Colorado Federal District Court judge references a ski area lift ticket in support of decision granting the ski area’s motion for summary judgment and dismissing the lawsuit.

The Federal District Court in this case used the language of the lift ticket to support the defendant ski area’s motion for summary judgment. The decision  also says the release is valid for lift accidents in Colorado closing one of the last gaps in suits against ski areas in Colorado.

Rumpf v. Sunlight, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107946

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

Plaintiff: Sally Rumpf & Louis Rumpf

Defendant: Sunlight, Inc.

Plaintiff Claims: negligence, negligence per se, and loss of consortium

Defendant Defenses: (1) they are barred by the exculpatory language contained in both the ski rental agreement and the lift ticket; (2) they fail for a lack of expert testimony; and (3) that Sally Rumpf
was negligent per se under the Ski Safety Act. 

Holding: for the Defendant 

Year: 2016 

The plaintiff traveled to Glenwood Springs, Colorado to visit family and ski. She rented equipment from the
defendant ski area, Ski Sunlight and purchased a lift ticket. As required to rent the ski equipment, the plaintiff signed a release. 

While attempting to board a chair lift, the plaintiff injured her shoulder. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment which the court granted with this decision. 

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

In the statement of the facts, the court quoted from the language on the lift ticket.

Holder understands that he/she is responsible for using the ski area safely and for having the physical dexterity to safely load, ride and unload the lifts. Holder agrees to read and understand all signage and instructions and agrees to comply with them. Holder understands that he/she must control his/her speed and course at all times and maintain a proper lookout. Holder understands that snowmobiles, snowcats, and snowmaking may be encountered at any time. In consideration of using the premises, Holder agrees to ASSUME ALL RISKS associated with the activities and to HOLD HARMLESS the Ski Area and its representatives for all claims for injury to person or property. Holder agrees that any and all disputes between Holder and the Ski Area regarding an alleged incident shall be governed by COLORADO LAW  and EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION shall be in the State or Federal Courts of the State of Colorado.

What is interesting is the Colorado Skier Safety Act, C.R.S. §§ 33-44-107(8)(b) requires specific language to be on the lift ticket.

WARNING

Under Colorado law, a skier assumes the risk of any injury to person or property resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing and may not recover from any ski area operator for any injury resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing, including: Changing weather conditions; existing and changing snow conditions; bare spots; rocks; stumps; trees; collisions with natural objects, man-made objects, or other skiers; variations in terrain; and the failure of skiers to ski within their own abilities.

It is unclear from the decision, and I do not have a copy of the Ski Sunlight lift ticket, to know if the required language is on the lift ticket. However, the language that was on the lift ticket was important and used by the court to make its decision.

The language required by the Colorado Skier Safety Act speaks to the risks assumed by a skier while skiing and does not speak to any risks of a chair lift. This creates an obvious conflict in the law for a ski area. Do you use the language required by the statute or use different language that a federal judge has said was  instructive in stopping the claims of a plaintiff. 

The court found the plaintiff had read and understood the release and knew she was bound by it. The plaintiff’s argument centered on the theory that the release did not cover lift accidents based on a prior case, Bayer v. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Inc., 960 P.2d 70 (1998). That case held that a ski area owes the highest degree of care to skiers on the lift. 

Plaintiffs further argue that the exculpatory language at issue is “only applicable to ski cases when the accident or injury occurs while the plaintiff is skiing or snowboarding on the slopes,” and not when loading the ski lift. 

The Bayer decision changed the liability issues for Colorado Ski Areas. It also created the only gap in  protection for Colorado Ski Areas between the Colorado Skier Safety Act and release law. However, this was significantly modified by Brigance v. Vail Summit Resorts, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31662, reviewed in Question answered; Colorado Premises Liability Act supersedes Colorado Ski Area Safety act. Standard of care owed skiers on chairlift’s reasonable man standard?

The court then reviewed the requirements under Colorado law for releases to be valid. 

Exculpatory agreements, which attempt to insulate a party from liability for its own negligence, are generally recognized under Colorado law, but are construed narrowly and “closely scrutinized” to ensure that the agreement was fairly entered into and that the intention of the parties is expressed in clear and unambiguous language. Additionally, the  terms of exculpatory agreements must be strictly construed against the drafter. 

The court reiterated several times that it was the intent of the parties within the language of the release that was the important aspect of the release, more than the specific language of the release. This intent was  supported by the language on the lift ticket. Colorado has a 4 factor test to determine the validity of a release. 

…in determining the validity of an exculpatory agreement, the Court must consider the following factors: (1) whether the service provided involves a duty to the public; (2) the nature of the service provided; (3) whether the agreement was fairly entered into; and (4) whether the intention of the parties is expressed in clear and unambiguous language. 

Skiing in Colorado is recreational and not a service, so there is no public duty that would void a release. Because it is a service, and the plaintiff is free to go ski else where there is no adhesion so the agreement was entered into by the parties fairly. 

Adhesion was defined by the court in Colorado as:

…Colorado defines an adhesion contract as “generally not bargained for, but imposed on the public for a necessary  service on a take it or leave it basis.” However, printed form contracts offered on a take it or leave it basis, alone, do not render the agreement an adhesion contract.

For the plaintiff to win her argument, the plaintiff must show “, “that the parties were greatly disparate in bargaining power, that there was no opportunity for negotiation, or that [the] services could not be obtained elsewhere.”

The court then applied contract law to determine if the agreement was ambiguous.

“Interpretation of a written contract and the determination of whether a provision in the contract is ambiguous are questions of law.” Under Colorado law, I must examine the actual language of the agreements for legal jargon, length and complication, and any likelihood of confusion or failure of a party to recognize the full extent of the release provisions.

The court in reviewing the release found the release to clearly and unambiguously set forth the party’s intent to release the ski area from liability.

The court again backed up its decision by referring to the language on the lift ticket. 

Furthermore, the ski lift ticket specifically references safely loading, riding and unloading Sunlight’s ski lifts and provides that the “Holder agrees to ASSUME ALL RISKS associated with the activities and to HOLD HARMLESS the Ski Area and its representatives for all claims for injury to person or property.” 

As such the release was valid and stopped the claims of the plaintiff and her spouse.

So Now What?

Although the basics of the decision are familiar under Colorado law, the court’s reference to the language on the lift ticket is a departure from Colorado law and the law of most other states. See Lift tickets are not contracts and rarely work as a release in most states

Whether or not a lift ticket standing by itself is enough to stop a claim is still in the air and probably will be. The language on this lift ticket may have been different than the language required by law, which basically states the skier assumes the risk of skiing. The required statutory language does not cover any issues with loading, unloading or riding chair lifts. 

This creates a major conflict for ski areas. What do you put on the lift ticket. The statute requires specific language; however, there are no penalties for failing to put the language on the lift ticket. However, it is negligence to violate any part of the statute, if that negligence caused an injury. 

C.R.S. §§ 33-44-104. Negligence – civil actions.

(1) A violation of any requirement of this article shall, to the extent such violation causes injury to any person or damage to property, constitute negligence on the part of the person violating such requirement.

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

Failing to put the language on the lift ticket by itself could not cause an injury. The language required on the lift ticket is the same language required to be posted where ever lift tickets are sold and posted at the bottom of all base area lifts. Base area lifts are the lifts used to get up the mountain. Lifts that start further up the mountain, which require a lift right to reach don’t need the warning signs. 

My advice is to include the statutory language and much of the language of this decision on lift tickets. You just don’t want to walk into a courtroom and be accused of failing to follow the law. You might be right, but you will look bad and looking bad is the first step in writing a check. The biggest limitation is going to be the size of the lift ticket and print size.

This case, although decided before Question answered; Colorado Premises Liability Act supersedes Colorado Ski Area Safety act. Standard of care owed skiers on chairlift’s reasonable man standard? and was quoted in this decision, it adds another block into what is now an almost impregnable wall against claims from skiers in Colorado.

If you are interested in having me write your release, fill out this Information Form and Contract and send it to me.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Rumpf v. Sunlight, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107946

Rumpf v. Sunlight, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107946

Sally Rumpf & Louis Rumpf, Plaintiffs, v. Sunlight, Inc., Defendant.

Civil Action No. 14-cv-03328-WYD-KLM

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO

August 3, 2016, Decided

August 3, 2016, Filed

CORE TERMS: exculpatory, ski lift, rental agreement, lift tickets, ski, summary judgment, sports, recreational, snow, service provided, ski area, loading, skiing, language contained, unambiguous language, adhesion contract, unambiguously, exculpation, bargaining, equipment rental, loss of consortium, negligence claims, collectively, safely, riding, Ski Safety Act, question of law, ski resort, standard of care, moving party

COUNSEL: [*1] For Sally Rumpf, Louis Rumpf, Plaintiffs: Michael Graves Brownlee, Brownlee & Associates, LLC, Denver, CO USA.

For Sunlight, Inc., Defendant: Jacqueline Ventre Roeder, Jordan Lee Lipp, Davis Graham & Stubbs, LLP-Denver, Denver, CO USA.

JUDGES: Wiley Y. Daniel, Senior United States District Judge.

OPINION BY: Wiley Y. Daniel

OPINION

ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION AND RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This matter is before the Court on the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 39) and the response and reply to the motion. For the reasons stated below, Defendant’s motion is granted.

I have reviewed the record and the parties’ respective submissions, and I find the following facts to be undisputed, or if disputed, I resolve them in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs.

On December 24, 2012, Plaintiffs Sally Rumpf and her husband Louis Rumpf traveled to Glenwood Springs, Colorado to visit family and go skiing. On December 27, 2012, Plaintiffs went to Sunlight, a ski resort near Glenwood Springs. Prior to skiing, Plaintiffs rented ski equipment from Sunlight. As part of the ski rental, the Plaintiffs each executed a release, which provides in pertinent part:

I understand that the sports of skiing, snowboarding, skiboarding, [*2] snowshoeing and other sports (collectively “RECREATIONAL SNOW SPORTS”) involve inherent and other risks of INJURY and DEATH. I voluntarily agree to expressly assume all risks of injury or death that may result from these RECREATIONAL SNOW SPORTS, or which relate in any way to the use of this equipment.

* * *

I AGREE TO RELEASE AND HOLD HARMLESS the equipment rental facility, its employees, owners, affiliates, agents, officers, directors, and the equipment manufacturers and distributors and their successors in interest (collectively “PROVIDERS”), from all liability for injury, death, property loss and damage which results from the equipment user’s participation in the RECREATIONAL SNOW SPORTS for which the equipment is provided, or which is related in any way to the use of this equipment, including all liability which results from the NEGLIGENCE of PROVIDERS, or any other person or cause.

I further agree to defend and indemnify PROVIDERS for any loss or damage, including any that results from claims or lawsuits for personal injury, death, and property loss and damage related in any way to the use of this equipment.

This agreement is governed by the applicable law of this state or province. [*3] If any provision of this agreement is determined to be unenforceable, all other provisions shall be given full force and effect.

I THE UNDERSIGNED, HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THIS EQUIPMENT RENTAL & LIABILITY RELEASE AGREEMENT.

(ECF No. 39, Ex. 2) (emphasis in original).

The Plaintiffs also purchased lift tickets from Sunlight, which included the following release language:

Holder understands that he/she is responsible for using the ski area safely and for having the physical dexterity to safely load, ride and unload the lifts. Holder agrees to read and understand all signage and instructions and agrees to comply with them. Holder understands that he/she must control his/her speed and course at all times and maintain a proper lookout. Holder understands that snowmobiles, snowcats, and snowmaking may be encountered at any time. In consideration of using the premises, Holder agrees to ASSUME ALL RISKS associated with the activities and to HOLD HARMLESS the Ski Area and its representatives for all claims for injury to person or property. Holder agrees that any and all disputes between Holder and the Ski Area regarding an alleged incident shall be governed by COLORADO LAW and EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION [*4] shall be in the State or Federal Courts of the State of Colorado. …

(ECF No. 39, Ex. 4) (emphasis in original).

Plaintiff Sally Rumpf injured her shoulder when she attempted to board the Segundo chairlift at Sunlight. Plaintiffs Sally and Louis Rumpf bring this action against Defendant Sunlight alleging claims of negligence, negligence per se, and loss of consortium. (Compl. ¶¶ 21-35).1

1 Plaintiff Sally Rumpf asserts the two negligence claims while Plaintiff Louis Rumpf asserts the loss of consortium claim.

The Defendant moves for summary judgment on all three claims, arguing that (1) they are barred by the exculpatory language contained in both the ski rental agreement and the lift ticket; (2) they fail for a lack of expert testimony; and (3) that Sally Rumpf was negligent per se under the Ski Safety Act.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court may grant summary judgment where “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the … moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986); Equal Employment Opportunity Comm. v. Horizon/CMS Healthcare Corp., 220 F.3d 1184, 1190 (10th Cir. 2000). “When applying this standard, the court must ‘view [*5] the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment.'” Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Farm Credit Bank of Wichita, 226 F.3d 1138, 1148 (10th Cir. 2000) (quotation omitted). “‘Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.'” Id. (quotation omitted). Summary judgment may be granted only where there is no doubt from the evidence, with all inferences drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, that no genuine issue of material fact remains for trial and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Bee v. Greaves, 744 F.2d 1387 (10th Cir. 1984).

III. ANALYSIS

I first address Defendant’s argument that it is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ three claims for relief based on the exculpatory agreements contained in both the ski rental agreement and the lift ticket. It is undisputed that Plaintiff Sally Rumpf read and understood that she was bound by the release language on both the rental agreement and the lift ticket. (Sally Rumpf Dep. at 72:17-23, 97-8-17, 99:2-25, 101:11-25, 102:1-21, 106:6-25, 107:1-25, 108:1-25, and 109:1-7).2

2 The evidence reveals that Plaintiff Louis Rumpf also understood and agreed to the release language on both the [*6] rental agreement and the lift ticket.

Defendant argues that the exculpatory language is valid and enforceable under the four-factor test set forth in Jones v. Dressel, 623 P.2d 370, 376 (Colo. 1981). The determination of the sufficiency and validity of an exculpatory agreement is a question of law for the Court. Jones, 623 P.2d at 376. Exculpatory agreements, which attempt to insulate a party from liability for its own negligence, are generally recognized under Colorado law, but are construed narrowly and “closely scrutinized” to ensure that the agreement was fairly entered into and that the intention of the parties is expressed in clear and unambiguous language. Id. Additionally, the terms of exculpatory agreements must be strictly construed against the drafter. Heil Valley Ranch, Inc. v. Simkin, 784 P.2d 781, 784 (Colo. 1990). Pursuant to Jones, in determining the validity of an exculpatory agreement, the Court must consider the following factors: (1) whether the service provided involves a duty to the public; (2) the nature of the service provided; (3) whether the agreement was fairly entered into; and (4) whether the intention of the parties is expressed in clear and unambiguous language. Jones, 623 P.2d at 376; Heil Valley Ranch, 784 P.2d at 784, see Robinette v. Aspen Skiing Co., L.L.C., No. 08-cv-00052-MSK-MJW, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34873, 2009 WL 1108093 at *2 (D. Colo. April 23, 2009).

Based on the Plaintiffs’ response, it does not appear that they [*7] are contesting that the exculpatory language contained in the rental agreement or the lift ticket satisfies the above-mentioned Jones criteria, arguing instead that because “this case arises from a ski lift attendant’s negligence, the exculpatory release language is inapplicable and irrelevant.” (Resp. at 1). Citing Bayer v. Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Inc., 960 P.2d 70 (1998), Plaintiffs claim that Colorado law “specifically provides negligence causes of action for skiers injured getting on and getting off ski lifts.” (Resp. at 10).

