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Your Jurisdiction and Venue clause must be relevant to the possible location of the accident. Screw this up and you can void your release as occurred in this ski racing case.

This is not the first decision I’ve read where the United States Ski Association (USSA) had its release laughed out of court. The court found ZERO legal arguments for the jurisdiction and venue clause in the release used.

Kearney, v. Okemo Limited Liability Company, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106011

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

Plaintiff: Brian J Tierney

Defendant: Okemo Limited Liability Company, d/b/a Okemo Mountain Resort, and The United States Ski and Snowboard Association,

Plaintiff Claims: alleging negligent installation of safety netting during a downhill alpine ski race

Defendant Defenses: Release

Holding: for the plaintiff

Year: 2016

The United States Ski Association (USSA) has members sign a release online before they can participate in any USSA as a ski race. Ski areas rely on this release when holding USSA sanctioned races. The USSA release, however, is a poorly written document and time after time the ski areas, and the USSA lose a lawsuit by a plaintiff because they relied on the USSA release.

The number-one  reason why the USSA as a release is thrown out by the courts is the jurisdiction and venue clause. Jurisdiction is the law that will be applied case and venue is the actual location of where the trial will be held. The USSA release says the jurisdiction for any case is Colorado. The problem is unless the accident occurred in Colorado; no other relationship exists between Colorado and the parties to the lawsuit.

The USSA is based, located, in Utah. In this case, the defendant ski area was located in Vermont. There were zero relationships between the USSA in Utah the ski area in Vermont and the injured plaintiff who was from New York, and the state of Colorado.

Consequently, the court throughout the jurisdiction and venue clause and found as 99% of most courts would that the location of the lawsuit should be Vermont, the place where the accident happened.

Vermont, however, does not recognize releases. (See States that do not Support the Use of a Release.).

The plaintiff argued the release was invalid because a copy with his signature could not be produced. The plaintiff signed and agreed to the documentation, including the release when he became a member of the USSA. The plaintiff argued in court that he did not remember signing or agreeing to the release. However, the USSA could  show through their IT expert the only way that the plaintiff could have become a member of the USSA was by signing the release. You either had to click on and accept the release, or you could go no further in signing up to be a member of the USSA.

The plaintiff was injured while competing in amateur downhill ski race at the defendant ski area at Okemo Mountain resort. The USSA sanctioned the race. To be eligible to participate in the race a person had to be a USSA member, had to have conducted a visual inspection of course, and had to have taken at least two official training runs prior to the race.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment based on the release. This ruling denied the motion for summary judgment.

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

The court first commented on the jurisdiction and venue issue.

The release also contained a choice-of-law provision, which stated that it would be “construed in accordance with, and governed by the substantive laws of the State of Colorado, without reference to principles governing choice or conflict of laws.”

The court then went through the various arguments of the plaintiff and defendant concerning the motion to dismiss, first off, with the plaintiff’s argument that he never remembered signing the release could not have signed release. The court termed the online release as a clip wrap release. This means that the release could not have been rejected by the plaintiff because the website only allows you to go forward after clicking yes to the release.

Because the click-wrap technology does not permit the customer to continue to use the website, unless he or she clicks on the required box on the screen, courts have accepted proof of use at the site as evidence of the customer’s agreement.

The court stated that generally clip wrap releases are upheld. The court went through several different decisions where clip-wrap releases had been decided. The court concluded that the plaintiff had to have signed the release because the plaintiff admitted that he had been charged for his USSA membership on his credit card and received an email about his membership from the USSA. “Plaintiff admits that he received a confirmation email from USSA and that his credit card statement reflects a payment for his USSA membership.

The court then went into the choice of law clause. That means the jurisdiction and venue clause. A choice of law clause is not a clause that is controlled strictly by the contract.

Whenever there is a decision based on what law shall apply the law where the accident happened or where the court is sitting is the law that is applied to determine what law will apply. In many cases, such as this one, the choice of law decision leans toward granting the choice of law to the place where the test is being determined.

“The validity of a contractual choice-of-law clause is a threshold question that must be decided not under the law specified in the clause, but under the relevant forum’s choice-of-law rules governing the effectiveness of such clauses.” As this is a diversity action, the court looks to Vermont’s choice-of-law rules to determine which law applies.

A jurisdiction and venue clause is also not solely determined based on the four corners of the document. Meaning, just because you have a jurisdiction and venue clause in the document does not mean that is what is going to be upheld by the court. Here the court applied the choice of laws test as set forth in Vermont to determine what law should apply in governing where the suit in the law to be applied is suit to take place.

Simply put the court found there was no relationship between the choice of law clause in the release and the parties or where the accident occurred. The test for what choice of law applies a substantial relationship test. That means that the law that should be applied should be the one that has the greatest relationship to the parties and or the location of the incident giving rise to the lawsuit. In this case the court found, there was no relationship to the parties of the transaction. Plaintiff was a resident of New York the USSA was a Utah corporation, and the defendant ski area was a defendant was a Vermont location.

The arguments made by the USSA as an aid to justify Colorado’s choice of law clause were just plain weak. They argued that the majority of their races occurred in Colorado and that there was a good chance that the plaintiff would race in Colorado. The court found neither of those arguments to be persuasive.

The chosen state of Colorado has no “substantial relationship” to the parties or the transaction. Plaintiff is a resident of New York. USSA is a Utah corporation and Okemo is a Vermont entity. The incident in question did not occur in Colorado. The only facts Defendants have offered in sup-port of applying Colorado law to this case are: (1) Colorado is home to more USSA member clubs than any other state and hosts the majority of USSA’s major events, and (2) there was a possibility that Plaintiff could have competed in Colorado at some point during the relevant ski season. The court finds that such a tenuous and hypothetical connection does not vest in the state of Colorado a substantial relationship to the parties or specific transaction at issue in this case.

The court did find that Vermont had a substantial and significant interest in the transaction. The defendant was based in Vermont. The accident occurred in Vermont. The plaintiff was issued a lift ticket by the defendant ski area that required all disputes to be litigated in Vermont. The plaintiff participated in the inspection and training runs as well as the race in Vermont.

In contrast, Vermont’s relationship to the parties and transaction is significant. Okemo is a Vermont corporation, the competition was held in Vermont, Plaintiff was issued a lift ticket by Okemo requiring all disputes to be litigated in Vermont, Plaintiff participated in inspection and training runs in Vermont, and Plaintiff’s injury occurred in Vermont.

(Of note is the fact the court looked at the writing on the lift ticket as a quasi-contract. Rarely are lift tickets anything more than simple “signs” providing warnings rather than contracts or quasi contracts. See Lift tickets are not contracts and rarely work as a release in most states.)

