopes, trails, or areas which are closed, or portions of which present an unusual obstacle, must be marked at the top or entrance with appropriate symbols.

   4. To maintain one or more trail boards at prominent locations at each ski area displaying that area’s network of ski trails and slopes with each trail and slope rated thereon in accordance with the symbols provided for in subsection 3.

   5. To designate by trail board or other means which trails or slopes are open or closed.

   6. To place, or cause to be placed, whenever snow grooming or snowmaking operations are being undertaken upon any trail or slope while such trail or slope is open to the public, a conspicuous notice to that effect at or near the top of such trail or slope.

   7. To post notice, at or near the boarding area for each aerial passenger tramway designed to transport passengers with skis attached to boots, of the requirements of this chapter concerning the use of ski retention devices. This obligation is the sole requirement imposed upon the ski area operator regarding the requirement for or use of ski retention devices.

HISTORY: S.L. 1979, ch. 532, § 4.

NOTES: 

There should be no liability for a ski area operator if the design of the ski run creates natural conditions, necessary to the enjoyment of the sport, and the design is so obviously dangerous the skier assumes the risk. Bouchard v. Johnson, 555 N.W.2d 81 (N.D. 1996).

Go to Topic List Nonexclusive List.

This section is a nonexclusive list of duties for ski facility operators. Bouchard v. Johnson, 555 N.W.2d 81 (N.D. 1996).

53-09-04.  Duties of ski area operators with respect to aerial passenger tramways.

  Every ski area operator shall have the duty to construct, operate, maintain, and repair any aerial passenger tramway in a safe and responsible manner.

HISTORY: S.L. 1979, ch. 532, § 5.

53-09-05.  Duties of passengers.

  Every passenger shall have the duty not to:

   1. Board or embark upon or disembark from an aerial passenger tramway except at an area designated for such purpose.

   2. Intentionally drop, throw, or expel any object from an aerial passenger tramway.

   3. Do any act which interferes with the running or operation of an aerial passenger tramway.

   4. Use any aerial passenger tramway unless the passenger has the ability to use it safely without any instruction on its use by the ski area operator or requests and receives instructions before entering the boarding area of the aerial passenger tramway.

   5. Engage in any harmful conduct or willfully or negligently engage in any type of conduct which contributes to or causes injury to another person.

   6. Embark on an aerial passenger tramway without the authority of the ski area operator.

   7. Use any aerial passenger tramway without engaging such safety or restraining devices as may be provided.

   8. Wear skis without properly securing ski retention straps.

HISTORY: S.L. 1979, ch. 532, § 6.

53-09-06.  Duties of skiers.

  It is recognized that skiing as a recreational sport is hazardous to skiers, regardless of all feasible safety measures which can be taken. Each skier expressly assumes the risk of and legal responsibility for any injury to person or property which results from participation in the sport of skiing including any injury caused by the following: variations in terrain; surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions; bare spots, rocks, trees, or other forms of forest growth or debris, lift towers and components thereof; pole lines; and snowmaking equipment which are plainly visible or are plainly marked in accordance with the provisions of section 53-09-03. Therefore, each skier shall have the sole individual responsibility for knowing the range of that skier’s own ability to negotiate any slope, trail, or aerial passenger tramway, and it is the duty of each skier to ski within the limits of the skier’s own ability, to make reasonable control of speed and course at all times while skiing, to heed all posted warnings, to ski only on a skiing area designated by the ski area operator, and to refrain from acting in a manner which may cause or contribute to the injury of anyone. The responsibility for collisions by any skier while actually skiing, with any person or object, is solely that of the individual or individuals involved in such collision and not that of the ski area operator. No person may:

   1. Unless authorized by the ski area operator, place any object in the skiing area or on the uphill track of any aerial passenger tramway which may cause a passenger or skier to fall.

   2. Cross the track of a t-bar lift, j-bar lift, platter lift or similar device, or a fiber rope tow except at a designated location.

   3. Fail to wear retention straps or other devices to help prevent runaway skis.

HISTORY: S.L. 1979, ch. 532, § 7.

53-09-07.  Liability of ski area operators.

  Any ski area operator is liable for loss or damages caused by its failure to follow the duties set forth in sections 53-09-03 and 53-09-04 when the violation of duty is causally related to loss or damage suffered. A ski area operator is not liable to any passenger or skier acting in violation of the passenger’s or skier’s duties as set forth in sections 53-09-05 and 53-09-06, when the violation of duty by the passenger or skier is causally related to the loss or damage suffered; nor is a ski area operator liable for any loss or damage caused by any object dropped, thrown, or expelled by a passenger from an aerial passenger tramway.

HISTORY: S.L. 1979, ch. 532, § 8.

53-09-08.  Liability of passengers.

  Any passenger is liable for loss or damages resulting from violation of the duties set forth in section 53-09-05 and shall not be able to recover from the ski area operator for any losses or damages when a violation of the duties set forth in section 53-09-05 is causally related to the loss or damage suffered by the passenger.

HISTORY: S.L. 1979, ch. 532, § 9.

53-09-09.  Liability of skiers.

  Any skier is liable for loss or damages resulting from violation of the duties set forth in section 53-09-06 and shall not be able to recover from the ski area operator for losses or damages when the violation of the skier’s duty is causally related to the loss or damage suffered by the skier.

HISTORY: S.L. 1979, ch. 532, § 10.