In Bayer, the plaintiff was injured when he attempted to board a ski lift at Crested Butte ski resort. After the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals certified various questions to the Colorado Supreme Court, the Colorado Supreme Court held that “the standard of care applicable to ski lift operators in Colorado for the design, construction, maintenance, operation, and inspection of a ski lift, is the highest degree of care commensurate with the practical operation of the lift. Neither the Tramway Act nor the Ski Safety Act preempt or otherwise supersede this standard of care, whatever the season of operation.” Id. at 80. I agree with Defendant, however, that Bayer is not controlling here because the question of the applicability [*8] of exculpatory language was not presented.

Plaintiffs further argue that the exculpatory language at issue is “only applicable to ski cases when the accident or injury occurs while the plaintiff is skiing or snowboarding on the slopes,” and not when loading the ski lift. (Resp. at 11).

I now analyze the exculpatory language at issue using the four Jones factors mentioned above. In Jones, the court instructed that for an exculpatory agreement to fail, the party seeking exculpation must be engaged in providing a service of great importance to the public, which is often a matter of practical necessity to some members of the public. Jones, 623 P.2d at 376-77. Here, the service provided is recreational and not an essential service that gives the party seeking exculpation an unfair bargaining advantage. Thus, there is no public duty that prevents enforcement of either the ski rental agreement or the exculpatory language included in Sunlight’s lift ticket.

To the extent that Plaintiffs contend that the exculpatory language at issue was “adhesive,” I note that Colorado defines an adhesion contract as “generally not bargained for, but imposed on the public for a necessary service on a take it or leave it basis.” Id. at 374. However, [*9] printed form contracts offered on a take it or leave it basis, alone, do not render the agreement an adhesion contract. Clinic Masters v. District Court, 192 Colo. 120, 556 P.2d 473 (1976). Rather, “[t]here must a showing that the parties were greatly disparate in bargaining power, that there was no opportunity for negotiation, or that [the] services could not be obtained elsewhere.” Id. In Jones, the court held that the agreement was not an adhesion contract and the party seeking exculpation did not possess a decisive bargaining advantage “because the service provided … was not an essential service.” Jones, 623 P.2d at 377-78. Thus, here, I find that the exculpatory agreements were fairly entered into and are not adhesion contracts.

Finally, I examine whether the exculpatory agreements express the parties’ intent in clear and unambiguous language. Plaintiffs argue that loading or riding a ski lift is outside the scope of the exculpatory language set forth in both the ski rental agreement and the lift ticket.

“Interpretation of a written contract and the determination of whether a provision in the contract is ambiguous are questions of law.” Dorman v. Petrol Aspen, Inc., 914 P.2d 909, 912 (Colo. 1996). Under Colorado law, I must examine the actual language of the agreements for legal jargon, length and complication, and any likelihood of [*10] confusion or failure of a party to recognize the full extent of the release provisions. See Heil Valley Ranch 784 P.2d at 785; Chadwick v. Colt Ross Outfitters, Inc., 100 P.3d 465, 467 (Colo. 2004). Specific terms such as “negligence” or “breach of warranty” are not required to shield a party from liability. What matters is whether the intent of the parties to extinguish liability was clearly and unambiguously expressed. Heil Valley Ranch, 784 P.2d at 785.

After carefully reviewing the relevant language set forth in both the ski rental agreement and the lift ticket, I find that both agreements clearly and unambiguously express the parties’ intent to release Sunlight from liability for certain claims. When Plaintiffs executed the ski rental agreement, they agreed to

RELEASE AND HOLD HARMLESS the equipment rental facility [Sunlight], its employees, owners, affiliates, agents, officers, directors, and the equipment manufacturers and distributors and their successors in interest (collectively “PROVIDERS”), from all liability for injury … which results from the equipment user’s participation in the RECREATIONAL SNOW SPORTS for which the equipment is provided, or which is related in any way to the use of this equipment, including all liability which results from the NEGLIGENCE of PROVIDERS, or any other person or cause.

(ECF [*11] No. 39, Ex. 2) (emphasis in original). I find that this language unambiguously encompasses the use of Sunlight’s ski lifts. Furthermore, the ski lift ticket specifically references safely loading, riding and unloading Sunlight’s ski lifts and provides that the “Holder agrees to ASSUME ALL RISKS associated with the activities and to HOLD HARMLESS the Ski Area and its representatives for all claims for injury to person or property.” (ECF No. 39, Ex. 4) (emphasis in original). I find that the language at issue is neither long nor complicated and clearly expresses the intent to bar negligence claims against Sunlight arising from the participation in recreational snow sports, which includes loading or riding ski lifts. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ negligence claims and loss of consortium claim are barred by the exculpatory language contained in both the ski rental agreement and the lift ticket. Defendant’s motion for summary judgment is granted.3

3 In light of my findings in this Order, I need not address Defendant’s additional, independent arguments in support of summary judgment.

IV. CONCLUSION

Accordingly, it is

ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 39) is GRANTED. This [*12] case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, and Judgment shall enter in favor of Defendant against the Plaintiffs. It is

FURTHER ORDERED that the Defendant is awarded its costs, to be taxed by the Clerk of the Court under Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1) and D.C.COLO.LCivR 54.1.

Dated: August 3, 2016

BY THE COURT:

/s/ Wiley Y. Daniel

Wiley Y. Daniel

Senior United States District Judge


Colorado Passenger Tramway Act

COLORADO REVISED STATUTES

TITLE 25. HEALTH

PRODUCTS CONTROL AND SAFETY

ARTICLE 5.PRODUCTS CONTROL AND SAFETY

PART 7. PASSENGER TRAMWAY SAFETY

25-5-701. Legislative declaration.. 2

25-5-702. Definitions. 2

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

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

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

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

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

25-5-707. Orders – enforcement 8

25-5-708. Disciplinary proceedings. 8

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

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

25-5-711. Application for licensing. 10

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

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

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

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

25-5-716. Emergency shutdown.. 12

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

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

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

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

25-5-721. Repeal of part 14

 

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

25-5-701. Legislative declaration

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

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

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

ANNOTATION

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

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

25-5-702. Definitions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANNOTATION

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

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

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

25-5-704. Powers and duties of board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(g) To elect officers;

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

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

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

(k) To delegate duties to the program administrator;

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

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

25-5-705. Responsibilities of area operators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25-5-707. Orders – enforcement

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

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

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

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

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

25-5-708. Disciplinary proceedings

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

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

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

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

25-5-709. Passenger tramway licensing required

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANNOTATION

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

25-5-711. Application for licensing

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

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

25-5-712. Licensing of passenger tramways

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

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

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

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

(3) Repealed.

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

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

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

25-5-713. Licensing and certification fees

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

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

25-5-714. Disposition of fees and fines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25-5-716. Emergency shutdown

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

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

25-5-717. Provisions in lieu of others

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

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

ANNOTATION

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

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

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

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

ANNOTATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25-5-721. Repeal of part

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

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

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

 


Utah Skier Safety Act

Utah Skier Safety Act

UTAH CODE ANNOTATED

TITLE 78B.  JUDICIAL CODE 

CHAPTER 4.  LIMITATIONS ON LIABILITY 

PART 4.  INHERENT RISKS OF SKIING

Go to the Utah Code Archive Directory

Utah Code Ann. § 78B-4-401  (2012)

§ 78B-4-401.  Public policy

   The Legislature finds that the sport of skiing is practiced by a large number of residents of Utah and attracts a large number of nonresidents, significantly contributing to the economy of this state. It further finds that few insurance carriers are willing to provide liability insurance protection to ski area operators and that the premiums charged by those carriers have risen sharply in recent years due to confusion as to whether a skier assumes the risks inherent in the sport of skiing. It is the purpose of this act, therefore, to clarify the law in relation to skiing injuries and the risks inherent in that sport, to establish as a matter of law that certain risks are inherent in that sport, and to provide that, as a matter of public policy, no person engaged in that sport shall recover from a ski operator for injuries resulting from those inherent risks.

§ 78B-4-402.  Definitions

   As used in this part:

   (1) “Inherent risks of skiing” means those dangers or conditions which are an integral part of the sport of recreational, competitive, or professional skiing, including, but not limited to:

      (a) changing weather conditions;

      (b) snow or ice conditions as they exist or may change, such as hard pack, powder, packed powder, wind pack, corn, crust, slush, cut-up snow, or machine-made snow;

      (c) surface or subsurface conditions such as bare spots, forest growth, rocks, stumps, streambeds, cliffs, trees, and other natural objects;

      (d) variations or steepness in terrain, whether natural or as a result of slope design, snowmaking or grooming operations, and other terrain modifications such as terrain parks, and terrain features such as jumps, rails, fun boxes, and all other constructed and natural features such as half pipes, quarter pipes, or freestyle-bump terrain;

      (e) impact with lift towers and other structures and their components such as signs, posts, fences or enclosures, hydrants, or water pipes;

      (f) collisions with other skiers;

      (g) participation in, or practicing or training for, competitions or special events; and

      (h) the failure of a skier to ski within the skier’s own ability.

   (2) “Injury” means any personal injury or property damage or loss.

   (3) “Skier” means any person present in a ski area for the purpose of engaging in the sport of skiing, nordic, freestyle, or other types of ski jumping, using skis, sled, tube, snowboard, or any other device.

   (4) “Ski area” means any area designated by a ski area operator to be used for skiing, nordic, freestyle, or other type of ski jumping, and snowboarding.

   (5) “Ski area operator” means those persons, and their agents, officers, employees or representatives, who operate a ski area.

§ 78B-4-403.  Bar against claim or recovery from operator for injury from risks inherent in sport

   Notwithstanding anything in Sections 78B-5-817 through 78B-5-823 to the contrary, no skier may make any claim against, or recover from, any ski area operator for injury resulting from any of the inherent risks of skiing.

§ 78B-4-404.  Trail boards listing inherent risks and limitations on liability

   Ski area operators shall post trail boards at one or more prominent locations within each ski area which shall include a list of the inherent risks of skiing, and the limitations on liability of ski area operators, as defined in this part.

§ 72-11-201.  Passenger ropeways — Purpose and scope

   (1) In order to safeguard the life, health, property, and welfare of citizens while using passenger ropeways, it is the policy of the state to:

   (a) protect citizens and visitors from unnecessary mechanical hazards in the design, construction, and operation of passenger ropeways, but not from the hazards inherent in the sports of mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking, or from the hazards of the area served by passenger ropeways, all of which hazards are assumed by the sportsman; and

   (b) require periodic inspections of passenger ropeways to ensure that each passenger ropeway meets “The United States of America Standard Institute Safety Code for Aerial Passenger Tramways,” or an equivalent standard established by rule under Section 72-11-210.

(2) (a) Except as provided in Subsection (2)(b), the committee, through the Department of Transportation, shall:

      (i) register all passenger ropeways in the state;

      (ii) establish reasonable standards of design, construction, and operational practices; and

      (iii) make inspections as necessary to implement this section.

   (b) The committee has no jurisdiction over the construction, modification, registration, or inspection of a private residence passenger ropeway.

 


Michigan Ski Safety Act

Michigan Ski Safety Act

MICHIGAN COMPILED LAWS SERVICE

CHAPTER 408 LABOR

SKI AREA SAFETY ACT OF 1962

Go to the Michigan Code Archive Directory

MCLS prec § 408.321 (2012)

MCL § 408.321

Table of Contents

Table of Contents. 1

Preceding § 408.321. 2

§ 408.321. Ski area safety act of 1962; short title. 2

§ 408.322. Definitions. 3

§ 408.323. Ski area safety board; creation; composition; qualifications; ex officio members. 5

§ 408.324. Ski area safety board; appointment and terms of members; vacancies. 5

§ 408.326. Rules; proposed legislation establishing fee schedule. 6

§ 408.326a. Duties of ski area operator. 6

§ 408.327. Promulgation of rules. 8

§ 408.328. Commissioner of labor; administration of act. 8

§ 408.329. Ski lifts; permits requirement, inspection. 8

§ 408.330. Ski lifts; temporary permits. 9

§ 408.331. Ski lifts; permits, issuance, expiration. 9

§ 408.332. Ski lifts; erection, alteration, moving, plans and specifications; rope tows. 9

§ 408.333. Ski lifts; order to cease operation. 10

§ 408.334. Ski lifts; existing installations. 10

§ 408.335. Ski lifts; rules and regulations, modification for hardship, record. 10

§ 408.336. Ski lifts; fees. 10

§ 408.337. Chief inspector; inspection service. 11

§ 408.338. Revenue; disbursements. 11

§ 408.339. Notice of public hearing. 12

§ 408.340. Violations; penalties; rules. 12

§ 408.341. Skier conduct; prohibited conduct in ski area. 13

§ 408.342. Duties of skier in ski area; acceptance of dangers. 13

§ 408.343. Accidents causing injury; notice; identification; misdemeanor; penalty. 16

§ 408.344. Violation of act; liability. 17

Preceding § 408.321

An act to provide for the inspection, licensing, and regulation of ski areas and ski lifts; to provide for the safety of skiers, spectators, and the public using ski areas; to provide for certain presumptions relative to liability for an injury or damage sustained by skiers; to prescribe the duties of skiers and ski area operators; to create a ski area safety board; to provide for the disposition of revenues; to provide for liability for damages which result from a violation of this act; to provide civil fines for certain violations of this act; and to provide criminal penalties for certain violations of this act. (Amended by Pub Acts 1981, No. 86, imd eff July 2, 1981; 1995, No. 120, imd eff June 30, 1995.)

§ 408.321. Ski area safety act of 1962; short title.

Sec. 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “ski area safety act of 1962”.

§ 408.322. Definitions.

Sec. 2. As used in this act:

(a) “Board” means the ski area safety board.

(b) “Commissioner” means the director of commerce or an authorized representative of the director.

(c) “Department” means the state department of commerce.

(d) “Operator” means a person who owns or controls, or who has operational responsibility for, a ski area or ski lift. An operator includes this state or a political subdivision of this state.

(e) “Passenger” means a person, skier or nonskier, who boards, disembarks from, or is transported by a ski lift, regardless of whether the ski lift is being used during the skiing season or nonskiing season, and includes a person waiting for or moving away from the loading or unloading point of a ski lift.

(f) “Ski area” means an area used for skiing and served by 1 or more ski lifts.

(g) “Skier” means a person wearing skis or utilizing a device that attaches to at least 1 foot or the lower torso for the purpose of sliding on a slope. The device slides on the snow or other surface of a slope and is capable of being maneuvered and controlled by the person using the device. Skier includes a person not wearing skis or a skiing device while the person is in a ski area for the purpose of skiing.

(h) “Ski lift” means a device for transporting persons uphill on skis, or in cars on tracks, or suspended in the air by the use of cables, chains, belts, or ropes, and usually supported by trestles or towers with 1 or more spans. Ski lift includes a rope tow.

§ 408.323. Ski area safety board; creation; composition; qualifications; ex officio members.

Sec. 3. A ski area safety board consisting of 7 members is created within the office of the commissioner. The board consists of 3 ski area managers, 1 from the Upper Peninsula and 2 from the Lower Peninsula; 1 engineer with skiing experience; 1 member of the central United States ski association, a nonprofit corporation; 1 person with skiing experience from the Upper Peninsula representing the general public; and 1 with skiing experience from the Lower Peninsula representing the general public. The commissioner and an officer of the Michigan tourist council are ex officio members of the board without vote.

 

§ 408.324. Ski area safety board; appointment and terms of members; vacancies.

Sec. 4. Members of the board shall be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate for terms of 4 years and until their successors are appointed and qualified. Vacancies in the board shall be filled for the unexpired term.

 

§ 408.325. Ski area safety board; conducting business at public meeting; notice; election of chairperson and other officers; quorum; meetings; compensation and expenses.

Sec. 5. (1) The business which the board may perform shall be conducted at a public meeting of the board held in compliance with Act No. 267 of the Public Acts of 1976, being sections 15.261 to 15.275 of the Michigan Compiled Laws. Public notice of the time, date, and place of the meeting shall be given in the manner required by Act No. 267 of the Public Acts of 1976. The board shall elect a chairperson and other officers it considers necessary to perform its duties between meetings. A majority of the 7 voting members shall constitute a quorum. The board shall meet not less than once yearly on the call of the chairperson or by written request of not less than 3 members.