The court then took apart the choice of law provision in the USSA release. It found no substantial relationship of the parties to the transaction in Colorado. The minimal facts offered by the USSA to support Colorado did not establish a reasonable basis for choosing Colorado.

The court also reasoned that finding Colorado as the applicable choice of law would violate a fundamental policy of Vermont law, which is releases for skiing or void under Vermont law.

First, applying Colorado law would undoubtedly produce a result contrary to a fundamental policy of Vermont. Whereas exculpatory clauses in ski contracts have been held to be enforceable under Colorado law, courts applying Vermont law consistently hold such re-leases to be void as contrary to important public policies of the state.

The court also found the Vermont had a materially greater interest in case then Colorado. Colorado’s interest in the case is minimal. Vermont had a great interest in applying Vermont law to issues, transactions and accidents that occur in Vermont. Skiing is a significant and important recreational activity in Vermont, and the Vermont Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that they have a significant interest in holding ski resorts responsible for skier safety in Vermont.

Second, Vermont has a “materially greater interest” than Colorado in the determination of this issue.4 Colorado’s interest in this case is minimal. The fact that Plaintiff may have competed there in the course of the relevant ski season and that USSA hosts many events in that state does not create a significant interest in a case concerning a Vermont ski race. Conversely, Vermont’s interest is plain. Vermont has a general interest in having its laws apply to contracts governing transactions taking place within the state. Vermont also has a significant interest in the conduct at issue here. Skiing is an important recreational activity for Vermonters and those visiting the state, and the Vermont Supreme Court has repeatedly noted its interest in holding ski resorts responsible for skier safety.

The court then held the choice of law provision in the USSA release did not control, and the Vermont law would apply to this case.

Under Vermont law releases for skiing activities are unenforceable. (See Federal court voids release in Vermont based on Vermont’s unique view of release law). The Vermont Supreme Court had determined that it was a violation of public policy under Vermont law to allow ski area to use a release to avoid liability for its own negligence. The court used a totality of the circumstances test to make the determination that the ski areas had the greater responsibility and the greater ability to keep its patrons out of harm’s way.

The Court concluded that “ultimately the determination of what constitutes the public interest must be made considering the totality of the circumstances of any given case against the backdrop of current societal expectations.” It then went on to make its public policy determination largely on the basis of two factors derived from the seminal case of Tunkl v. Regents of University of California, 383 P.2d 441 (Cal. 1963): (1) ski areas are open to the general public without regard to special training or ability, and (2) the longstanding rule that premises owners are in the best position to assure for the safety of their visitors.

(Using Tunkl to void a release seems to be an extremely odd reading of Tunkl. The Tunkl decision is a California case setting forth requirements for Assumption of the Risk.)

The court also looked at the difference between skiing in Vermont participating in a ski race. Here too though, the Vermont Supreme Court already ruled. The Vermont Supreme Court found that there was really no difference between ski racing and skiing in Vermont, and the releases would be void in both cases.

There had been Vermont decisions upholding release law based on restricted access to the race or because total control for the majority the control for the welfare of the racers was in the racer’s hands. These decisions concerned motorcycle racing.

The defendant argued that ski racing was much like motorcycle racing in Vermont. However, the court found that although membership in the motorcycle racing was restricted, it was not restricted in the ski racing case. Any person could become a member of the USSA, and any person could race, as long as they inspected the course and made two runs and. That effectively was not a bar to anyone participating in the race.

The Court saw “no salient distinctions between [its case] and making clear that, under Vermont law, ski areas and sport event organizers will not be absolved from liability by virtue of an exculpatory clause even in the context of amateur racing.

The court in evaluating the release law and ski areas in Vermont determined that the cases were based on a premise’s liability argument. Premise’s liability says that the owner of the land has a duty to inform guests of the risks on the land. This responsibility included eliminating any known risks or risk the by the landowner should discover. It did not find in the motorcycle cases that a premise’s liability relationship existed because the risk was largely in control of the racer on the motorcycle.

Consequently, the court ruled that the release was invalid under Vermont law, and dismissed the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

So Now What?

I suspect that USSA wanted to take advantage of the Colorado Statute that allows a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue: Colorado Revised Statutes 13-22-107. Colorado’s release law is clearer and there is no issue with a release stopping suits by ski areas. Utah has mixed issues with releases and ski areas. However, to use Colorado as the site of the lawsuit, there must be a nexus to the state of Colorado, not just one created on paper.

Not only must the language stating the jurisdiction and venue be correct; the clause must also contain the reasoning why the jurisdiction and venue should be in a location other than location where the accident happened. In this case that would mean that there was an agreement between the parties that outlined all the reasons why the lawsuit should be brought back to Utah would be the only state, based on the contractual law of Utah.

I doubt there is any way that you could really write a release based on the law of a state that had no relationship, no nexus, to the accident or the parties in the case.

Vermont was the obvious answer, and that is what the court found. They might’ve been able also argued New York law, which would’ve been better than Vermont law. However, that would require them to litigate a case wherever the people who are racing in their events are located.

To be effective the jurisdiction and venue claw must have a nexus to either the parties in the case of the place of the accident occurred. USSA could move to Colorado, and that would provide a much better argument that Colorado law could apply. The USSA could argue that since they’re facing litigation from across the United States that they need to have one law apply to their releases and lawsuits, and that law should be the law where the located.

Whenever you’re stretching the jurisdiction and venue clause, you need to make sure that you incorporate in the clause all the legal reasons for picking the venue where the clause says the accident or location will occur. You just can’t state venue, and jurisdiction will be here.

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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Author: Outdoor Recreation Insurance, Risk Management and Law

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Copyright 2017 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

Email: Rec-law@recreation-law.com

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Mobile Site: http://m.recreation-law.com

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

#AdventureTourism, #AdventureTravelLaw, #AdventureTravelLawyer, #AttorneyatLaw, #Backpacking, #BicyclingLaw, #Camps, #ChallengeCourse, #ChallengeCourseLaw, #ChallengeCourseLawyer, #CyclingLaw, #FitnessLaw, #FitnessLawyer, #Hiking, #HumanPowered, #HumanPoweredRecreation, #IceClimbing, #JamesHMoss, #JimMoss, #Law, #Mountaineering, #Negligence, #OutdoorLaw, #OutdoorRecreationLaw, #OutsideLaw, #OutsideLawyer, #RecLaw, #Rec-Law, #RecLawBlog, #Rec-LawBlog, #RecLawyer, #RecreationalLawyer, #RecreationLaw, #RecreationLawBlog, #RecreationLawcom, #Recreation-Lawcom, #Recreation-Law.com, #RiskManagement, #RockClimbing, #RockClimbingLawyer, #RopesCourse, #RopesCourseLawyer, #SkiAreas, #Skiing, #SkiLaw, #Snowboarding, #SummerCamp, #Tourism, #TravelLaw, #YouthCamps, #ZipLineLawyer, United States Ski Association, USSA, Okemo, Vermont, Choice of Law, Jurisdiction, Venue, Jurisdiction and Venue, Ski Racing, Amateur Racing, Electronic Click Wrap Agreements, Click Wrap Agreements. Nexus, Legal Relationship,

 

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Kearney, v. Okemo Limited Liability Company, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106011

Kearney, v. Okemo Limited Liability Company, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106011

Read the rest of this entry »


To sue a Vermont ski area, there must be more than a web presence to sue in New York.