(2) The per diem compensation of the members of the board, other than the commissioner, and the schedule for reimbursement of expenses shall be established annually by the legislature.

§ 408.326. Rules; proposed legislation establishing fee schedule.

Sec. 6. (1) The board shall promulgate rules for the safe construction, installation, repair, use, operation, maintenance, and inspection of all ski areas and ski lifts as the board finds necessary for protection of the general public while using ski areas and ski lifts. The rules shall be reasonable and based upon generally accepted engineering standards, formulas, and practices.

(2) The board, with the advice of the commissioner, shall propose legislation to establish the fee schedule for permits, inspections, and plan review activities. The fees shall reflect the actual costs and expenses of the department for issuing permits and conducting inspections and plan reviews.

§ 408.326a. Duties of ski area operator.

Sec. 6a. Each ski area operator shall, with respect to operation of a ski area, do all of the following:

(a) Equip each snow-grooming vehicle and any other authorized vehicle, except a snowmobile, with a flashing or rotating yellow light conspicuously located on the vehicle, and operate the flashing or rotating yellow light while the vehicle is moving on, or in the vicinity of, a ski run. A snowmobile operated in a ski area shall be operated with at least 1 operating white light located on the front of the snowmobile.

(b) Mark with a visible sign or other warning device the location of any hydrant or similar fixture or equipment used in snow-making operations located on a ski run, as prescribed by rules promulgated under section 20(3).

(c) Mark the top of or entrance to each ski run, slope, and trail to be used by skiers for the purpose of skiing, with an appropriate symbol indicating the relative degree of difficulty of the run, slope, or trail, using a symbols code prescribed by rules promulgated under section 20(3).

(d) Mark the top of or entrance to each ski run, slope, and trail which is closed to skiing, with an appropriate symbol indicating that the run, slope, or trail is closed, as prescribed by rules promulgated under section 20(3).

(e) Maintain 1 or more trail boards at prominent locations in each ski area displaying that area’s network of ski runs, slopes, and trails and the relative degree of difficulty of each ski run, slope, and trail, using the symbols code required under subdivision (c) and containing a key to that code, and indicating which runs, slopes, and trails are open or closed to skiing.

(f) Place or cause to be placed, if snow-grooming or snow-making operations are being performed on a ski run, slope, or trail while the run, slope, or trail is open to the public, a conspicuous notice at or near the top of or entrance to the run, slope, or trail indicating that those operations are being performed.

(g) Post the duties of skiers and passengers as prescribed in sections 21 and 22 and the duties, obligations, and liabilities of operators as prescribed in this section in and around the ski area in conspicuous places open to the public.

(h) Maintain the stability and legibility of all required signs, symbols, and posted notices.

§ 408.327. Promulgation of rules.

Sec. 7. The rules shall be promulgated pursuant to Act No. 306 of the Public Acts of 1969, as amended, being sections 24.201 to 24.315 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.

§ 408.328. Commissioner of labor; administration of act.

Sec. 8. The commissioner, subject to the limitations herein contained and the rules and regulations of the board, shall administer and enforce the provisions of this act.

§ 408.329. Ski lifts; permits requirement, inspection.

Sec. 9. No person shall operate a ski lift without a permit issued by the commissioner. On or before October 1 of each year an operator shall apply for a permit to the commissioner on a form furnished by the commissioner and containing such information as the board may require. All ski lifts shall be inspected before they are originally put into operation for the public’s use and thereafter at least once every 12 months, unless permitted to operate on a temporary permit.

 

§ 408.330. Ski lifts; temporary permits.

Sec. 10. The commissioner may issue a temporary permit for 30 calendar days to an operator, who has previously been operating in this state on a regular or annual basis, to continue operation. An inspection of his ski lifts shall be made within 30 days from the issuance of the permit. A ski lift inspected and covered by a permit in the preceding year may operate on a temporary basis until further inspected.

 

§ 408.331. Ski lifts; permits, issuance, expiration.

Sec. 11. If upon inspection a ski lift is found to comply with the rules and regulations of the board, the commissioner shall issue a permit to operate. A permit shall expire on September 30 of the following year.

 

§ 408.332. Ski lifts; erection, alteration, moving, plans and specifications; rope tows.

Sec. 12. Before a new ski lift is erected, or before a presently existing ski lift is moved to a different location, or whenever any additions or alterations are made which change the structure, mechanism, classification or capacity of any ski lift, the operator shall file with the department detailed, duplicate plans and specifications of such work. The plans and specifications shall be prepared by a qualified tramway firm or by an engineer, licensed in this state as a professional engineer, in accordance with Act No. 240 of the Public Acts of 1937, as amended, being sections 338.551 to 338.576 of the Compiled Laws of 1948. Upon approval of plans and specifications, the department shall issue a permit for such work. All rope tows shall be excluded from this section.

 

§ 408.333. Ski lifts; order to cease operation.

Sec. 13. The commissioner or board may order, in writing, a temporary cessation of operation of a ski lift if it has been determined after inspection to be hazardous or unsafe. Operation shall not resume until such conditions are corrected to the satisfaction of the commissioner or board.

 

§ 408.334. Ski lifts; existing installations.

Sec. 14. This act shall not be construed to prevent the use of any existing installation, upon inspection found to be in a safe condition and to conform with the rules and regulations of the board.

 

§ 408.335. Ski lifts; rules and regulations, modification for hardship, record.

Sec. 15. If there are practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships for an operator to comply with the rules and regulations under this act, the commissioner, with the approval of the board, may modify the application of such rules or regulations to such a situation, if the spirit of the provisions shall be observed and the public safety is secured. Any operator may make a written request to the board stating his grounds and applying for such modification. Any authorization by the commissioner and the board shall be in writing and shall describe the conditions under which the modification is permitted. A record of all modifications shall be kept in the department and open to the public.

 

§ 408.336. Ski lifts; fees.

Sec. 16. (a) An application for a permit shall be accompanied by fees of:

$25.00 for an annual permit; or

$2.00 for each rope tow,

$5.00 for each T bar, J bar or platter pull,

$15.00 for each chair lift or skimobile, and

$30.00 for each aerial tramway,

if greater than the $25.00 annual permit fee.

(b) Inspection fees shall be as follows:

$8.00 for each rope tow,

$20.00 for each T bar, J bar or platter pull,

$60.00 for each chair lift or skimobile,

$120.00 for each aerial tramway, and

$50.00 for reinspections or special inspections at an operator’s request.

Any operator may employ any person, partnership or corporation, approved by the commissioner and board, to make the inspections. Inspections made by any person, partnership, or corporation, that may be employed by an operator, shall be on forms furnished or approved by the department. Inspection fees shall be waived when the annual permit application is accompanied by such an inspection report.

(c) Fees for review and approval of plans prior to construction shall be $200.00 for a chair lift, T bar, J bar, platter pull or tramway.

Fees for review and approval of plans for modification and alteration of an existing lift shall be $50.00.

(d) Fees shall be paid to the department, which shall give receipts therefor.

 

§ 408.337. Chief inspector; inspection service.

Sec. 17. The department, with the advice and consent of the board, shall employ or retain a person qualified in engineering and training who shall be designated chief inspector. The chief inspector and such additional inspectors and other employees as may be necessary to properly administer this act may be hired on a temporary basis or borrowed from other state departments, or the department may contract with persons, partnerships or corporations for such inspection services on an independent basis.

 

§ 408.338. Revenue; disbursements.

Sec. 18. All fees for permits or inspections, or any other income received under this act, shall be paid into the general fund. All salaries and other moneys expended under this act shall be paid by the state treasurer from a fund appropriated by the legislature.

 

§ 408.339. Notice of public hearing.

Sec. 19. (1) In addition to the notice prescribed in section 5(1) notice of a public hearing held under this act shall be published not less than once and not less than 10 days before the hearing, in newspapers of general circulation prescribed by the commissioner.

 

§ 408.340. Violations; penalties; rules.

Sec. 20. (1) Except for sections 21 to 24, and except as provided in subsection (2), a person who violates this act, or a rule or order promulgated or issued pursuant to this act, or a person who interferes with, impedes, or obstructs the commissioner, an authorized representative of the commissioner, or a board member in the performance of duties prescribed by this act, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Each day a violation or other act continues shall be considered a separate offense.

(2) A member of the board who intentionally violates section 5(1) shall be subject to the penalties prescribed in Act No. 267 of the Public Acts of 1976, as amended.

(3) Not more than 270 days after the effective date of this subsection, the board shall, pursuant to section 7, promulgate rules consistent with this act to implement this act, except for subsection (2) and sections 21, 22, 23, and 24, not to exceed $50.00 for each violation.

 

§ 408.341. Skier conduct; prohibited conduct in ski area.

Sec. 21. (1) A skier shall conduct himself or herself within the limits of his or her individual ability and shall not act or ski in a manner that may contribute to his or her injury or to the injury of any other person. A skier shall be the sole judge of his or her ability to negotiate a track, trail, or slope.

(2) While in a ski area, a skier or passenger shall not do any of the following:

(a) Board a ski lift which has been designated as closed.

(b) Wilfully board or embark upon, or disembark from, a ski lift, except at an area designated for those purposes.

(c) Intentionally drop, throw, or expel an object from a ski lift while riding on the lift.

(d) Do any act which interferes with the running or operation of a ski lift, such as, but not limited to: swinging or bouncing on an aerial lift, attempting to contact supporting towers, machinery, guides, or guards while riding on a ski lift; or skiing out of the designated ski track on a surface lift or tow.

(e) Use a ski lift, unless the skier or passenger has the ability to use the lift safely without instruction on use of the lift by a ski area owner, manager, operator, or employee, or unless the skier or passenger requests and receives instruction before entering the boarding area of the ski lift.

(f) Use a ski lift or ski without properly engaging and using ski restraining devices, brakes, or restraining straps.

 

§ 408.342. Duties of skier in ski area; acceptance of dangers.

Sec. 22. (1) While in a ski area, each skier shall do all of the following:

(a) Maintain reasonable control of his or her speed and course at all times.

(b) Stay clear of snow-grooming vehicles and equipment in the ski area.

(c) Heed all posted signs and warnings.

(d) Ski only in ski areas which are marked as open for skiing on the trail board described in section 6a(e).

(2) Each person who participates in the sport of skiing accepts the dangers that inhere in that sport insofar as the dangers are obvious and necessary. Those dangers include, but are not limited to, injuries which can result from variations in terrain; surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions; bare spots; rocks, trees, and other forms of natural growth or debris; collisions with ski lift towers and their components, with other skiers, or with properly marked or plainly visible snow-making or snow-grooming equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

§ 408.343. Accidents causing injury; notice; identification; misdemeanor; penalty.

Sec. 23. (1) A skier involved in an accident causing an injury to another person shall to the extent that he or she is reasonably able to do so immediately notify the ski patrol or the operator, or law enforcement or emergency personnel, and shall clearly identify himself or herself. A skier who wilfully fails to give identification after involvement in a skiing accident with another person, or a skier who is reasonably able to do so who fails to notify the proper authorities or to obtain assistance when the skier knows that another person involved in the accident is in need of medical or other assistance, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or a fine of not more than $100.00, or both.

(2) A skier involved in an accident causing an injury to himself or herself, but not to another person, shall immediately notify the ski patrol or the operator, or law enforcement or emergency personnel, if the accident created a known hazardous condition in the area where the accident occurred.

 

 

§ 408.344. Violation of act; liability.

Sec. 24. A skier or passenger who violates this act, or an operator who violates this act shall be liable for that portion of the loss or damage resulting from that violation.

 


Connecticut Ski Safety Act

Connecticut Skier Safety Act

Sec. 29-201. (Formerly Sec. 19-418a). Definitions. 1
Sec. 29-202. (Formerly Sec. 19-418b). Requirements for passenger tramways in use. 3
Sec. 29-203. (Formerly Sec. 19-418c). Regulations, standards. 4
Sec. 29-204. (Formerly Sec. 19-418d). Plans and specifications, submission, fee. Approval. Final inspection. 4
Sec. 29-205. (Formerly Sec. 19-418e). Registration of each passenger tramway required. 5
Sec. 29-206. (Formerly Sec. 19-418f). Operating certificate, inspections, fees. 5
Sec. 29-207. (Formerly Sec. 19-418g). Order to discontinue operation. Permission for resumption. 6
Sec. 29-208. (Formerly Sec. 19-418h). Complaints. 6
Sec. 29-209. (Formerly Sec. 19-418i). Judicial review of commissioner’s decisions. 7
Sec. 29-210. (Formerly Sec. 19-418j). Penalties. 7
Sec. 29-211. (Formerly Sec. 19-418k). Duties of operator of passenger tramway or ski area. 8
Sec. 29-212. (Formerly Sec. 19-418l). Assumption of risk of injury caused by hazards inherent in the sport of skiing. 10
Sec. 29-213. (Formerly Sec. 19-418m). Prohibited conduct by skiers. 18
Sec. 29-214. (Formerly Sec. 19-418n). Special defense to civil action against operator by skier. (Repealed) 19
Secs. 29-215 to 29-220. [Reserved] 19

Title 29 Public Safety and State Police
Chapter 538a Passenger Tramways
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-201 (2014)

Sec. 29-201. (Formerly Sec. 19-418a). Definitions.
As used in this chapter, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(1) “Passenger tramway” means a device used to transport passengers in cars on tracks or suspended in the air, or uphill on skis, by the use of steel cables, chains or belts or by ropes, and usually supported by trestles or towers with one or more spans, but shall not include any such device not available for public use and not subject to a fee for use of same. The term “passenger tramway” includes the following: (A) Two-car aerial passenger tramways, which are devices 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; (B) multicar aerial passenger tramways, which are devices 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; (C) skimobiles, which are devices in which a passenger car running on steel or wooden tracks is attached to and pulled by a steel cable, or similar devices; (D) chair lifts, which are devices which carry passengers 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; (E) J bars, T bars, platter pulls and similar types of devices, which are means of transportation that 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; and (F) rope tows, which are devices that pull the skiers riding on skis as the skier grasps the rope manually, or similar devices.
(2) “Operator” means a person who owns or controls the operation of a passenger tramway or ski area. An operator of a passenger tramway shall be deemed not to be operating a common carrier.
(3) “Department” means the Department of Administrative Services.
(4) “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Administrative Services.
(5) “Skier” includes the following: (A) A person utilizing the ski area under control of the operator for the purpose of skiing, whether or not he or she is utilizing a passenger tramway; and (B) a person utilizing the passenger tramway whether or not such person is a skier, including riders on a passenger tramway operating during the nonskiing season.
(6) “Restraint device” means a restraining bar on a passenger tramway, as defined in subparagraph (D) of subdivision (1) of this section, that does not yield to forward pressure by a skier.

Sec. 19-418c transferred to Sec. 29-203 in 1983.
Sec. 29-204. (Formerly Sec. 19-418d). Plans and specifications, submission, fee. Approval. Final inspection.
No new passenger tramway shall be erected or installed and no passenger tramway shall be relocated or altered until detailed plans and specifications of the proposed construction or other work have been submitted in duplicate to the department for approval. A fee of two hundred dollars payable to the Department of Administrative Services shall accompany each such proposal. Notice that such plans are approved or disapproved shall be given within a reasonable time, and final inspection of the passenger tramway, when installed, relocated or altered, shall be made before final approval for operating is given by the department.