Plaintiff injured at Killington ski area tried to sue Killington in New York court because Killington had a website that the New York plaintiff could access online. New York’s long arm statute requires more than a website to bring a foreign defendant to a New York court.

Haffner, et al., v Killington, Ltd., 119 A.D.3d 912; 990 N.Y.S.2d 561; 2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5452; 2014 NY Slip Op 05522

State: New York, Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department

Plaintiff: Claudia Mejia-Haffner and her husband, Steven R. Haffner

Defendant: Killington, Ltd.

Plaintiff Claims:

Defendant Defenses: The court had no personal jurisdiction over it.

Holding: For the defendant

Year: 2014

The plaintiff was a resident of New York. The defendant is a ski area in Vermont. The plaintiff signed up for a ski race camp at the defendant’s ski area online through a third party American Ski Racing Association. The ski race camp was taught at Killington by Killington employees.

During the camp the plaintiff was instructed to try turning with her boots unbuckled. She did, falling and injuring herself. She and her husband sued Killington in a New York court. The trial court dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendant Killington.

The plaintiff’s appealed.

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

The court first reviewed the requirements of the New York Long Arm Statute and what is required to bring a foreign, non-New York, defendant into a New York courtroom.

A foreign corporation is amenable to suit in New York courts under CPLR 301 if it has engaged in such a continuous and systematic course of doing business’ here that a finding of its presence’ in this jurisdiction is warranted” Mere solicitation of business within New York will not subject a defendant to New York’s jurisdiction Instead, a plaintiff asserting jurisdiction under CPLR 301 must satisfy the standard of “solicitation plus,” which requires a showing of ” activities of substance in addition to solicitation'” (

A long-arm statute is the law that outlines under that state’s law the amount of presence a foreign defendant must have and how a foreign defendant can be brought into the state and sued.

Advertising alone is not enough to establish jurisdiction in New York. The foreign defendant must engage in substantial activity within the state.

…the section of New York’s long-arm statute at issue in this case, grants New York courts jurisdiction over nondomiciliaries when the action arises out of the nondomiciliaries’ “transact[ion of] any business within the state or contract [] . . . to supply goods or services in the state”

For substantial activity to occur, the acts within the state must be purposeful.

Purposeful activities are those with which a defendant, through volitional acts, avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws

Obviously purposeful will have a different definition and result for a manufacturer than for an outfitter. That means a manufacturer knows its products will be in the state, versus an outfitter who will be guiding its guests someplace out of state. Knowing your product will be sold inside the state increases the amount of activity according to the courts.

Based on the allegations in the complaint and the statements in the injured plaintiff’s affidavit, there is no substantial relationship between Killington’s maintenance of a website through which a person in New York could purchase services and the alleged tort that occurred. Such allegations are “too remote from [Killington’s] alleged sales and promotional activities to support long-arm jurisdiction under CPLR 302(a)(1)”

The court affirmed the trial court decision and dismissed Killington from the case.

So Now What?

Jurisdiction, whether a court has the ability to bring a defendant in front of it so that its orders are binding on the defendant varies by state. Therefore, you need to understand what states you may be brought into court in and how. In New York, this decision indicates it is not as easy as in other states.

If the plaintiff’s wants to sue Killington, they will have to go and sue in Vermont. That places a substantial burden on the plaintiff to find an attorney in Vermont and to finance litigation in Vermont. Jurisdiction can be a very effective defense against a lawsuit.

Here Killington did not do enough to be brought into a New York court.

What was not brought into the case was whether the plaintiff’s had signed a release? However, Vermont has been anti release with the ski industry so a release may have limited value.  Maybe only of value for use in an out of the state court.

Other Articles on Jurisdiction

A Recent Colorado Supreme Court Decision lowers the requirements to be brought into the state to defend a lawsuit.                                                                                                     http://rec-law.us/zfpK8Z

Buy something online and you may not have any recourse if it breaks or you are hurt    http://rec-law.us/1rOEUQP

Four releases signed and all of them thrown out because they lacked one simple sentence!     http://rec-law.us/vZoa7x

Jurisdiction and Venue (Forum Selection clauses) are extremely important in your releases.    http://rec-law.us/1ggLMWR

Jurisdiction in Massachusetts allows a plaintiff to bring in Salomon France to the local court.   http://rec-law.us/zdE1uk

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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

Copyright 2015 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

Email: Rec-law@recreation-law.com

Google+: +Recreation

Twitter: RecreationLaw

Facebook: Rec.Law.Now

Facebook Page: Outdoor Recreation & Adventure Travel Law

Blog: www.recreation-law.com

Mobile Site: http://m.recreation-law.com

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

#AdventureTourism, #AdventureTravelLaw, #AdventureTravelLawyer, #AttorneyatLaw, #Backpacking, #BicyclingLaw, #Camps, #ChallengeCourse, #ChallengeCourseLaw, #ChallengeCourseLawyer, #CyclingLaw, #FitnessLaw, #FitnessLawyer, #Hiking, #HumanPowered, #HumanPoweredRecreation, #IceClimbing, #JamesHMoss, #JimMoss, #Law, #Mountaineering, #Negligence, #OutdoorLaw, #OutdoorRecreationLaw, #OutsideLaw, #OutsideLawyer, #RecLaw, #Rec-Law, #RecLawBlog, #Rec-LawBlog, #RecLawyer, #RecreationalLawyer, #RecreationLaw, #RecreationLawBlog, #RecreationLawcom, #Recreation-Lawcom, #Recreation-Law.com, #RiskManagement, #RockClimbing, #RockClimbingLawyer, #RopesCourse, #RopesCourseLawyer, #SkiAreas, #Skiing, #SkiLaw, #Snowboarding, #SummerCamp, #Tourism, #TravelLaw, #YouthCamps, #ZipLineLawyer, Ski Area, Killington Ltd., Killington, Ski Racing, Race Camp, Jurisdiction, New York, Vermont,