Sec. 29-206. (Formerly Sec. 19-418f). Operating certificate, inspections, fees.
The department shall enforce the regulations adopted pursuant to section 29-203, and shall inspect the construction, operation and maintenance of passenger tramways to determine whether such regulations have been complied with by the operators. Each passenger tramway shall be thoroughly inspected by a qualified inspector approved by the department at least once every twelve months. More frequent inspections of any passenger tramway may be made if the condition thereof indicates that additional inspections are necessary or desirable. As soon as the department inspects and approves any passenger tramway as being fit for operation, it shall issue to the operator, upon receipt of a fee of two hundred dollars, a certificate of operation with such conditions and limitations as the commissioner shall prescribe. Such certificate shall be valid for twelve months and shall be renewed yearly, if the department approves the passenger tramway, upon payment of a renewal fee of one hundred dollars. No passenger tramway may be operated without such operating certificate.

Sec. 29-207. (Formerly Sec. 19-418g). Order to discontinue operation. Permission for resumption.
If any passenger tramway is found to be, in the judgment of the department, dangerous to public safety or is being operated without the operating certificate required in section 29-204 or is being operated in violation of any regulation adopted under this chapter, the department may require the operator of such passenger tramway to discontinue its operation forthwith. When a passenger tramway has been placed out of service pursuant to this section, the operator of such tramway shall not again operate such tramway until repairs have been made, an operating certificate has been obtained, or the violation is discontinued and permission given by the commissioner or his authorized agent to resume operation of such tramway.

Sec. 29-208. (Formerly Sec. 19-418h). Complaints.
Any person may make a written complaint to the commissioner setting forth any alleged violation of this chapter or of any regulation promulgated under the authority of this chapter, or setting forth any condition in a passenger tramway which is alleged to endanger the safety of the public.

Sec. 29-209. (Formerly Sec. 19-418i). Judicial review of commissioner’s decisions.
Any person aggrieved by any decision or order of the commissioner or department under the provisions of this chapter may appeal therefrom in accordance with the provisions of section 4-183, except venue for such appeal shall be in the judicial district wherein such passenger tramway is situated.

Sec. 29-210. (Formerly Sec. 19-418j). Penalties.
Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter or any of the regulations adopted hereunder shall, for the first offense, be fined not less than twenty-five dollars or more than one hundred dollars, and for each subsequent offense, shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor.

Sec. 29-211. (Formerly Sec. 19-418k). Duties of operator of passenger tramway or ski area.
In the operation of a passenger tramway or ski area, each operator shall have the obligation to perform certain duties including, but not limited to: (1) Conspicuously marking all trail maintenance vehicles and furnishing the vehicles with flashing or rotating lights which shall be operated whenever the vehicles are working or moving within the skiing area; (2) conspicuously marking the entrance to each trail or slope with a symbol, adopted or approved by the National Ski Areas Association, which identifies the relative degree of difficulty of such trail or slope or warns that such trail or slope is closed; (3) ensuring that any lift tower that is located on a trail or slope is padded or otherwise protected; (4) maintaining one or more trail boards, at prominent locations within the ski area, displaying such area’s network of ski trails and slopes, designating each trail or slope in the same manner as provided in subdivision (2) of this section and notifying each skier that the wearing of ski retention straps or other devices used to prevent runaway skis is required by section 29-213, as amended by this act; (5) in the event maintenance personnel or equipment are being employed on any trail or slope during the hours at which such trail or slope is open to the public, conspicuously posting notice thereof at the entrance to such trail or slope; (6) conspicuously marking trail or slope intersections; (7) ensuring that passenger tramways, as defined in subparagraph (D) of subdivision (1) of section 29-201, as amended by this act, are equipped with restraint devices; (8) at the entrance of a passenger tramway, as defined in subparagraph (D) of subdivision (1) of section 29-201, as amended by this act, conspicuously posting instructions regarding the proper use of a restraint device on such passenger tramway and notice that the use of a restraint device on such passenger tramway is required by section 29-213, as amended by this act; and (9) ensuring that any hydrant, snow-making equipment and pipes that are located within the borders of a designated slope, trail or area that is approved and open for skiing by the operator and regularly groomed as part of the operator’s normal maintenance activities are padded or marked by portable fencing or a similar device.

Sec. 29-212. (Formerly Sec. 19-418l). Assumption of risk of injury caused by hazards inherent in the sport of skiing.
(a) For the purposes of this section:
(1) “Skier” includes any person who is using a ski area for the purpose of skiing or who is on the skiable terrain of a ski area as a spectator or otherwise, but does not include (A) any person using a snow tube provided by a ski area operator, and (B) any person who is a spectator while in a designated spectator area during any event;
(2) “Skiing” means sliding downhill or jumping on snow or ice using skis, a snowboard, snow blades, a snowbike, a sit-ski or any other device that is controllable by its edges on snow or ice or is for the purpose of utilizing any skiable terrain, but does not include snow tubing operations provided by a ski area operator; and
(3) “Ski area operator” means a person who owns or controls the operation of a ski area and such person’s agents and employees.
(b) Each skier shall assume the risk of and legal responsibility for any injury to his or her person or property caused by the hazards inherent in the sport of skiing. Such hazards include, but are not limited to: (1) Variations in the terrain of the trail or slope which is marked in accordance with subdivision (2) of section 29-211, as amended by this act, or variations in surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions, except that no skier assumes the risk of variations which are caused by the ski area operator unless such variations are caused by snow making, snow grooming or rescue operations; (2) bare spots which do not require the closing of the trail or slope; (3) conspicuously placed or, if not so placed, conspicuously marked lift towers; (4) trees or other objects not within the confines of the trail or slope; (5) loading, unloading or otherwise using a passenger tramway without prior knowledge of proper loading and unloading procedures or without reading instructions concerning loading and unloading posted at the base of such passenger tramway or without asking for such instructions; and (6) collisions with any other person by any skier while skiing, except that collisions with on-duty employees of the ski area operator who are skiing and are within the scope of their employment at the time of the collision shall not be a hazard inherent in the sport of skiing.
(c) The provisions of this section shall not apply in any case in which it is determined that a claimant’s injury was not caused by a hazard inherent in the sport of skiing.

Sec. 29-213. (Formerly Sec. 19-418m). Prohibited conduct by skiers.
No skier shall: (1) Intentionally drop, throw or expel any object from a passenger tramway; (2) do any act which shall interfere with the running or operation of a passenger tramway; (3) use a passenger tramway without the permission of the operator; (4) place any object in the skiing area or on the uphill track of a passenger tramway which may cause a skier to fall; (5) cross the track of a J bar lift, T bar lift, platter pull or similar device or a rope tow, except at a designated location; (6) depart from the scene of a skiing accident when involved in the accident without leaving personal identification, including name and address, or before notifying the proper authorities and obtaining assistance when such skier knows that any other skier involved in the accident is in need of medical or other assistance; (7) fail to wear retention straps or other devices used to prevent runaway skis; or (8) fail to close the restraint device except when embarking and disembarking the passenger tramway, as defined in subparagraph (D) of subdivision (1) of section 29-201, as amended by this act.

Sec. 29-214. (Formerly Sec. 19-418n). Special defense to civil action against operator by skier. (Repealed)
Section 29-214 is repealed, effective October 1, 2005.


You have to be prepared way before trial, and you have to win at trial, because judges are given wide discretion in controlling your chances on appeal.

Salvini v. Ski Lifts, Inc., 2008 Wash. App. LEXIS 2506

This case significantly changed the ski industry.

This decision out of the Washington Appellate Court offers value in understanding some issues that occur at trial. It also offers an example of how much control a judge has in a trial and why a judge really can control the outcome of your trial if you are not prepared.

The plaintiff in this case was an experienced skier who had gone over the table-top  jump at issue before. There is conflicting testimony on how fast the plaintiff was skiing; however, he landed far down the hill beyond the landing zone. The injuries rendered him a quadriplegic. The case was taken to trial, and the jury found the plaintiff 55% liable and the ski area 45% liable. The jury awarded $30 million in damages, resulting in a $14 million-dollar  recovery for the plaintiff.

The plaintiff sued “alleging that it designed and built an unreasonably dangerous ski jump, and that it failed to close the jump or to warn of its dangers.” The defense argued that the risk was an inherent part of skiing, and the plaintiff was negligent and therefore, the cause of his injuries.

Summary of the case

Washington like all other states has comparative negligence. However, unlike the majority of the states, this is a pure comparative negligence state. That means the jury awards an amount and decides what percentage each party to the litigation is at fault. In the majority of states if the plaintiff is more than 50% or 51% at fault the plaintiff recovers nothing. This is not true in Washington. The percentage is applied to the damages, and the plaintiff receives that percentage of the damages. 45% of $30 million is about $14 million.

Washington has a Skier Safety Statute. However, it is very weak and does not define the risks of skiing. In this case, the statute provided very little benefit to the defendant.

The majority of the decision focuses on the jury instructions. Jury instructions are the actual written instructions the jury takes with them into the jury room that explain the law. The legal issues and definitions are each on a separate on a piece of paper that is numbered. By reading through the instructions in numerical order the jury is helped to decide the legal issues or more importantly decide how the facts apply to the law.

Some states have pre-printed jury instructions. Federal courts and several states the jury instructions are created by the parties and the judge. In both cases, the opposing attorneys and judge creates the final instructions that the jury will read.

The judge is given wide discretion in creating jury instructions and unless the jury instructions are plain wrong, they are rarely overturned. That was the case here. The defendant argued several issues with the jury instructions, and the appellate court found none of the issues were so great as to be wrong. The judge has vast discretion to determine the jury instructions.

“The court need not include specific language in a jury instruction, so long as the instructions as a whole correctly state the law.”

Washington Skier Safety Act does not have any definitions for terrain parks or jumps. Like many ski area acts, Washington’s has not been updated to keep up with the changes in the sport.

This left the defendant with a tough burden of proving the risks of jumping in a terrain park was an inherent risk of skiing.

Washington applies the landowner test to the duty owed to patrons at a ski area. Because the skier is there for the financial benefit of the ski area, the skier is a business invitee which the ski area owes “a duty to a skier to discover dangerous conditions through reasonable inspection, and repair that condition or warn the invitees, unless it is known or obvious.” The Appellate Court quoted from the Restatement of Torts to support its opinion, which places a very high burden upon a ski area.

An invitee is entitled to expect that the possessor will take reasonable care to ascertain the actual condition of the premises and, having discovered it, either to make it reasonably safe by repair or to give warning of the actual condition and the risk involved therein.

Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343, cmt. d (1965).

The defendant argued that a notice on a whiteboard was sufficient to warn of the dangers. However, the court found otherwise. The plaintiff’s experts also opined that there should have been an entrance to the jump so skiers could not get so much speed. That was supported by 15 incidents reports the plaintiff placed  into evidence of injuries from people landing beyond the jump landing zone. This was reduced from 66 the plaintiff had originally tried to have admitted.

If you keep paperwork showing a problem, you better also have paperwork showing what you did about the problem.

The ski area also argued they were not required to create a start point or place a sign there because the speed that a skier entered a jump was up to the skier.

The court, however, did make some statements from a skier’s perspective that seemed at odds with reality.

Lifts further contends that it had no duty to warn Salvini because he had used the jump before and was fully aware of its condition. This argument is not persuasive. Salvini’s previous use of the jump would not necessarily put him on notice that its design could increase the risk of severe injury from overshooting. Whether the jump’s deficiencies were “known and obvious” and whether Salvini should have anticipated the harm is a question of fact for the jury.

.. . . .

The trial court rejected most of the 66 incident reports offered by Salvini because it found that they were not sufficiently similar, and it admitted only “[t]hose accident reports documenting an injury occurring as a result of overshooting the jump in question, on either skis or snowboards (which go slower than skis.) … .” CP at 2635. If overshooting was a problem for slower moving snowboarders, it is reasonable to expect it to be a problem for skiers as well.

The first issue is that using a jump does not give you notice that the jump is dangerous seems to be at odds with reality. The issue that if you go over a jump and do not realize that it has increased dangers over skiing on flat terrain does not seem logical. Anytime you are going faster than you feel comfortable or above the ground without holding on to something seems to indicate an increase in risk that should be obvious to everyone.

At the same time, after you have done something dangerous enough times, enough being a different number for everyone, you become accustomed to the risk. However, being able to deal with the risk does not mean that you have totally lost the ability to understand or appreciate the risk.

The second is the court’s statement about snowboards going slower than skiers which does not seem to be supported in the opinion and could be argued in a lot of cases is as irrelevant. It is the skill of the person wearing the board or skis that have more of an influence on the speed rather than the implement itself.

This decision is a nasty one for ski areas. $14 million is a lot of money, especially for a small area and a small insurance pool

So Now What?

You cannot create risks just because every other competitor is doing it. If you state does not have the laws, or you do not have either the skills and knowledge or the defenses to deal with the risk you are over your head.

Find out what your competitors are doing. How they are approaching the risk. In this case, what fencing they are using, how they are building their features and who they are allowing in the features.

There were some very interesting things that occurred with this trial; however, that is the system we have in the US, and sometimes you get screwed.

Plaintiff: Kenneth Salvini

Defendant: Ski Lifts, Inc. (dba Snoqualmie Summit Ski Area)

Plaintiff Claims: Negligence

Defendant Defenses: inherent risks and signage

Holding: for the plaintiff

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Salvini v. Ski Lifts, Inc., 2008 Wash. App. LEXIS 2506

Salvini v. Ski Lifts, Inc., 2008 Wash. App. LEXIS 2506

Kenneth Salvini et al., Individually, Respondents, v. Ski Lifts, Inc., Appellant.

NO. 60211-0-I

COURT OF APPEALS OF WASHINGTON, DIVISION ONE

2008 Wash. App. LEXIS 2506

October 20, 2008, Filed

NOTICE: Rules of the Washington Court of Appeals may limit citation to unpublished opinions. Please refer to the Washington Rules of Court.

SUBSEQUENT HISTORY: Reported at Salvini v. Ski Lifts, Inc., 2008 Wash. App. LEXIS 2529 (Wash. Ct. App., Oct. 20, 2008)

PRIOR HISTORY: [*1]

Appeal from King County Superior Court. Docket No: 05-2-13652-9. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: May 31, 2007. Judge signing: Honorable Laura Inveen.

COUNSEL: Counsel for Appellant(s): William Robert Hickman, Pamela A. Okano, Reed McClure, Ruth Nielsen, Nielsen Law Office Inc PS, Wendy E Lyon, Riddell Williams PS, Seattle, WA; James W. Huston, Morrison & Foerster, LLP, San Diego, CA; Beth S. Brinkmann, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Morrison & Foerster, LLP, Washington, DC.

Counsel for Respondent(s): John Robert Connelly Jr., Connelly Law Offices, James Walter Beck, Gordon Thomas Honeywell, Tacoma, WA; Philip Albert Talmadge, Tukwila, WA.

JUDGES: Authored by Linda Lau. Concurring: Marlin Appelwick, Ronald Cox.

OPINION BY: Linda Lau

OPINION

¶1 Lau, J. — While attempting a terrain park ski jump at a ski area, Kenneth Salvini was severely injured. Salvini and his parents brought a negligence action against the owner-operator Ski Lifts, Inc. The jury found Salvini 55 percent responsible and Ski Lifts 45 percent responsible. Ski Lifts appeals, arguing that the trial court improperly instructed the jury on duty, inherent risk, and signage, and that it admitted prejudicial and irrelevant evidence of prior accidents. We conclude that [*2] the jury instructions were proper and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of prior accidents for the limited purpose of notice. Accordingly, we affirm.

FACTS

¶2 Ski Lifts owns and operates Snoqualmie, a ski area that features downhill skiing and a terrain park filled with artificial jumps and structures. Among these features are “table top” jumps, which have a takeoff ramp, a flat deck section, and a landing slope. To jump a table top successfully, a skier must approach the takeoff ramp with sufficient speed to launch into the air and clear the deck while maintaining enough control to land upright on the landing slope. “Overshooting” occurs when the skier lands past the end of the landing slope.