 


Haffner, et al., v Killington, Ltd., 119 A.D.3d 912; 990 N.Y.S.2d 561; 2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5452; 2014 NY Slip Op 05522

Haffner, et al., v Killington, Ltd., 119 A.D.3d 912; 990 N.Y.S.2d 561; 2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5452; 2014 NY Slip Op 05522

Claudia Mejia-Haffner, et al., appellants, v Killington, Ltd., respondent, et al., defendants. (Index No. 30370/10)

2012-02569

SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, APPELLATE DIVISION, SECOND DEPARTMENT

119 A.D.3d 912; 990 N.Y.S.2d 561; 2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5452; 2014 NY Slip Op 05522

July 30, 2014, Decided

COUNSEL: [***1] Gordon & Haffner, LLP, Bayside, N.Y. (Steven R. Haffner, Pro se, of counsel), for appellants.

Ryan Smith & Carbine, P.C., Glens Falls, N.Y. (Mark F. Werle of counsel), for respondent.

JUDGES: MARK C. DILLON, J.P., THOMAS A. DICKERSON, LEONARD B. AUSTIN, SANDRA L. SGROI, JJ. DILLON, J.P., DICKERSON, AUSTIN and SGROI, JJ., concur.

OPINION

[**562] [*912] DECISION & ORDER

In an action, inter alia, to recover damages for personal injuries, etc., the plaintiffs appeal from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Grays, J.), dated December 19, 2011, which granted the motion of the defendant Killington, Ltd., for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against it.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed, with costs.

The plaintiff Claudia Mejia-Haffner and her husband, the plaintiff Steven R. Haffner, enrolled in a ski racing instructional camp operated by Killington/Pico Ski Resort Partners, LLC, sued herein as Killington, Ltd. (hereinafter Killington), at Killington’s ski resort in Vermont. The plaintiffs made their reservations through the American Ski Racing Association. While participating in the camp, Mejia-Haffner (hereinafter the injured plaintiff) was injured, and the plaintiffs commenced this action [***2] against, among others, Killington.

Killington moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against it on the ground, inter alia, that it was not subject to personal jurisdiction in New York. The Supreme Court granted Killington’s motion for summary judgment finding, among other things, that New York did not have jurisdiction over Killington.

[**563] [HN1] “A foreign corporation is amenable to suit in New York courts under CPLR 301 if it has engaged in such a continuous and systematic course of doing business’ here that a finding of its presence’ in this jurisdiction is warranted” (Landoil Resources Corp. v Alexander & Alexander Servs., 77 NY2d 28, 33, 565 N.E.2d 488, 563 N.Y.S.2d 739, quoting Laufer v Ostrow, 55 NY2d 305, 309-310, 434 N.E.2d 692, 449 N.Y.S.2d 456; see [*913] Cardone v Jiminy Peak, 245 AD2d 1002, 1003, 667 N.Y.S.2d 82; Sedig v Okemo Mtn., 204 AD2d 709, 710, 612 N.Y.S.2d 643). [HN2] Mere solicitation of business within New York will not subject a defendant to New York’s jurisdiction (see Cardone v Jiminy Peak, 245 AD2d at 1003; Sedig v Okemo Mtn., 204 AD2d at 710). Instead, a plaintiff asserting jurisdiction under CPLR 301 must satisfy the standard of “solicitation plus,” which requires a showing of ” activities of substance in addition to solicitation'” (Arroyo v Mountain School, 68 AD3d 603, 604, 892 N.Y.S.2d 74, quoting Laufer v Ostrow, 55 NY2d at 310; see Cardone v Jiminy Peak, 245 AD2d at 1003; Sedig v Okemo Mtn., 204 AD2d at 710).

Even assuming that Killington engaged in substantial advertising in New York, as the plaintiffs claim, the plaintiffs have not demonstrated that Killington also engaged in substantial activity within this State sufficient to satisfy the solicitation-plus standard. Contrary [***3] to the plaintiffs’ contention, this Court’s decision in Grimaldi v Guinn (72 AD3d 37, 49-50, 895 N.Y.S.2d 156) does not stand for the principle that a business’s interactive website, accessible in New York, subjects it to suit in this State for all purposes. Instead, the Grimaldi decision stands only for the more limited principle that [HN3] a website may support specific jurisdiction in New York where the claim asserted has some relationship to the business transacted via the website (see id.; see also Paterno v Laser Spine Inst., 112 AD3d 34, 973 N.Y.S.2d 681). Here, even Killington’s alleged substantial solicitation in New York constitutes no more than solicitation (see Cardone v Jiminy Peak, 245 AD2d at 1004; see also Arroyo v Mountain School, 68 AD3d at 603-604; Sedig v Okemo Mtn., 204 AD2d at 710; Chamberlain v Jiminy Peak, 155 AD2d 768, 547 N.Y.S.2d 706).

[HN4] CPLR 302(a)(1), the section of New York’s long-arm statute at issue in this case, grants New York courts jurisdiction over nondomiciliaries when the action arises out of the nondomiciliaries’ “transact[ion of] any business within the state or contract [] . . . to supply goods or services in the state” (CPLR 302[a][1]). [HN5] Pursuant to CPLR 302(a)(1), jurisdiction is proper “even though the defendant never enters New York, so long as the defendant’s activities here were purposeful and there is a substantial relationship between the transaction and the claim asserted” (Fischbarg v Doucet, 9 NY3d 375, 380, 880 N.E.2d 22, 849 N.Y.S.2d 501 [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]; see Deutsche Bank Sec., Inc. v Montana Bd. of Invs., 7 NY3d 65, 71, 850 N.E.2d 1140, 818 N.Y.S.2d 164; Kreutter v McFadden Oil Corp., 71 NY2d 460, 467, 522 N.E.2d 40, 527 N.Y.S.2d 195; Muse Collections, Inc. v Carissima Bijoux, Inc., 86 AD3d 631, 927 N.Y.S.2d 389). “Purposeful activities are those [***4] with which a defendant, through volitional acts, avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within [*914] the forum State, thus invoking the benefits and protections of its laws'” (Fischbarg v Doucet, 9 NY3d at 380, [**564] quoting McKee Elec. Co. v Rauland-Borg Corp., 20 NY2d 377, 382, 229 N.E.2d 604, 283 N.Y.S.2d 34; see Grimaldi v Guinn, 72 AD3d at 44; Sedig v Okemo Mtn., 204 AD2d at 710).

[HN6] Although a plaintiff is not required to plead and prove personal jurisdiction in the complaint (see Fischbarg v Doucet, 9 NY3d at 381 n 5; Halas v Dick’s Sporting Goods, 105 AD3d 1411, 964 N.Y.S.2d 808; Cadle Co. v Ayala, 47 AD3d 919, 920, 850 N.Y.S.2d 563; Ying Jun Chen v Lei Shi, 19 AD3d 407, 407-408, 796 N.Y.S.2d 126), where jurisdiction is contested, the ultimate burden of proof rests upon the plaintiff (see Halas v Dick’s Sporting Goods, 105 AD3d at 1411; Arroyo v Mountain School, 68 AD3d at 604; Shore Pharm. Providers, Inc. v Oakwood Care Ctr., Inc., 65 AD3d 623, 624, 885 N.Y.S.2d 88; Stardust Dance Prods., Ltd. v Cruise Groups Intl., Inc., 63 AD3d 1262, 1264, 881 N.Y.S.2d 192; Ying Jun Chen v Lei Shi, 19 AD3d at 407; Armouth Intl. v Haband Co., 277 AD2d 189, 190, 715 N.Y.S.2d 438).

Here, the plaintiffs alleged that Killington’s negligence stemmed from the injured plaintiff being injured after having been instructed by ski instructors to unbuckle her ski boots as part of a training exercise so that when she fell, her ski bindings failed to release. They also alleged that Killington was negligent due to the instructors’ failure to warn her of the dangers of such activity. Further, the injured plaintiff submitted an affidavit, in opposition to Killington’s motion, stating that her injury occurred when another skier ran over the tails of her skis, causing her to fall and her bindings to fail to release, since she had been skiing with her boots unbuckled as instructed and that she was unaware that skiing with her boots unbuckled would disable the ski bindings [***5] until she was informed of this information by the ski patrol. Based on the allegations in the complaint and the statements in the injured plaintiff’s affidavit, there is no substantial relationship between Killington’s maintenance of a website through which a person in New York could purchase services and the alleged tort that occurred. Such allegations are “too remote from [Killington’s] alleged sales and promotional activities to support long-arm jurisdiction under CPLR 302(a)(1)” (Sedig v Okemo Mtn., 204 AD2d at 710-711; see Meunier v Stebo, Inc., 38 AD2d 590, 591, 328 N.Y.S.2d 608). Thus, Killington is not subject to long-arm jurisdiction under CPLR 302(a)(1).

The plaintiffs’ contention that the complaint contains a breach of contract cause of action relating to their purchase of reservations in New York is improperly raised for the first time on appeal, and therefore is not properly before this Court.

[*915] Furthermore, contrary to their contention, the plaintiffs have not made ” a sufficient start'” to warrant holding the motion in abeyance while discovery is conducted on the issue of jurisdiction (Shore Pharm. Providers, Inc. v Oakwood Care Ctr., Inc., 65 AD3d at 624, quoting Peterson v Spartan Indus., 33 NY2d 463, 467, 310 N.E.2d 513, 354 N.Y.S.2d 905; see Amigo Foods Corp. v Marine Midland Bank-N.Y., 39 NY2d 391, 395, 348 N.E.2d 581, 384 N.Y.S.2d 124; Stardust Dance Prods., Ltd. v Cruise Groups Intl., Inc., 63 AD3d at 1265; Ying Jun Chen v Lei Shi, 19 AD3d at 408). The plaintiffs have not alleged facts which would support personal jurisdiction under either CPLR 301 or under CPLR 302(a)(1), and thus have failed to indicate how further discovery might lead to evidence showing [***6] that [**565] personal jurisdiction exists here (see Lang v Wycoff Hgts. Med. Ctr., 55 AD3d 793, 794, 866 N.Y.S.2d 313).

In light of the foregoing, we need not reach the parties’ remaining contentions.

DILLON, J.P., DICKERSON, AUSTIN and SGROI, JJ., concur.


Utah courts like giving money to injured kids. This decision does clarify somewhat murky prior decisions about the defenses provided to a ski area in Utah: there are none.

A minor was hurt during ski racing practice by hitting a mound of machine-made snow. The Utah Skier Safety Act is weak and Utah Supreme Court interpretations of the act do nothing but weaken it more. This act clarified those weaknesses and what a Utah ski area can do to protect itself from lawsuits, which is not much really. This court, not finding the act weak enough, agreed with the Utah Supreme Court and eliminated releases as a defense for ski areas in the state of Utah.

Rutherford v. Talisker Canyons Finance Co., LLC, 2014 UT App 190; 767 Utah Adv. Rep. 41; 2014 Utah App. LEXIS 201

State: Utah

Plaintiff: Philip Rutherford and Wendy Rutherford, on Behalf of Their Minor Child, Levi Rutherford

Defendant: Talisker Canyons Finance Co., LLC and ASC UTAH, LLC (The Canyons Ski Area) and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association

Plaintiff Claims: the machine that produced the snow mound was not functioning properly, that the Ski Resort could have warned patrons of the hazard by marking the mound or closing the trail, and that the Ski Resort did not adequately monitor the snowmaking taking place on the Retreat run that day

Defendant Defenses: release, Utah Ski Act,

Holding: For the Plaintiff

Year: 2014

Utah famously does not award money for adults who are injured; however, if a minor is injured, as a defendant, be prepared to write a big check. For such a conservative state, the judgments for a minor’s injuries can be massive. In this case, the trial court bent over backwards to allow a case by a minor to proceed even with numerous valid defenses. In all but one case, the appellate court agreed with the plaintiffs.

The minor was going to a race practice. He skied down the hill without changing his position and not turning. He hit a mound of man-made snow and was hurt. His parents sued.

The plaintiff’s sued the resort, Canyons which was identified in the case citation by two different names. The plaintiff also sued the US Ski and Snowboard Association, which were not part of the appeal, but mentioned frequently.

The defendants filed an interlocutory appeal after all of their motions of summary judgment were denied. An Interlocutory appeal is one that is made to a higher court before the lower court has issued a final ruling. The appeal is based on intermediary rulings of the trial court. The appeal can only be heard upon a limited set of rules, which are set out by each of the courts. Interlocutory appeals are rare, normally, when the decision of the lower court will force a new trial because of the rulings if the case goes to trial.