¶3 At approximately 7 P.M. on February 11, 2004, Kenneth Salvini arrived at Snoqualmie with his father and some friends. It was night, and the snow was rough, icy, and hard. After spending about an hour skiing at the Alpental downhill area, the main ski lift broke down. They then moved to the Summit Central downhill area. Salvini and a friend took a lift to the top of the mountain and skied over to the terrain park. A message hand written in light blue pen on a whiteboard [*3] sign posted near the lift read, “Terrain park Tip of the Week: Most injuries in the terrain park are as a result of the rider out-jumping the landing. Thanks, your friendly Ski Patrol.” Ex. 7. A Ski Lifts employee testified that the message was posted following several overshooting incidents. But Salvini and his friend did not see the sign.

¶4 Salvini, an experienced skier, decided to try a table top jump in the lower part of the terrain park–one that he had successfully jumped while skiing the previous week. Salvini testified that his goal was to approach the jump with “enough speed to make sure [he] cleared the deck.” Verbatim Report of Proceedings (VRP) (Mar. 22, 2007) at 83. Ski Lifts asserted that Salvini approached the jump at an excessively high speed, but Salvini presented evidence that his speed was within the range expected at a ski jump. He lost control, rotated backwards, “overshot” the landing ramp, and landed on his back onto a flat or nearly flat area. Salvini is now a quadriplegic.

¶5 Salvini and his parents filed a negligence action against Ski Lifts, alleging that it designed and built an unreasonably dangerous ski jump and that it failed to close the jump or to warn of [*4] its dangers, thereby exposing him to an extreme risk of serious injury beyond the risks inherent in the sport. Ski Lifts asserted that it was not negligent and that Salvini’s injuries were solely the result of the inherent risks of the sport and Salvini’s own negligence.

¶6 Ski Lifts filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence of prior accidents at the terrain park. Salvini responded with a motion to admit 66 prior incident reports. After reviewing the incident reports, the trial court admitted 15 reports for “the limited issue of notice” but excluded the remainder because they were not substantially similar. Clerk’s Papers (CP) at 2632-35. 1 At Ski Lifts’ request, the trial court instructed the jury that the reports were admitted “for the limited purpose of showing that defendant had notice that people had overshot the landing of the jump on which the plaintiff was injured.” CP at 2672.

1 The court originally admitted 16 incident reports, but this was later reduced to 15.

¶7 The jury found Salvini 55 percent at fault and Ski Lifts 45 percent at fault. The jury also found that Salvini had suffered approximately $ 30 million in damages, resulting in a judgment against Ski Lifts of approximately [*5] $ 14 million. The trial court denied Ski Lifts’ motion for a new trial. Ski Lifts now appeals.

ANALYSIS

Jury Instruction on Inherent Risk

¶8 Ski Lifts argues that the trial court erred in refusing to give its proposed jury instruction. The instruction stated: “An inherent risk of a sport is one that cannot be eliminated without fundamentally changing the nature of the sport or chilling vigorous participation in the sport.” CP at 2578. Alleged errors of law in jury instructions are reviewed de novo. Barrett v. Lucky Seven Saloon, Inc., 152 Wn.2d 259, 266, 96 P.3d 386 (2004). Whether to give a particular jury instruction, however, is within the trial court’s discretion. Boeing Co. v. Key, 101 Wn. App. 629, 632, 5 P.3d 16 (2000). “Jury instructions are sufficient if they allow the parties to argue their theories of the case, do not mislead the jury and, when taken as a whole, properly inform the jury of the law to be applied.” Hue v. Farmboy Spray Co., 127 Wn.2d 67, 92, 896 P.2d 682 (1995). “The trial court is given considerable discretion in deciding how the instructions will be worded.” Goodman v. Boeing Co., 75 Wn. App. 60, 73, 877 P.2d 703 (1994), aff’d, 127 Wn.2d 1020, 890 P.2d 463 (1995).

¶9 Chapter 79A.45 RCW [*6] generally sets forth the responsibilities of skiers and ski area operators. 2 The statute “modifies, but is generally consistent with, the common law.” Codd v. Stevens Pass, Inc., 45 Wn. App. 393, 397, 725 P.2d 1008 (1986). It provides that “[b]ecause of the inherent risks in the sport of skiing all persons using the ski hill shall exercise reasonable care for their own safety.” RCW 79A.45.030(6). “A defendant simply does not have a duty to protect a sports participant from dangers which are an inherent and normal part of a sport.” Scott v. Pac. W. Mountain Resort, 119 Wn.2d 484, 500, 834 P.2d 6 (1992). But “[a]lthough the statute imposes both primary and secondary duties on skiers, it ‘does not purport to relieve ski operators from all liability for their own negligence.'” Brown v. Stevens Pass, Inc., 97 Wn. App. 519, 524, 984 P.2d 448 (1999) (quoting Scott, 119 Wn.2d at 500). Risks caused by negligent provision of dangerous facilities are not “inherent” in a sport. Scott, 119 Wn.2d at 498.

2 Nothing in the statute specifically addresses terrain park ski jumping.

10 Washington’s ski statute does not define “inherent risk.” 3 The language of Ski Lifts’ proposed instruction is drawn from [*7] an intermediate California appellate court decision, Vine v. Bear Valley Ski Co., 118 Cal. App. 4th 577, 13 Cal. Rptr. 3d 370 (2004). In Vine, a snowboarder who was seriously injured on a terrain park ski jump brought a negligence action against the ski area. The ski operator, arguing that it owed no duty to protect Vine against inherent risks, requested the following instruction on assumption of risk:

“The defendant has no duty to eliminate, reduce or make safer the inherent risks of injury which arise from the nature of the sport of recreational snowboard jumping or the manner in which it is conducted. An inherent risk of a sport is one that cannot be eliminated without fundamentally changing the nature of the sport or chilling vigorous participation in the sport.

“The defendant is under a duty to use ordinary care not to increase the risks to a snowboarder over and above those inherent in the sport. The defendant is under a duty to refrain from constructing a jump for use by the public which, by design, poses an extreme risk of injury.

“A failure to fulfill such duty is negligence.”

Id. at 594 n.5.

3 In contrast, some states have enacted ski safety statutes that define “inherent risks” [*8] and/or “inherent danger” of skiing with particularity. See, e.g., Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 33-44-103(3.5) (West); Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. 408.342(2) (LexisNexis); 32 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann § 15217.

11 The trial court ruled that the primary assumption of risk doctrine did not apply because snowboarding does not inherently require jumps that are designed in such a way as to create an extreme risk of injury. Id. at 590. Thus, the court instructed the jury on ordinary negligence and contributory negligence but not on assumption of the risk. Id. at 595-97, 603.

12 The California appellate court held that the instructions were erroneous regarding the duty of care owed by the ski operator.

Nowhere was the jury informed that Bear Valley owed Vine no duty to protect her from the risks inherent in snowboard jumping. Indeed, the instructions suggested just the opposite, since it was obviously foreseeable that the inherent risks of riding a snowboard over the jump built by Bear Valley might result in injury.

Id. at 596. The court reasoned, “It is fundamentally unfair for a snowboarding injury case to go to a jury without any instruction on assumption of the risk.” Id. at 603.

13 Ski Lifts argues that under the reasoning [*9] of Vine, the trial court’s failure to give Ski Lifts’ proposed jury instruction defining the inherent risks of terrain park jumping deprived it of the ability to argue that the risks that caused Salvini’s accident were inherent in the sport and that he was responsible for his own injury. Salvini contends that the jury instructions given by the trial court were an accurate statement of the law and that Ski Lifts’ proposed additional instruction was unnecessary for Ski Lifts to argue its theory of the case.

14 We disagree with Ski Lifts. In Vine, the trial court declined to instruct the jury on the inherent risks of the sport, which erroneously precluded the jury from considering assumption of the risk. Here, in contrast, the trial court did instruct the jury on Salvini’s assumption of the risks that are an inherent and normal part of terrain park jumping. Instruction 16 stated,

A skier jumping in a terrain park assumes the dangers that are inherent in the sport of terrain park jumping. The ski area has no duty to protect a skier from dangers that are an inherent and normal part of jumping in a terrain park.

The ski area has a duty not to unduly enhance the risk of jumping in a terrain park [*10] beyond the risks inherent in the sport.

CP at 2674.

¶15 Instruction 16 properly informed the jury of Washington law, was not misleading, and permitted Ski Lifts to argue that the conditions and risks that caused Salvini’s injuries were an inherent and normal part of the sport. 4 During closing statements, Ski Lifts argued to the jury:

So what do we need to know in order to decide what is an inherent part of this sport? And what we know and what everybody has talked about is jumping is a fundamental activity, that’s what it is about. …

… Jumps are not safe, because ‘safe’ means free from injury or danger, free from risk, and we have to start out with the premise that this is an inherently dangerous activity; it is not free from risk. You can’t design out the risk, that’s part of jumping. …

… Talking about landing on your feet, landing on your landing gear, and absorbing the shock of a jump. That’s inherent in jumping, and that’s what is most important. …

… Two inherent dangers, everyone talked about it, losing control and falling. Those are things that come along with the sport.

… What we have to look at is what’s normal of [sic] this sport, and that the jumpers have [*11] the responsibility, they can choose their speed, depending on what they want to do. … And that’s why there is no starting point. That’s not a decision the ski area is making … , it is a decision the skier needs to make for themselves.

… .

The jump itself. Again, we talk first about what is normal to the sport. And the people who build the jump are telling you this is what’s normal for the sport. This is what all of the ski areas are doing, this is how the jumps are built. …

We have some other things that factor in to this particular table top and the choices that are available. And this is all part of what is normal in the sport. We have the jump itself, we have the two different landings, we have the half pipe off to the right, we have other jumps below, two take offs on that jump, and lots of room to go around on either side. … And those are things that we don’t have a duty to change because that’s an inherent and normal part of the sport. …

… .

… Because “normal” for a ski area includes people going to the first aid room for a whole variety of reasons, not to minimize it. But to say it is a risky sport and accidents happen, and you have to get back to [*12] the first part of our instruction, which is, there are inherent dangers … . And they are athletes and they are human and they did something different, and it ended up in injury. And nobody wants that to happen, but we can’t take that away and still have the sport, because what we have is something that is inherently dangerous and people are doing it because they want to. …

… .

… But what we know is that at the end of the day, it was not the ski area that caused the accident, it was the behavior of the jumper. And not in a critical way, because this is what is part of the sport. And that’s why it is an inherent risk, because it is very dangerous. And it starts out that way. And the ski area did not do anything to increase that danger. It is a normal jump and it is a normal activity. … The people that developed it told you what it was about, and the skier assumes the dangers that are inherent in the sport, and assumes what is part of the normal sport. Not a different sport, but this sport. And we don’t have a duty to make it a different sport. … What is this sport about? It is about the risk of falling and being injured. It is about speed and control and snow conditions [*13] and choices. And that’s all a normal part of the sport.

VRP (Apr. 4, 2007) at 6-46.

4 Salvini argues that Ski Lifts failed to preserve any error on inherent risks of ski jumping because it proposed and received instruction 16, which was a correct statement of the law. We disagree. Ski Lifts specifically took exception below to the trial court’s refusal to give an additional proposed definition of “inherent risk,” which it now contends was necessary for the jury to understand that phrase. This was sufficient to preserve the issue for appellate review under CR 51(f).

¶16 “Whether to define a phrase is a matter of judgment to be exercised by the trial court.” Goodman, 75 Wn. App. at 76. Under the instructions given, Ski Lifts could and did define the inherent and normal risks very broadly in crafting its argument to the jury. Ski Lifts’ additional instruction defining “inherent risk” was unnecessary and superfluous. 5 And when applied to this case, the definition is self-evident and obvious. The jury attributed 55 percent of the fault for the accident to inherent risk and Salvini’s own negligence. It is entirely speculative to conclude that the jury did not understand “inherent risk” or that [*14] the verdict would have been different if Ski Lifts’ proposed instruction had been given. 6 The trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to give a proposed instruction derived from California common law that was unnecessary to allow Ski Lifts to fully argue its theory of the case.

5 See Goodman, 75 Wn. App. at 76 (upholding trial court’s refusal to give a jury instruction defining the phrase “continuing violation” where the definition was self-evident and obvious when applied to facts of case).

6 In the special verdict form, the jury answered, “Yes” to the following question: “Was one or more of the inherent risks of jumping in a terrain park a proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries?”

Jury Instruction on Duty to Discover Dangerous Conditions

¶17 Ski Lifts argues that instruction 15 misstated the duty owed by a ski area operator regarding the discovery and elimination of dangers, thereby erroneously holding Ski Lifts to an improperly broad duty to protect Salvini.

¶18 Instruction 15 stated,

The operator of a ski area owes its customers a duty to exercise ordinary care. This includes the exercise of ordinary care to provide reasonably safe facilities and to maintain in a reasonably safe [*15] condition those portions of the premises that such person is expressly or impliedly invited to use or might reasonably be expected to use. The operator of a ski area owes a duty to its customers to discover dangerous conditions through reasonable inspection, and repair that condition or warn the skier unless it is known or obvious.

CP at 2673. (Emphasis added.)

¶19 Ski Lifts objects only to the final, italicized sentence of the instruction, which was added at Salvini’s request over Ski Lifts’ objection. 7 This sentence was drawn directly from the Scott decision, which describes the duty of care for ski area operators. “A skier is a business invitee of a ski area operator. The operator owes a duty to a skier to discover dangerous conditions through reasonable inspection, and repair that condition or warn the invitees, unless it is known or obvious.” Scott, 119 Wn.2d at 500 (footnotes omitted). The Scott court further specified, “[T]he plaintiff assumes the dangers that are inherent in and necessary to the particular sport or activity” and that “[w]hile participants in sports are generally held to have impliedly assumed the risks inherent in the sport, such assumption of risk does not preclude [*16] a recovery for negligent acts which unduly enhance such risks.” Id. at 501 (third emphasis added).

7 Ski Lifts argues that instruction 15 misstated Washington law by failing to reference “unreasonably” dangerous conditions. Salvini contends that Ski Lifts failed to preserve this argument because it did not propose inserting the word “unreasonably” into the instruction. But Ski Lifts did object to instruction 15 on the ground that “the law would indicate that we don’t have a duty unless it is unreasonably dangerous. So I believe that the dicta from Scott that has been added to the WPIC instruction is not appropriate.” VRP (Apr. 3, 2007 P.M.) at 11. Accordingly, Ski Lifts’ proposed instruction was essentially the same as instruction 15, but without the final sentence taken from Scott. This sufficiently informed the trial court of the point of law in dispute to preserve for appellate review the issue of whether instruction 15 properly stated the duty owed by ski operators to skiers. Falk v. Keene Corp., 113 Wn.2d 645, 657-58, 782 P.2d 974 (1989). CR 51(f) does not require a party to additionally propose an alternative instruction under similar circumstances. Joyce v. State Dep’t of Corrections, 155 Wn.2d 306, 324-25, 119 P.3d 825 (2005).

¶20 Ski [*17] Lifts argues that the final sentence of instruction 15 misstated the duty of care for providers of an inherently dangerous activity such as terrain park ski jumping because, unlike Scott, it failed to specify that the duty was limited only to “unreasonably” dangerous conditions–those that “unduly enhance” the inherent risks. According to Ski Lifts, the omission of the word “unreasonably” from the jury instruction mistakenly informed the jury that Ski Lifts’ legal duty was to eliminate all dangers to terrain park ski jumpers–a standard that is impossible to meet. Ski Lifts further contends that instruction 16 was insufficient to cure the defect in instruction 15 regarding Ski Lifts’ duty of care for three reasons. First, it is not clear that the “unduly enhance” language of instruction 16 operates to limit instruction 15’s reference to “dangerous conditions.” Second, it was contradictory and confusing to instruct the jury that Ski Lifts was responsible for “dangerous conditions” (instruction 15) while also instructing it that Salvini assumed the dangers inherent in terrain jumping (instruction 16). Third, under the reasoning of Vine, the jury could not determine comparative fault [*18] without an instruction specifically defining the inherent risks assumed by Salvini.

¶21 We disagree with Ski Lifts and hold that instructions 15 and 16 properly instructed the jury on Washington law. “The court need not include specific language in a jury instruction, so long as the instructions as a whole correctly state the law.” Boeing Co. v. Key, 101 Wn. App. 629, 633, 5 P.3d 16 (2000).

¶22 Instruction 15 accurately summarized the well-established duty of care owed by ski area operators to skiers. Washington courts have adopted with approval the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343 (1965), which sets forth the duties a possessor of land owes to an invitee. Iwai v. State, 129 Wn.2d 84, 95, 915 P.2d 1089 (1996). Section 343 states,

Dangerous Conditions Known to or Discoverable by Possessor A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm caused to his invitees by a condition on the land if, but only if, he

(a) knows or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover the condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such invitees, and

(b) should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it, [*19] and

(c) fails to exercise reasonable care to protect them against the danger.

¶23 The ski operator owes an affirmative duty of care to the skier, as a business invitee, to discover dangerous conditions through reasonable inspection and repair them or warn the invitees of the hazard unless it is known or obvious. See, e.g., Scott, 119 Wn.2d at 500; Brown, 97 Wn. App. at 524; Codd, 45 Wn. App. 396-97. Consistent with this standard, instruction 15 also stated that the ski area operator’s duty is to provide “reasonably safe facilities” and to maintain them in a “reasonably safe condition.” Furthermore, instruction 16–to which Ski Lifts did not object–specified that a ski area has no duty to protect against “dangers that are an inherent and normal part of jumping in a terrain park” and that “[t]he ski area has a duty not to unduly enhance the risk of jumping in a terrain park beyond the risks inherent in the sport.”

¶24 Together, these instructions accurately summarized the law, allowed Ski Lifts to argue its theory of the case, and were not contradictory, confusing, or misleading. Ski Lifts could, and did, argue that the risks of the jump were known and obvious. Ski Lifts could, and did, argue [*20] that Salvini’s injuries resulted from the inherent risks of the sport. And the trial court gave an instruction on comparative fault to which Ski Lifts did not object. As discussed above, Ski Lifts’ proposed instruction defining “inherent risk” was unnecessary to allow Ski Lifts to fully argue all of its claims. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to omit the final sentence from instruction 15.

Jury Instruction on Failure to Warn

¶25 Ski Lifts argues that Salvini offered no evidence of proximate cause to support his claim that Ski Lifts was liable on a failure to warn theory. Instruction 15 informed the jury that Ski Lifts had a duty to “discover dangerous conditions through reasonable inspection, and repair that condition or warn the skier unless it is known or obvious.” Instruction 17 stated, “A statute relating to ski areas provides: All signs for instruction of the public shall be bold in design with wording short, simple, and to the point. All such signs shall be prominently placed.” 8 Relying primarily on products liability cases, Ski Lifts contends that proof of proximate cause on a failure to warn theory requires the plaintiff to show that he would have read and [*21] heeded an adequate warning. Because instructions 15 and 17 invited the jury to find Ski Lifts liable for failure to warn in the absence of evidence that Salvini would have behaved differently had he received better warnings, Ski Lifts contends that there was insufficient evidence to support these instructions. 9 We disagree.

8 RCW 79A.45.010(1).

9 We also note that during closing arguments, Ski Lifts did not contend that Salvini had failed to provide sufficient evidence of proximate cause on a failure to warn theory.

¶26 As a preliminary matter, we note that Ski Lifts objected to the final sentence of instruction 15 on the ground that it misstated the premises liability standard of care for ski area operators. But it did not object to instruction 15 on the ground that it erroneously instructed the jury on a failure-to-warn theory. Nor did Ski Lifts mention instruction 15 when it objected to instruction 17 on the ground that there was no evidence of proximate cause to support it. CR 51(f) requires that counsel state distinctly the matter to which he objects and the grounds for that objection so that the court may correct any error before instructing the jury. Because Ski Lifts did not apprise [*22] the trial court of the point of law in dispute, it waived any claimed error regarding instruction 15 or its interplay with instruction 17 in the context of this argument. Falk v. Keene Corp., 113 Wn.2d 645, 657-58, 782 P.2d 974 (1989).

¶27 Ski Lifts’ argument misconstrues the purpose of instruction 17 in this premises liability case. Salvini claimed that Ski Lifts “was negligent in the design, construction, and maintenance of the terrain park jump on which [he] was injured.” CP at 2960 (instruction 2). To establish an action for negligence, a plaintiff must show (1) the existence of a duty, (2) breach of that duty, (3) a resulting injury, and (4) proximate cause. Iwai, 129 Wn.2d at 96. In premises liability cases, a landowner’s duty of care is governed by the entrant’s common law status as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. Tincani v. Inland Empire Zoological Soc., 124 Wn.2d 121, 128, 875 P.2d 621 (1994). Here, the parties do not dispute that Salvini was a business invitee of Ski Lifts.

¶28 “The duty owed by the possessor to the invitee derives from the entrant’s expectation that the possessor has exercised due care to make the premises reasonably safe.” The Law of Premises Liability (3d ed.) [*23] § 4.1, at 75 (2001). This duty may be fulfilled by an appropriate warning or other affirmative action to remedy the danger. Id. “An invitee is entitled to expect that the possessor will take reasonable care to ascertain the actual condition of the premises and, having discovered it, either to make it reasonably safe by repair or to give warning of the actual condition and the risk involved therein.” Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343, cmt. d (1965).

¶29 Salvini contended that Ski Lifts was negligent under this common law premises liability standard. And Ski Lifts could satisfy its duty to protect its customers from unreasonably dangerous conditions by providing adequate warnings. Instruction 17 went directly to Ski Lifts’ defense that it had met this duty. This instruction properly allowed the jury to evaluate the reasonableness of the warnings provided in light of the statutory signage requirements and the degree to which Salvini was comparatively at fault for failing to see the whiteboard sign.

¶30 Both parties presented evidence at trial regarding the reasonableness and adequacy of the warning signs. Expert witnesses Dr. Richard Gill and Richard Penniman testified extensively regarding the [*24] inadequacy of Ski Lifts’ warning signs. Salvini testified that he did not see the whiteboard sign. Salvini’s skiing companion and Salvini’s father, as well as several Ski Lifts employees, also testified that they did not see the sign. Expert witnesses Helge Lien and Richard Penniman testified that Ski Lifts should have designated a starting point for the jump to prevent skiers from gaining too much speed and overshooting the jump. Salvini argued in closing that the jump was not reasonably safe and that the signage failed to warn of the specific hazard known to Ski Lifts. He did not contend that Ski Lifts was additionally liable on a separate failure-to-warn theory.

¶31 Ski Lifts introduced photographs of its warning signs into evidence, and the photos were shown to the jury. Ski Lifts employees Dan Brewster and Bryan Picard 10 testified regarding the location and content of the warning signs. Ski Lifts’ expert witness Elia Hamilton testified that the warning signs at the entrance of the terrain park were “absolutely” appropriate. Ski Lifts relied on the signage evidence to argue in closing that Salvini was adequately warned. 11 Ski Lifts also argued that it had no duty to post signs designating [*25] a starting point because that choice is part of the skier’s responsibility. “‘[P]rejudicial error occurs where the jury is instructed on an issue that lacks substantial evidence to support it.'” Manzanares v. Playhouse Corp., 25 Wn. App. 905, 910, 611 P.2d 797 (1980) (quoting Haynes v. Moore, 14 Wn. App. 668, 672, 545 P.2d 28 (1975)). There was ample evidence to support giving instruction 17. 12

10 Bryan Picard was employed by Ski Lifts at the time of Salvini’s accident, but no longer employed by Ski Lifts at the time of trial.

11 “Another part of the responsibility code, observe all posted signs and warnings. The information is there. We can’t make people read signs, we can’t make people do anything, these are choices. But the signs are there, and this is part of the skiers’ responsibility.” VRP (Apr. 4, 2007 A.M.) at 9.

12 To the extent Ski Lifts contends that instruction 15 in combination with instruction 17 presented a separate inadequate warning theory of liability, Ski Lifts’ failure to request a clarifying special verdict form requiring the jury to indicate which theories of liability the jury relied upon precludes it from raising such an argument on appeal. See Davis v. Microsoft Corp., 149 Wn.2d 521, 539-40, 70 P.3d 126 (2003).

¶32 Ski [*26] Lifts further contends that it had no duty to warn Salvini because he had used the jump before and was fully aware of its condition. This argument is not persuasive. Salvini’s previous use of the jump would not necessarily put him on notice that its design could increase the risk of severe injury from overshooting. Whether the jump’s deficiencies were “known and obvious” and whether Salvini should have anticipated the harm is a question of fact for the jury. Degel v. Majestic Mobile Manor, Inc., 129 Wn.2d 43, 54, 914 P.2d 728 (1996). The jury instructions properly allowed Ski Lifts to argue that the alleged defect was known or obvious, while also allowing Salvini to argue that it was not.

Evidence of Prior Accidents

¶33 Ski Lifts argues that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence and testimony regarding 15 prior incidents of overshooting the same jump at which Salvini was injured. The court ruled that these incident reports were not admissible “as substantive evidence of the existence of a dangerous condition,” but that they were sufficiently similar “to put Ski Lifts on notice of a potential defect to warrant further inquiry into the design of the jump, or the reasonableness [*27] of the signage in light of the multiple injuries caused as a result of overshooting the landing of the jump in question.” CP at 2635. Ski Lifts moved the court for a limiting instruction on the admission of prior incident reports. The trial court granted Ski Lifts’ motion and gave a limiting instruction.

Exhibits 154, 155, 160, 161, 163, 165, 166, 167, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175 and 176 are accident reports. These accident reports have been admitted into evidence for the limited purpose of showing that defendant had notice that people had overshot the landing of the jump on which the plaintiff was injured. You are not to infer anything beyond notice by admission of these prior accidents.

CP at 2672 (instruction 14).

¶34 “A trial court’s decision admitting or excluding evidence is reviewed for an abuse of discretion, which occurs only when the exercise of discretion is manifestly unreasonable or based on untenable grounds or reasons.” Kimball v. Otis Elevator Co., 89 Wn. App. 169, 172-73, 947 P.2d 1275 (1997).

¶35 In a negligence case, other accidents and injuries are inadmissible to show a general lack of care or negligence, but may be admissible on other, more limited issues if the conditions [*28] are sufficiently similar and the actions are sufficiently numerous. 13 5 Karl B. Tegland, Washington Practice: Evidence § 402.11, at 304 (2007) (citing Panitz v. Orenge, 10 Wn. App. 317, 322, 518 P.2d 726 (1973)). Evidence of prior accidents which occurred under substantially similar circumstances is admissible for the purpose of demonstrating a dangerous condition or notice of a defect. Davis v. Globe Mach. Mfg. Co., 102 Wn.2d 68, 77, 684 P.2d 692 (1984). Turner v. City of Tacoma, 72 Wn.2d 1029, 1036, 435 P.2d 927 (1967).

13 Some courts have recently relaxed the substantial similarity requirement when the evidence is offered for the purpose of showing notice. 5 Tegland, supra, § 402.11 (Supp. 2008).

¶36 The admitted reports need not be identical, only substantially similar. See, e.g., Seay v. Chrysler Corp., 93 Wn.2d 319, 324, 609 P.2d 1382 (1980) (upholding admission of evidence of other accidents involving same type of car chassis); Blood v. Allied Stores Corp., 62 Wn.2d 187, 189, 381 P.2d 742 (1963) (upholding exclusion of reports that showed “no similarity”); Miller v. Staton, 58 Wn.2d 879, 884-85, 365 P.2d 333 (1961) (upholding admission of evidence of previous fights in a tavern); [*29] O’Dell v. Chi., Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pac. R.R.., 6 Wn. App. 817, 826, 496 P.2d 519 (1972) (upholding admission of evidence of other near-accidents at same railroad crossing).

¶37 Ski Lifts first argues that Salvini failed to establish that the prior incidents were substantially similar to his situation because 13 of the 15 incident reports involved snowboarders, not skiers, and because the two reports involving skiers occurred under different conditions. We disagree. The trial court rejected most of the 66 incident reports offered by Salvini because it found that they were not sufficiently similar, and it admitted only “[t]hose accident reports documenting an injury occurring as a result of overshooting the jump in question, on either skis or snowboards (which go slower than skis.) … .” CP at 2635. If overshooting was a problem for slower moving snowboarders, it is reasonable to expect it to be a problem for skiers as well. Admitting evidence of prior accidents that occurred at the same table top jump, whether they involved skiers or snowboarders, was not an abuse of discretion.

¶38 Ski Lifts argues that the trial court’s limiting instruction was a confusing and meaningless restriction on [*30] the use of the evidence. 14 But Ski Lifts did not assign error to this limiting instruction and has therefore waived any objection to it. 15 Barrett v. Lucky Seven Saloon, Inc., 152 Wn.2d 259, 281, 96 P.3d 386 (2004). Indeed, Ski Lifts asked the court to read the limiting instruction immediately before the prior incident evidence was presented to the jury and to include it among the court’s instructions to the jury. The court granted both requests.

14 Ski Lifts appears to challenge both the giving and the language of the limiting instruction. “A limiting instruction is available as a matter of right. If evidence is admissible only for a limited purpose and an appropriate limiting instruction is requested, the court may not refuse to give the instruction.” 5 Tegland, supra, § 105.2 (2007) (interpreting ER 105).

15 The limiting instruction requested and proposed by Ski Lifts contained a final sentence stating, “You are not to infer from these accident reports that the defendant was negligent.” CP at 2637. Salvini requested that the court remove that sentence and replace it with, “[Y]ou are not to infer anything beyond notice by admission of these prior accidents.” 1 Transcript of Proceedings (TR) (Mar. 12, 2007) at 28. [*31] The trial court agreed with Salvini and modified Ski Lifts’ proposed instruction accordingly. Ski Lifts did not object.

¶39 Ski Lifts argues that the prior incidents should not have been admitted for the purpose of notice, because it conceded that it was aware of overshooting incidents. “Evidence of similar accidents is inadmissible to prove notice, if there is no question that there was notice, or if notice is not a disputed issue in the case.” 5 Tegland, supra, at 306 (citing Hinkel v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 6 Wn. App. 548, 555-56, 494 P.2d 1008 (1972)); Porter v. Chicago, M., P. & P.R. Co., 41 Wn.2d 836, 842, 252 P.2d 306 (1953). We disagree.

[T]he fact that evidence is undisputed does not, alone, make the evidence inadmissible. Undisputed evidence may be valuable background information or other information that the jury, in fairness, ought to hear.

Thus, as a general rule, a party cannot frustrate the introduction of evidence by offering to stipulate to the underlying facts.

5 Tegland, supra, at 469. See, e.g., State v. Pirtle, 127 Wn.2d 628, 652, 904 P.2d 245 (1995); State v. Rice, 110 Wn.2d 577, 598-99, 757 P.2d 889 (1988); the plaintiff is not bound to stipulate to the issue unless its probative [*32] value is substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice. Pirtle, 127 Wn.2d at 653.

¶40 The issue in this case went beyond the mere fact that Ski Lifts had notice of overshooting. The prior incident reports were probative of the extent and nature of the notice, which went directly to the question of whether Ski Lifts met its duty of care based on what it knew. Salvini is not categorically bound from introducing evidence of substantially similar prior overshooting incidents merely because Ski Lifts admitted it knew that they were occurring.

¶41 Ski Lifts also contends that the evidence was not probative of notice of a design defect because overshooting incidents are common. But evidence of prior accidents goes directly to the issue of whether Ski Lifts exercised reasonable care in light of what it knew about the performance of this particular table top jump. Therefore, it had probative value.