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

The first issue is the application of the Utah’s Inherent Risks of Skiing Act to the case. The trial court ruled the plaintiff was not a competitor as defined by the act. Like many state ski acts the act; a competitor assumes greater risks, and the ski area owes fewer duties to competitors. The trial court based this decision on its review of the facts and determined:

…skiing on an open run that any member of the public could ski on” and that his accident indisputably did not occur during a ski race, while skiing through gates, or while otherwise “negotiating for training purposes something that had been specifically designated as a race course

However, the plaintiffs in their motions and pleadings as well as the plaintiff’s expert witness report stated the minor plaintiff was engaged in race training and practice. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision on this. However, instead of holding the plaintiff was a competitor and assumed more risk; the appellate court required the trial court to determine if plaintiff’s “engagement in race training at the time of his injury is truly undisputed by the parties.”

The next issue was whether the phrase machine-made snow in the act was an inherent risk or an exemption from the risks assumed. The plaintiff’s argued the snow machine was malfunctioning and because of that the resort was negligent. The statute states:

§ 78B-4-402.  Definitions

    (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;

The appellate court agreed with the trial court because the supreme court of Utah had found the Utah act:

…does not purport to grant ski area operators complete immunity from all negligence claims initiated by skiers” but protects ski-area operators “from suits to recover for injuries caused by one or more of the dangers listed [in the Act] only to the extent those dangers, under the facts of each case, are integral aspects of the sport of skiing.

This interpretation of the act is the exact opposite of how statutes are normally interpreted and how all other courts have interpreted other state skier safety acts. Instead of providing protection, the act simply lists items the act may protect from litigation. The act is to be interpreted every time by the trial court to determine if the risk encountered by the skier in Utah was something the act my say the skier assumed.

This means most injuries will receive some money from the ski area. The injured skier can sue and the resort and its insurance company will settle for a nominal amount rather than pay the cost of going to trial to prove the injury was something that was an inherent risk as defined by the Utah’s Inherent Risks of Skiing Act.

The court as part of this analysis then looked at the phrase “inherent risk.”

The term ‘inherent risk of skiing,’ using the ordinary and accepted meaning of the term ‘inherent,’ refers to those risks that are essential characteristics of skiing–risks that are so integrally related to skiing that the sport cannot be undertaken without confronting these risks.

This is a normal definition applied to inherent risk. However, the court then went on and quoted the Utah Supreme court as stating.

The court divided these risks into two categories, the first of which represents “those risks, such as steep grades, powder, and mogul runs, which skiers wish to confront as an essential characteristic of skiing.” Under the Act, “a ski area operator is under no duty to make all of its runs as safe as possible by eliminating the type of dangers that skiers wish to confront as an integral part of skiing.”

The second category of risks consists of those hazards which no one wishes to confront but cannot be alleviated by the use of reasonable care on the part of a ski resort,” such as weather and snow conditions that may “suddenly change and, without warning, create new hazards where no hazard previously existed. For this category of risks, “[t]he only duty ski area operators have . . . is the requirement set out in [the Act] that they warn their patrons, in the manner prescribed in the statute, of the general dangers patrons must confront when participating in the sport of skiing.

Then the interpretation of the Supreme Court decision goes off the chart.

However, this does not exonerate a ski-area operator from any “duty to use ordinary care to protect its patrons”; “if an injury was caused by an unnecessary hazard that could have been eliminated by the use of ordinary care, such a hazard is not, in the ordinary sense of the term, an inherent risk of skiing and would fall outside of [the Act].”

Instead of the act providing protection from a list of risks that are part and parcel of skiing, the act in Utah only provides of hazards that if not eliminated will still allow litigation. That is any injury is worth filing suit over because the cost of defending the case will exceed the cost of settling.

How does this apply in this case? The act refers to machine made snow. The complaint states the plaintiff was injured because the snow making machine was not functioning properly. There was no allegation that the snow was at issue, which is protected by the act, just the machine that makes the snow. However, this was enough for the trial court and the appellate court to say the act did not provide immunity for the ski area.

That is the defense of the tree on the side of the road scared me, so I opened the passenger-side door and knocked down the pedestrian. If the snow making machine was malfunctioning, unless it is making “bad” snow that has nothing to do with hitting a mound of snow.

The next issue is the defense of release. This part of the decision actually makes sense.

The US Ski and Snowboard Association has members sign releases. The majority of racing members of the USSA are minors, hoping to become major racers for the US. The USSA is based in Park City, Utah. Utah has always held that a parent cannot sign away a minor’s right to sue. So the USSA made its choice of law provision Colorado in an attempt to take advantage of Colorado’s laws on releases and minors and releases. (See States that allow a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue.)

However, courts won’t and this court did not, let you get away with such a stretch. The venue and jurisdiction clause in a release must have a basis with where the defendant is located, where the activity (and as such accident) happens or where the plaintiff lives. Here the USSA is based in Park City Utah, the plaintiff lives in Utah and the accident happened in Utah; the Utah trial court and Appellate court properly held the jurisdiction and venue clause in the release was not valid.

On top of that, you need to justify why you are using a foreign state for venue and jurisdiction, in the jurisdiction and venue clause in the release. You need to state with a reasonable degree of plausibility why you are putting the venue in a certain place if it is not the location where the parties are located or the accident occurred. State in the release that in order to control litigation, the jurisdiction and venue of any action will be in the state where the defendant is located.

The release was thrown out before getting to whether a parent can sign away a minor’s right to sue, which the Utah Supreme Court has never upheld. (See States that allow a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue.) However, the appellate court reviewed this issue and also threw the release out because Utah does not allow a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue. (The Utah Equine and Livestock Activities Act has been amended to allow a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue for Equine injuries.)

The court then looked at what releases are viable in the ski industry in Utah. In 90 days, the Utah Supreme Court voided a release in a ski case and then upheld a release in a ski case. (See Utah Supreme Court Reverses long position on releases in a very short period of time.) This court stated the differences where a release is void under Utah’s law for recreational skiers. “Our supreme court has interpreted this public policy statement as prohibiting pre-injury releases of liability for negligence obtained by ski-area operators from recreational skiers.”

The public policy statement is the preamble of the Utah’s Inherent Risks of Skiing Act.

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.

Simply put this is an analysis of the action of the legislature, by the court, to say, the legislature gave you this, so we, the court, are going to take away releases.

In other words, the Act prohibits pre-injury releases of liability for negligence entirely, regardless of the age of the skier who signed the release or whether the release was signed by a parent on behalf of a child.

The court explained that the Act was designed to strike a “bargain” with ski-area operators by freeing them “from liability for inherent risks of skiing so that they could continue to shoulder responsibility for noninherent risks by purchasing insurance.

The court then looked at whether this release could be applied if the plaintiff was a competitive skier? (Yeah, confusing to me also.)