¶42 Ski Lifts argues that the incident reports should have been excluded under ER 403, which provides that relevant evidence “may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury … .” The burden of showing prejudice [*33] is on the party seeking to exclude the evidence. Carson v. Fine, 123 Wn.2d 206, 225, 867 P.2d 610 (1994); 5 Tegland, supra, § 403.2 at 435.

[T]he exercise of discretion in balancing the danger of prejudice against the probative value of the evidence is a matter within the trial court’s discretion and should be overturned only if no reasonable person could take the view adopted by the trial court. A trial judge, not an appellate court, is in the best position to evaluate the dynamics of a jury trial and therefore the prejudicial effect of a piece of evidence.

State v. Posey, 161 Wn.2d 638, 648, 167 P.3d 560 (2007) (internal citations omitted).

¶43 Ski Lifts argues that any probative value was outweighed by the extreme prejudicial effect, because Salvini’s counsel and expert witnesses referenced the incident reports not just to demonstrate notice, but also to show that the jump was improperly designed and unreasonably dangerous. But although Ski Lifts lodged “a continuing objection regarding the accident reports,” 1 TR (Mar. 12, 2007) at 51, it never objected to Salvini’s closing argument or trial testimony that allegedly went beyond the limited purpose of notice. Rather, it raised this issue [*34] for the first time in its motion for a new trial. To challenge a trial court’s admission of evidence on appeal, a party must raise a timely and specific objection at trial. State v. Gray, 134 Wn. App. 547, 557, 138 P.3d 1123 (2006), review denied, 160 Wn.2d 1008 (2007). ?To be timely, the party must make the objection at the earliest possible opportunity after the basis for the objection becomes apparent.” Id. at 557 n.27. By failing to object at trial, a party waives any claim that the evidence was erroneously admitted. ER 103(a)(1); State v. Warren, 134 Wn. App. 44, 57-58, 138 P.3d 1081 (2006), review granted, 161 Wn.2d 1001 (2007).

¶44 Because Ski Lifts did not timely object to the improper argument and testimony, Ski Lifts waives any challenge to it now on appeal. “‘The purpose of a motion in limine is to dispose of legal matters so counsel will not be forced to make comments in the presence of the jury which might prejudice his presentation.'” State v. Sullivan, 69 Wn. App. 167, 170-71, 847 P.2d 953 (1993) (quoting State v. Kelly, 102 Wn.2d 188, 193, 685 P.2d 564 (1984)). But when a party who prevails on a motion in limine later suspects a violation of that ruling, that party has a [*35] duty to bring the violation to the court’s attention to allow the court to decide what remedy, if any, to direct. A.C. ex rel Cooper v. Bellingham Sch. Dist., 125 Wn. App. 511, 525, 105 P.3d 400 (2004). As one court explained,

[W]here the evidence has been admitted notwithstanding the trial court’s prior exclusionary ruling, the complaining party [is] required to object in order to give the trial court the opportunity of curing any potential prejudice. Otherwise, we would have a situation fraught with a potential for serious abuse. A party so situated could simply lie back, not allowing the trial court to avoid the potential prejudice, gamble on the verdict, and then seek a new trial on appeal.

Sullivan, 69 Wn. App. at 172.

¶45 Here, while the court ruled that Salvini would be allowed to present evidence of prior incidents for the limited issue of notice, Ski Lifts was still required to object when Salvini’s counsel elicited improper testimony in violation of the motion in limine so the court could attempt to cure any resulting prejudice. By failing to do so, Ski Lifts waived review of this issue. In addition, Ski Lifts’ nonspecific continuing objection was insufficient to preserve the issue [*36] for appellate review. State v. Boast, 87 Wn.2d 447, 451, 553 P.2d 1322 (1976); State v. Saunders, 132 Wn. App. 592, 607, 132 P.3d 743 (2006).

¶46 Ski Lifts further contends that the evidence was prejudicial because the jury might have improperly punished Ski Lifts for being a bad actor or improperly inferred that the jump must have been defective. We disagree. As discussed above, Ski Lifts successfully moved for a limiting instruction, which was read to the jury at the time the evidence was presented and was included in the court’s instructions to the jury. “A jury is presumed to follow the court’s instructions and that presumption will prevail until it is overcome by a showing otherwise.” Carnation Co. v. Hill, 115 Wn.2d 184, 187, 796 P.2d 416 (1990) (curative instructions); see also State v. Lough, 125 Wn.2d 847, 864, 889 P.2d 487 (1995) (limiting instructions). And the trial court also instructed the jury in instruction 1 that “[i]t is your duty to decide the facts of the case based on the evidence presented to you during this trial” and that “[y]ou must not let your emotions overcome your rational thought process. You must reach your decision based on the facts proved to you and on [*37] the law given to you, not on sympathy, bias, or personal preference.” CP at 2657-59. Therefore, Ski Lifts’ arguments that the jury might have misused the evidence or that it might have improperly punished Ski Lifts are purely speculative.

¶47 In sum, we conclude that the jury instructions accurately stated the law, were not misleading, allowed Ski Lifts to argue its theory of the case, and were supported by substantial evidence. We further conclude that the prior incident reports were properly admitted. Accordingly, we affirm.

Cox and Appelwick, JJ., concur.

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Tone v. Song Mountain Ski Center, et al., 37 Misc. 3d 1217A; 2012 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5136; 2012 NY Slip Op 52069U

Tone v. Song Mountain Ski Center, et al., 37 Misc. 3d 1217A; 2012 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5136; 2012 NY Slip Op 52069U

Christina J. Tone and Steven Tone, Plaintiffs, against Song Mountain Ski Center and South Slope Development Corp. and their Agents, Servants and Employees, and Peter Harris, Individually and d/b/a Song Mountain Ski Center, and Individually as a member, officer, shareholder and director of South Slope Development Corp. and Song Mountain Ski Center, Defendants.

2009-7913

SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, ONONDAGA COUNTY

37 Misc. 3d 1217A; 2012 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5136; 2012 NY Slip Op 52069U

November 2, 2012, Decided

NOTICE: THIS OPINION IS UNCORRECTED AND WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED IN THE PRINTED OFFICIAL REPORTS.

CORE TERMS: lift, chair lift, attendant, skis, skier, mountain, chairlift, skiing, triple, gate, inspection, ski lift, ski area, training, riding, slowed, feet, ramp, snow, speed, deposition testimony, issue of fact, deposition, ex-husband, passenger, downhill, tramway, sport, safe, top

HEADNOTES

[*1217A] Negligence–Assumption of Risk–Skier Injured on Chair Lift.

COUNSEL: [**1] For Plaintiffs: MICHELLE RUDDEROW, ESQ., OF WILLIAMS & RUDDEROW, PLLC.

For Defendants: MATTHEW J. KELLY, ESQ., OF ROEMER, WALLENS, GOLD & MINEAUX, LLP.

JUDGES: Donald A. Greenwood, Supreme Court Justice.

OPINION BY: Donald A. Greenwood

OPINION

The defendants have moved for summary judgment dismissal of the complaint against them, which alleges that the plaintiff suffered a fractured hip at Song Mountain on February 25, 2007 while attempting to exit a chair lift. The defendants move for dismissal on the grounds that all of the evidence shows that the ski lift was properly designed and operated and that the plaintiff assumed the risk of her injury.

As the proponent of the motion, the defendants are required to establish their entitlement to dismissal as a matter of law through the tender of admissible evidence. See, Hunt v. Kostarellis, 27 AD3d 1178, 810 N.Y.S.2d 765 (4th Dept. 2006). The defendants have done so here through their [***2] reliance, inter alia, on the plaintiff’s deposition testimony. The plaintiff testified that she was skiing with her nine year old son at the time and that she was an intermediate level skier with approximately fifteen years of experience. She owned her own skis and boots and had skied more than fifty times. [**2] On the date of the accident, she took two runs down the mountain and on both occasions rode the triple chair lift without incident. On her third occasion up the mountain she again rode the triple chair lift. Her son was with her, as was her ex-husband. Plaintiff testified that she sat on the right side of the chair, her son sat in the middle and the ex-husband sat on the left side. According to plaintiff, while riding up the chair lift she noticed that her skis were crossed with her son’s skis, so she let her son get off the chair lift first. Her ex-husband also got off the chair lift, but plaintiff waited. During her deposition, the plaintiff was shown the “Incident Report Form” completed at the time, which she signed. The form indicates that plaintiff said that she let her son get off first because their skis were crossed and that “I waited too late, and when I jumped approximately 6 feet, landed on my left hip.” When asked at her deposition what she did after her son got off, she responded that she did not remember, that she did not recall trying to get off, but that it happened so quickly that when the chairlift made its turn she “just flew off.”

The defendants also rely upon an [**3] inspection report completed by the Department of Labor on December 12, 2006, two months before the accident. An inspection of the chairlift was conducted by the Industry Inspection Bureau. Two violations unrelated to the design of the lift or exit ramp were found at that time and two unrelated violations were subsequently determined. Defendants note, however, that no deficiencies were found with respect to the design of the lift or exit ramp, the speed of the lift, or the location of the safety gate on the lift.

In addition, the defendants rely upon New York State regulations referenced in the Department of Labor inspections and standards promulgated by the American National Standards Institute which address industry wide safety standards for a variety of products and industries. Those regulations provide that the maximum relative carrier speed in feet per minute for chair lifts states that a triple chairlift carrying skiers may travel at a maximum speed of five hundred feet per minute. Defendants also provide an affidavit of Peter Harris, the President of South Slope Development Corporation, the operator of Song Mountain. Harris indicates that the chairlift traveled at a maximum speed [**4] of four hundred to five hundred feet per minute, which is equal to less than five miles per hour. He also claims that plaintiff failed to depart from the chairlift at the appropriate time, despite being warned by the unload signs. In addition, he indicates that the lift has certain safety mechanisms and if the plaintiff was to stay on the lift as it turned around the bull wheel heading downhill, her skis would hit the safety gate, which would stop the lift and allow for a safe evacuation of the lift. Plaintiff instead jumped from the lift before the safety gate, resulting in her being injured. He notes that the design of the lift specifically would have prevented the injury if she had remained on it, and the fact that the lift operated property is demonstrated by the fact that of the three people on the lift, two of them exited the lift in accordance with proper procedure and were not injured.

Defendants have also established in the first instance that any argument that the lift attendants were not properly trained is without merit, since Harris testified at his deposition that Song Mountain uses an industry standard lift operating training program designed by the National Ski Areas [**5] Association and that the program includes an in depth training DVD, training [***3] manuals and tests. The defendants also rely upon the deposition testimony of Carl Blaney, a long time attendant, who testified that the lift attendants took annual quizzes prior to the start of the season in order to demonstrate that they understood their duties in operating the lifts. It is also argued that plaintiff’s contention that the lift should have been slowed because plaintiff’s nine year old son was riding is incorrect. Blaney testified that the lift would not have been slowed for that reason, nor is there any evidence that simply because a child is riding the lift that it should be slowed. Defendants also point to the lift attendant’s daily log for the date of the accident, which demonstrates that the triple chair lift was fully checked on that date to ensure that all systems were working properly. The stops switches and safety gate were working, the ramps were snow covered and at a proper grade, the phones were working properly and the counter weight on the lift was clear and within normal limits. It is argued that since all of the evidence demonstrates that the lift was operating properly, the [**6] cause of the accident was solely plaintiff’s failure to disembark at the appropriate location, followed by her failure to remain seated once she missed the off load ramp. The defendants have met their burden in establishing that since there is no evidence that they improperly maintained the ski lift or that it was negligently designed, plaintiff cannot make a showing that the risks to her were increased or hidden. See, Sontag v. Holiday Valley, Inc., 38 AD3d 1350, 832 N.Y.S.2d 705 (4th Dept. 2007); see also, Painter v. Peek’n Peak Recreation, Inc., 2 AD3d 1289, 769 N.Y.S.2d 678 (4th Dept. 2003).

The defendants have also met their burden in the first instance of establishing that the plaintiff assumed the risk of her injury. Defendants point to the General Obligations Law, which addresses safety in skiing. The triple chair lift is identified as a “passenger tramway”, a mechanical device intended to transport skiers for the purpose of providing access to ski slopes and trails as defined by the Commissioner of Labor… See, GOL §18-102. Under “duties of passengers” the following are listed: to familiarize themselves with the safe use of any tramway prior to its use and…to board or disembark from passenger tramways only at [**7] points or areas designated by the ski area operator. See, GOL §18-104; see also, 12 NYCRR 54.4(a). A ski area operator is relieved from liability for risks inherent in the sport of downhill skiing, including the risks associated with the use of a chair lift when the participant is aware of, appreciates and voluntarily assumes the risk. See, DeLacy v. Catamount Development Corp., 302 AD2d 735, 755 N.Y.S.2d 484 (3rd Dept. 2003). In assessing whether one injured in the course of participating in a sporting or recreational event has assumed the risk posed by an assuredly dangerous condition, the critical inquiry is whether that condition is unique, constituting a hazard over and above the usual dangers that are inherent in the sport. See, Simoneau v. State of New York, 248 AD2d 865, 669 N.Y.S.2d 972 (3rd Dept. 1998), citing, Morgan v. State of New York, 90 NY2d 471, 685 N.E.2d 202, 662 N.Y.S.2d 421 (1997). Defendants have established that plaintiff was an experienced skier and had skied extensively at Song Mountain. It is further argued that the plaintiff assumed the risk of her injury by failing to comply with the requirements of the safety and skiing code by disembarking at the appropriate location. Plaintiff testified that she failed to get off the lift [**8] at the dismount area and had she stayed on she would have tripped the safety gate, which would have stopped the lift automatically. Inasmuch as the defendants have met their burden in the first instance, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to raise an [***4] issue of fact. See, Hunt, supra.

The plaintiff points to a recent Fourth Department case where the plaintiff skier was riding a chair lift with her son, a snow boarder. Plaintiff’s skis became entangled with the snow board and her son panicked and began yelling that he could not untangle the skis, despite frantic attempts. See, Miller v. Holiday Valley, Inc., 85 AD3d 1706, 925 N.Y.S.2d 785 (4th Dept. 2011). Plaintiff’s son exited the lift, but he pulled the plaintiff out of the lift chair in the process and she was injured. See, id. Plaintiff alleged that the top lift attendant should have slowed or stopped the lift because she and her son reached the unloading area. See, id. The court found that a question of fact existed as to whether the alleged failure to operate the ski lift in a safe manner was a proximate cause of the accident. See, id. In so finding, the court noted plaintiff’s deposition testimony that her son was yelling and making frantic attempts [**9] to untangle the skis and snow board and that plaintiff’s expert relied on that testimony in concluding that “the top lift attendant had sufficient time to observe plaintiff’s distress and to engage in what defendant’s night lift operation supervisor characterized as the exercise of judgment to slow or stop the lift.” Id. Defendants correctly argue that there is no evidence in the present case that plaintiff and her son caused any type of commotion prior to reaching the unloading area or tried to alert the attendant in any way for the top lift attendant to have noticed they were having any difficulty. The plaintiff has failed to come forward with proof in admissible form as in Miller, supra. that either the ski lift operator saw or should have seen that the plaintiff was in distress. Nor does plaintiff provide an expert opinion that based upon the facts here, the operator had time to take an action that would have prevented plaintiff’s fall. Plaintiff has likewise failed to raise an issue of fact as to whether she assumed the risk of her injury. Plaintiff does not dispute her experience as a skier or that she was familiar with the subject lift, as required by law. See, GOL §18-104; see [**10] also, 12 NYCRR §54.4. Nor has she submitted evidence to raise an issue of fact as to whether the defendants “created a dangerous condition over and above the usual dangers inherent in the sport of [downhill skiing]” Bennett v. Kissing Bridge Corporation, 17 AD3d 990, 794 N.Y.S.2d 538 (4th Dept. 2005), quoting, Owen v. RJS Safety Equip., 79 NY2d 967, 591 N.E.2d 1184, 582 N.Y.S.2d 998 (1992); see also, Miller, supra, quoting, Sontag, supra.