Following that confusing analysis this court then determined the release by a competitive skier was also invalid, contrary to what the Supreme Court had decided in Berry v. Greater Park City Co., 2007 UT 87, ¶ 17, 171 P.3d 442. However, the court rationalized the analysis by saying the amendment to the ski act, which occurred before the Berry decision, but after the accident giving rise to Berry, made a competitive skier the same as a recreational skier for the purposes of the act therefore no releases were valid in Utah for skiing.

Here is the conclusion of the case.

The trial court’s determination that Levi was not engaged in race training at the time of his injury, especially in the face of the fact, apparently undisputed by the parties, that he was injured during racing practice, was improper in the context of the Ski Resort’s motions for summary judgment. The trial court correctly denied the Ski Resort’s joinder in the Ski Team’s motion for summary judgment based on the Act and correctly granted the Rutherfords’ related partial motion for summary judgment, based on the court’s determination that there were disputed issues of material fact regarding the applicability of the machine-made snow exemption. We affirm the trial court’s denial of the Ski Resort’s motion for summary judgment based on the USSA release and the court’s determination that the Colorado choice-of-law provision in the USSA release is inapplicable here. We agree with the trial court that the release, as it pertains to the Ski Resort, is unenforceable under Utah law, but base this conclusion on different grounds than the trial court.

It almost reads like it is a normal case. The court sent the issue back to the lower court, basically handing the plaintiff the decision. The only thing left to do is determine the amount.

So Now What?

It’s a kid thing in Utah. Kids get hurt the courts’ hand out money. Even the ski industry is not big enough, or organized enough, to do anything about it.

I don’t know of any other reason why this decision would come out this way.

This decision which eliminates releases as a defense for the ski area may trickle down to other recreational activities. Let’s hope not.

So we know the following about Utah and ski areas.

1.       Releases are not a valid defense unless you are racing, actually on the course for a race or practice.

2.      A competitor under the Utah’s Inherent Risks of Skiing Act is only a competitor when racing or running gates.

3.      The Utah’s Inherent Risks of Skiing Act only sets out the defenses available to a ski area if they ski area was not negligent and could not have prevented the accident or risk which caused the accident.

4.      Minor’s in Utah always win.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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

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It’s that time of year, release stops lawsuit against ski club

Logo of Indianhead Mountain

Masciola, v. Chicago Metropolitan Ski Council, 257 Ill. App. 3d 313; 628 N.E.2d 1067; 1993 Ill. App. LEXIS 2011; 195 Ill. Dec. 603

Illinois‘s decision holds that the release in question covered the issue complained of by the plaintiff who caused his injuries.

The plaintiff in this case was a member of the Chicago Metropolitan Ski Council, a ski club. The plaintiff entered a race put on by the defendant ski council at Indianhead Mountain, Michigan. To enter the race the plaintiff had to sign a release.

While racing the plaintiff hit a compression area in the race course which caused him to be thrown into telephone poles that marked the finish line. The plaintiff’s injuries were never specified in the decision.

The plaintiff alleged the unsafe conditions of the race course were not contemplated by the release, and the parties were acting under a mutual mistake of fact.

Summary of the case

English: Near the top of the PomaLift at India...

A mutual mistake of fact is usually a way to void a contract. Remember a contract, which a release is, requires a meeting of the minds. Normally, with a release, you write the release so the meeting of the minds is agreed to when the guest signs the agreement.

If the parties do not agree on the specific issues of a contract, the reasons for a contract, then a contract is void. An example would be party A wants to sell his beat up second car. Party A tells party B that his car is for sale. Party B has never seen the second car and assumes party A is selling his good car; the only one party B, thinks party A, owns.

The contract between party A and party B would be void because of mistake of fact. Party A and Party B never had a meeting of the minds on what was being bought/sold so there was no contract.

Under Illinois’s law, like in most states, releases are disfavored, but upheld if there is no fraud, willful and wanton conduct [on the part of the defendant] or legislation prohibiting releases. If those requirements are met the court next looks at the position of the parties to make sure there is no disparity in the bargaining power between the parties. Here because skiing and ski racing is recreational and the plaintiff did not have to race, there was no disparity.

The next requirement is different.

…the question of whether or not an exculpatory clause will be enforced depends upon whether or not defendant’s conduct and the risk of injury inherent in said conduct was of a type intended by the parties to fall within the scope of the clause.

The risk which caused the injury must not be set out specifically in the release; the release must just show that the risk was contemplated by the parties to the release. The court found the release covered the problems the plaintiff claimed injured him.

So Now What?

English: The base of the Nastar course at Indi...

Simply put make sure your release has a broad description of the risk intended to be covered by the release. First start with the life-changing  events, death, quadriplegia, and work your way done to those things that although not of high severity do occur with high frequency.

If you do keep accident reports (see Why accident reports can come back to haunt you.) go through the reports to identify the risks that should be in your release. Always include the loss of property. Dropped phones while riding a ski lift and lost sunglasses whitewater rafting are probably the number one issue that irritates guests. Cover those issues, other minor issues and major problems in your release.

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Masciola, v. Chicago Metropolitan Ski Council, 257 Ill. App. 3d 313; 628 N.E.2d 1067; 1993 Ill. App. LEXIS 2011; 195 Ill. Dec. 603

Masciola, v. Chicago Metropolitan Ski Council, 257 Ill. App. 3d 313; 628 N.E.2d 1067; 1993 Ill. App. LEXIS 2011; 195 Ill. Dec. 603

David R. Masciola, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Chicago Metropolitan Ski Council, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 1-91-3909

APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

257 Ill. App. 3d 313; 628 N.E.2d 1067; 1993 Ill. App. LEXIS 2011; 195 Ill. Dec. 603

December 29, 1993, Decided

SUBSEQUENT HISTORY: [***1] Released for Publication March 9, 1994. As Corrected August 2, 1994.

PRIOR HISTORY: APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE PADDY H. McNAMARA, JUDGE PRESIDING.

DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED.

COUNSEL: John Thomas Moran, Jr., of Chicago, for appellant.

Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered, of Chicago (Edward H. Nielsen, Robert Marc Chemers, and Ann S. Johnson, of counsel), for appellee.

JUDGES: RIZZI, TULLY, CERDA

OPINION BY: RIZZI

OPINION

[*314] [**1068] JUSTICE RIZZI delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, David R. Masciola, filed a complaint against defendant, the Chicago Metropolitan Ski Council (Ski Council) and others. Plaintiff sought damages for personal injuries allegedly sustained by him while he was participating in a ski race sponsored by defendant. Counts I and II of the complaint alleged negligence and willful and wanton conduct, respectively. The trial court dismissed [**1069] count II of the complaint and granted summary judgment to defendant on count I. Plaintiff appeals the trial court’s award of summary judgment. We affirm.