The plaintiff has also failed in her burden with respect to whether the lift attendants were properly trained, and in fact points to the National Ski Area’s Association Training completed by defendant’s employees. Nor has the plaintiff raised an issue as to whether the lift was properly operating on the day of the accident. Plaintiff has not disputed the inspection reports or the defendants’ compliance with the requisite regulations.

NOW, therefore, for the foregoing reasons, it is

ORDERED, that the defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissal is granted.

ENTER

Dated: November 2, 2012

Syracuse, New York

DONALD A. GREENWOOD

Supreme Court Justice [***5]

WordPress Tags: Song,Mountain,Center,Misc,LEXIS,Slip,Christina,Steven,Plaintiffs,South,Slope,Development,Corp,Agents,Servants,Employees,Peter,Harris,member,officer,shareholder,director,Defendants,SUPREME,COURT,YORK,ONONDAGA,November,NOTICE,OPINION,OFFICIAL,REPORTS,TERMS,gate,inspection,area,feet,ramp,testimony,fact,husband,HEADNOTES,Negligence,Assumption,Risk,Skier,Chair,Lift,COUNSEL,MICHELLE,WILLIAMS,PLLC,MATTHEW,ROEMER,WALLENS,GOLD,MINEAUX,JUDGES,Donald,Greenwood,Justice,judgment,dismissal,complaint,plaintiff,February,injury,proponent,entitlement,Hunt,Kostarellis,Dept,reliance,accident,incident,Report,Form,Department,Labor,December,Industry,Bureau,violations,deficiencies,location,addition,State,inspections,American,National,Standards,Institute,products,industries,carrier,affidavit,President,Corporation,operator,hour,mechanisms,bull,evacuation,accordance,procedure,instance,argument,attendants,Areas,Association,depth,manuals,Carl,Blaney,duties,contention,systems,ramps,failure,Sontag,Valley,Painter,Peek,Peak,Recreation,General,Obligations,device,purpose,Commissioner,Under,passengers,NYCRR,participant,DeLacy,Catamount,event,dangers,Simoneau,Morgan,requirements,Fourth,boarder,Miller,manner,defendant,supervisor,commotion,action,Bennett,Bridge,Owen,Equip,compliance,ENTER,Syracuse,skis,chairlift,tramway,nine,upon,skiers,five,whether,supra


New Mexico Skier Safety Act

New Mexico Skier Safety Act

Chapter 24.  Health and Safety

Article 15.  Ski Safety

Go to the New Mexico Code Archive Directory

Contents

§ 24-15-1.  Short title. 1

§ 24-15-2.  Purpose of act1

§ 24-15-3.  Definitions. 2

§ 24-15-4.  Insurance. 2

§ 24-15-5.  Penalty. 3

§ 24-15-6.  Provisions in lieu of others. 4

§ 24-15-7.  Duties of ski area operators with respect to skiing areas. 4

§ 24-15-8.  Duties of ski area operators with respect to ski lifts. 5

§ 24-15-9.  Duties of passengers. 5

§ 24-15-10.  Duties of the skiers. 5

§ 24-15-11.  Liability of ski area operators. 7

§ 24-15-12.  Liability of passengers. 7

§ 24-15-13.  Liability of skiers. 7

§ 24-15-14.  Limitation of actions; notice of claim.. 7

§ 24-15-1.  Short title

Chapter 24, Article 15 NMSA 1978 may be cited as the “Ski Safety Act”.

§ 24-15-2.  Purpose of act

A. In order to safeguard life, health, property and the welfare of this state, it is the policy of New Mexico to protect its citizens and visitors from unnecessary hazards in the operation of ski lifts and passenger aerial tramways and to require liability insurance to be carried by operators of ski lifts and tramways. The primary responsibility for the safety of operation, maintenance, repair and inspection of ski lifts and tramways rests with the operators of such devices. The primary responsibility for the safety of the individual skier while engaging in the sport of skiing rests with the skier himself. The state, through the Ski Safety Act [24-15-1 NMSA 1978], recognizes these responsibilities and duties on the part of the ski area operator and the skier.

B. 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 the Ski Safety Act [24-15-1 NMSA 1978] 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 or passenger expressly assumes and for which there can be no recovery.

§ 24-15-3.  Definitions

As used in the Ski Safety Act [24-15-1 NMSA 1978]:

A.  “ski lift” means any device operated by a ski area operator used to transport passengers by single or double reversible tramway, chair lift or gondola lift, T-bar lift, J-bar lift, platter lift or similar device or a fiber rope tow;

B.  “passenger” means any person, at any time in the year, who is lawfully using a ski lift or is waiting to embark or has recently disembarked from a ski lift and is in its immediate vicinity;

C.  “ski area” means the property owned, permitted, leased or under the control of the ski area operator and administered as a single enterprise within the state;

D.  “ski area operator” means any person, partnership, corporation or other commercial entity and its agents, officers, employees or representatives who has operational responsibility for any ski area or ski lift;

E.  “skiing” means participating in the sport in which a person slides on snow, ice or a combination of snow and ice while using skis;

F.   “skiing area” means all slopes, trails, terrain parks and competition areas, not including any ski lift;

G.  “skier” means any person, including a person enrolled in ski school or other class for instruction, who is on skis and present at a skiing area under the control of a ski area operator for the purpose of engaging in the sport of skiing by utilizing the ski slopes and trails and does not include a passenger;

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

I.    “ski retention device” means a device designed to help prevent runaway skis; and

J.   “skis” means any device used for skiing, including alpine skis, telemark skis, cross-country skis, mono-skis, snowboards, bladerunners, adaptive devices used by disabled skiers, or tubes, sleds or any other device used to accomplish the same or a similar purpose to participate in the sport of skiing.

§ 24-15-4.  Insurance

A. Every operator shall file with the state corporation commission [public regulation commission] and keep on file therewith proof of financial responsibility in the form of a current insurance policy in a form approved by the commission, issued by an insurance company authorized to do business in the state, conditioned to pay, within the limits of liability herein prescribed, all final judgments for personal injury or property damage proximately caused or resulting from negligence of the operator covered thereby, as such negligence is defined and limited by the Ski Safety Act [24-15-1 NMSA 1978]. The minimum limits of liability insurance to be provided by operators shall be as follows:

SKI SAFETY ACT

Liability insurance

Limits of Liability

Required Minimum Coverage’s

For Injuries, Death or Damages

Kind and Number of Lifts Operated

Limits for Bodily Injury to or Death of Property One Person Damage

Limits for Bodily Injury to or Death of All Persons Injured or Killed in Any One Accident

Property Damage

Not more than three surface lifts

$ 100,000

$ 300,000

$ 5,000

Not more than three ski lifts, including one or more chair lifts

250,000

500,000

25,000

More than three ski lifts or one or more tramways

500,000

1,000,000

50,000.

B. No ski lift or tramway shall be operated in this state after the effective date of the Ski Safety Act [24-15-1 NMSA 1978] unless a current insurance policy as required herein is in effect and properly filed with the state corporation commission [public regulation commission]. Each policy shall contain a provision that it cannot be canceled prior to its expiration date without thirty days’ written notice of intent to cancel served by registered mail on the insured and on the commission.

§ 24-15-5.  Penalty

Any operator convicted of operating a ski lift or aerial passenger tramway without having obtained and kept in force an insurance policy as required by the Ski Safety Act [24-15-1 NMSA 1978] is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($ 500) for each day of illegal operation. The attorney general or the district attorney of the county where the ski area is located has the power to bring proceedings in the district court of the county in which the ski area is located to enjoin the operation of any ski lift or tramway being operated without a current insurance policy, in the amounts prescribed herein, being obtained and kept in force and covering the operator concerned.

§ 24-15-6.  Provisions in lieu of others

Provisions of the Ski Safety Act [24-15-1 NMSA 1978] are in lieu of all other regulations, registration or licensing requirements for ski areas, ski lifts and tramways. Ski lifts and tramways shall not be construed to be common carriers within the meaning of the laws of New Mexico.

§ 24-15-7.  Duties of ski area operators with respect to skiing areas

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

A.  to mark all snow-maintenance vehicles and to furnish such vehicles with flashing or rotating lights, which shall be in operation whenever the vehicles are working or are in movement in the skiing area;

B.  to mark with a visible sign or other warning implement the location of any hydrant or similar equipment used in snow-making operations and located on ski slopes and trails;

C.  to mark in a plainly visible manner the top or entrance to each slope, trail or area with the appropriate symbol for its relative degree of difficulty, using the symbols established or approved by the national ski areas association; and those slopes, trails or areas which are closed, or portions of which present an unusual obstacle or hazard, shall be marked at the top or entrance or at the point of the obstacle or hazard with the appropriate symbols as are established or approved by the national ski areas association or by the New Mexico ski area operators association;

D.  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 in accordance with the symbols and containing a key to the symbols;

E.  to designate by trail board or otherwise at the top of or entrance to the subject trail or slope which trails or slopes are open or closed;

F.   to place or cause to be placed, whenever snow-maintenance vehicles or snow-making 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 or entrance of such trail or slope;

G.  to provide ski patrol personnel trained in first aid, which training meets at least the requirements of the national ski patrol outdoor emergency care course, and also trained in winter rescue and toboggan handling to serve the anticipated number of injured skiers and to provide personnel trained for the evacuation of passengers from stalled aerial ski lifts. A first aid room or building shall be provided with adequate first aid supplies, and properly equipped rescue toboggans shall be made available at all reasonable times at the top of ski slopes and trails to transport injured skiers from the ski slopes and trails to the first aid room;

H.  to post notice of the requirements of the Ski Safety Act [24-15-1 NMSA 1978] concerning the use of ski retention devices;

I.    to warn of or correct particular hazards or dangers known to the operator where feasible to do so; and

J.   to warn of snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) operated on the ski slopes or trails with at least one lighted headlamp, one lighted red tail lamp, a brake system and a fluorescent flag that is at least forty square inches and is mounted at least six feet above the bottom of the tracks or tires.

§ 24-15-8.  Duties of ski area operators with respect to ski lifts

Every ski area operator shall have the duty to operate, repair and maintain all ski lifts in safe condition. The ski area operator, prior to December 1 of each year, shall certify to the state corporation commission [public regulation commission] the policy number and name of the company providing liability insurance for the ski area and the date of the ski lift inspections and the name of the person making such inspections.

§ 24-15-9.  Duties of passengers

Every passenger shall have the duty to conduct himself carefully and not to:

A.  board or embark upon or disembark from a ski lift except at an area designated for such purpose;

B.  drop, throw or expel any object from a ski lift;

C.  do any act which shall interfere with the running or operation of a ski lift;

D.  use any ski lift 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 instruction before boarding the ski lift;

E.  willfully or negligently engage in any type of conduct which contributes to or causes injury to any person;

F.   embark on a ski lift without the authority of the ski area operator;

G.  use any ski lift without engaging such safety or restraining devices as may be provided; or

H.  wear skis without properly securing ski retention devices; or

I.    use a ski lift while intoxicated or under the influence of any controlled substance.

§ 24-15-10.  Duties of the skiers

A. It is recognized that skiing as a recreational sport is inherently hazardous to skiers, and it is the duty of each skier to conduct himself carefully.

B.  A person who takes part in the sport of skiing accepts as a matter of law the dangers inherent in that sport insofar as they are obvious and necessary. 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, in the skiing area, 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 snow-making equipment which are plainly visible or are plainly marked in accordance with the provisions of Section 24-15-7 NMSA 1978; except for any injuries to persons or property resulting from any breach of duty imposed upon ski area operators under the provisions of Sections 24-15-7 and 24-15-8 NMSA 1978. Therefore, each skier shall have the sole individual responsibility for knowing the range of his own ability to negotiate any slope or trail, and it shall be the duty of each skier to ski within the limits of the skier’s own ability, to maintain 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.

C.  Responsibility for collisions by any skier while actually skiing, with any person or object, shall be solely that of each individual involved in the collision, except where an employee, agent or officer of the ski area operator is personally involved in a collision while in the course and scope of his employment or where a collision resulted from any breach of duty imposed upon a ski area operator under the provisions of Sections 24-15-7 or 24-15-8 NMSA 1978. Each skier has the duty to stay clear of and avoid collisions with snow-maintenance equipment, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles marked in compliance with the provisions of Subsections A and J of Section 24-15-7 NMSA 1978, all other vehicles, lift towers, signs and any other structures, amenities or equipment on the ski slopes and trails or in the skiing area.

D.  No person shall:

(1)place any object in the skiing area or on the uphill track of any ski lift which may cause a passenger or skier to fall;

(2)cross the track of any T-bar lift, J-bar lift, platter lift or similar device or a fiber rope tow, except at a designated location;

(3)when injured while skiing or using a ski lift or, while skiing, when involved in a collision with any skier or object in which an injury results, leave the ski area before giving his name and current address to the ski area operator, or representative or employee of the ski area operator, and the location where the injury or collision occurred and the circumstances thereof; provided, however, in the event a skier fails to give the notice required by this paragraph, a court, in determining whether or not such failure constitutes a violation of the Ski Safety Act [24-15-1 NMSA 1978], may consider the reasonableness or feasibility of giving such notice; or

(4)use a ski lift, skiing area, slopes or trails while intoxicated or under the influence of any controlled substance.

E.  No skier shall fail to wear retention straps or other ski retention devices to help prevent runaway skis.

F.   Any skier upon being injured shall indicate, to the ski patrol personnel offering first aid treatment or emergency removal to a first aid room, his acceptance or rejection of such services as provided by the ski area operator. If such service is not refused or if the skier is unable to indicate his acceptance or rejection of such service, the acceptance of the service is presumed to have been accepted by the skier. Such acceptance shall not constitute a waiver of any action for negligent provision of the service by the ski patrol personnel.

§ 24-15-11.  Liability of ski area operators

Any ski area operator shall be liable for loss or damages caused by the failure to follow the duties set forth in Sections 24-15-7 and 24-15-8 NMSA 1978 where the violation of duty is causally related to the loss or damage suffered, and shall continue to be subject to liability in accordance with common-law principles of vicarious liability for the willful or negligent actions of its principals, agents or employees which cause injury to a passenger, skier or other person. The ski area operator shall not be liable to any passenger or skier acting in violation of his duties as set forth in Sections 24-15-9 and 24-15-10 NMSA 1978 where the violation of duty is causally related to the loss or damage suffered.

§ 24-15-12.  Liability of passengers

Any passenger shall be liable for loss or damages resulting from violations of the duties set forth in Section 24-15-9 NMSA 1978, and shall not be able to recover from the ski area operator for any losses or damages where the violation of duty is causally related to the loss or damage suffered.

§ 24-15-13.  Liability of skiers

Any skier shall be liable for loss or damages resulting from violations of the duties set forth in Section 24-15-10 NMSA 1978, and shall not be able to recover from the ski area operator for any losses or damages where the violation of duty is causally related to the loss or damage suffered.

§ 24-15-14.  Limitation of actions; notice of claim

A. Unless a ski area operator is in violation of the Ski Safety Act [24-15-1 NMSA 1978], with respect to the skiing area and ski lifts, and the violation is a proximate cause of the injury complained of, no action shall lie against such ski area operator by any skier or passenger or any representative of a skier or passenger. This prohibition shall not prevent the bringing of an action against a ski area operator for damages arising from injuries caused by negligent operation, maintenance or repair of the ski lift.

B. No suit or action shall be maintained against any ski area operator for injuries incurred as a result of the use of a ski lift or ski area unless the same is commenced within three years of the time of the occurrence of the injuries complained of.

Created January 9, 2012

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