Plaintiff alleges that trial court’s grant of summary judgment was erroneous (1) with respect to both counts of the complaint, on the basis of its finding that an exculpatory clause was enforceable and barred to the complaint, because the unsafe conditions of the racecourse [***2] exceeded the scope of the contemplated risks encompassed by the exculpatory clause which demonstrates that the parties were acting under a mutual mistake of material fact as to the safety of the racecourse; and (2) with respect to count II of the complaint because exculpatory clauses are void and against public policy when applied to willful and wanton conduct.

On December 21, 1985, plaintiff participated in a ski race sponsored by defendant at the ski resort of Indianhead Mountain in Wakefield, Gogebic County, Michigan. As a sponsor of the race, defendant required each participant to sign a “waiver of liability” prior to participating in the race. Plaintiff signed the waiver. The waiver form provided as follows:

The undersigned hereby acknowledges that ski racing is a dangerous sport which can lead to serious injury, or even death. The undersigned hereby understands and agrees to personally assume any and all of the liability and risks of alpine racing.

Further, the undersigned hereby agrees to hold harmless the CHICAGO METROPOLITAN SKI COUNCIL, its officers and the Senior Alpine Racing Committee from any responsibility or liability for any and all personal injuries or death which [***3] may occur during the 1985-86 CMSC Racing Series.

On March 16, 1988, plaintiff filed a 10-count complaint against Ski Council and other defendants who are no longer a part of this action, for damages for personal injuries sustained while participating in the ski race sponsored by defendant. Plaintiff alleged that his injuries are the result of a fall from a compression area in the ski racecourse which caused him to be thrown into the poles marking the finish line. Counts I and II of the complaint alleged negligence and willful and wanton conduct respectively, on the part of defendant.

[*315] Defendant filed a motion to dismiss count II of plaintiff’s complaint on the basis that he failed to comply with section 2-604.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code). Ill Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 2-604.1. On May 19, 1988, the court entered an order granting defendant’s motion to dismiss count II without prejudice. Count II was dismissed on the ground that willful and wanton misconduct constitutes negligence for purposes of claiming punitive damages and a hearing was necessary under section 2-604.1 and absent a hearing, dismissal was required.

Defendant then filed a motion for summary judgment [***4] with respect to count I. Plaintiff in his complaint alleged that defendant owed him a duty of reasonable care in supervising, inspecting, setting up and maintaining the racecourse and its attendant markers, gates and poles. In its motion, defendant argued, and the trial court agreed, that the release form signed by plaintiff barred plaintiff’s action. The motion was granted pursuant to an order entered on April 25, 1991. Plaintiff now appeals the grant of summary judgment.

First, plaintiff contends that trial court’s grant of summary judgment was erroneous (1) with respect to both counts of the complaint against defendant on the basis of its finding that an exculpatory clause was enforceable and therefore barred to the complaint, because the unsafe conditions of the racecourse exceeded the scope of the contemplated risks encompassed by the exculpatory clause which demonstrates that the parties were acting under a mutual mistake of material fact as to the implicit material term of their agreement, which was that the racecourse was presumptively safe; and (2) that the judgment was erroneous with respect to count II of the complaint alleging willful and wanton misconduct on the part [***5] of defendant because exculpatory clauses are void and against public policy when applied to willful and wanton conduct.

In addition to arguing that the trial court erred in granting defendant summary judgment [**1070] as to count I of the complaint, plaintiff now argues for the first time that the grant of summary judgment as to count II of his complaint was improper in that it alleged willful and wanton misconduct. The record shows that pursuant to an order entered on May 19, 1988, count II of plaintiff’s complaint alleging willful and wanton misconduct was dismissed for failure to comply with section 2-604.1 of the Code.

[HN1] Section 2-604.1 of the Code provides that no complaint based upon bodily injury shall contain a prayer for punitive damages. The section further provides that a plaintiff may move for a pretrial hearing thereby seeking leave to amend the complaint to include a prayer for punitive damages within 30 days after the close of discovery. Ill Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 2-604.1.

[*316] In the present case, the order dismissing count II of plaintiff’s complaint was without prejudice, therefore, plaintiff could have sought leave to amend the complaint to include the prayer for punitive [***6] damages. Plaintiff, however, failed to do so. At no point during the trial court proceeding did plaintiff argue that a grant of summary judgment would be improper in light of the complaint alleging willful and wanton misconduct.

Furthermore, in support of his allegation that the trial court’s grant of summary judgment was erroneous with respect to count II, plaintiff now asks us to review the deposition testimony of himself and Ardwell Kidwell as well as the International Ski Competition Rules. Each of these deposition transcripts are attached to plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of the summary judgment order, but neither of the transcripts was before the trial court when it initially ruled on the summary judgment. At the hearing on the motion for reconsideration of summary judgment, the trial court refused to consider these items on the basis that they were not properly before the court.

[HN2] The scope of an appellate court’s review of a grant of summary judgment is limited to the matters considered by the trial court in ruling on the motion for summary judgment. Certified Mechanical Contractors, Inc. v. Wight & Co., Inc. (1987), 162 Ill. App. 3d 391, 397, 515 N.E.2d 1047, 1051. [***7] Upon review of a summary judgment ruling, an appellate court may only refer to the record as it existed at the time the trial court ruled, outline the arguments made at that time and explain why the trial court erred in granting summary judgment. Rayner Covering Systems, Inc. v. Danvers Farmers Elevator Co. (1992), 226 Ill. App. 3d 507, 509-10, 589 N.E.2d 1034, 1036.

In the present case, the allegations in count II were not before the trial court at the time of its ruling upon defendant’s motion for summary judgment because count II had been dismissed and thus they may not be considered by this court.

We will, however, address plaintiff’s allegation that the trial court’s grant of summary judgment was erroneous with respect to count I of the complaint. Plaintiff argues that the exculpatory clause was not enforceable because the existence of compression bumps at the end of a racecourse and the use of telephone poles as a finish line marker are not within the scope of possible dangers accompanying an alpine ski race. Plaintiff further contends that defendant was not entitled to summary judgment because the parties were acting under a mutual [***8] mistake of material fact as to whether the racecourse was “safe” because the definition of “safe” arguably did not include compression bumps on the course and telephone poles as finish line markers.

[*317] [HN3] Although exculpatory agreements are not favored and will be strictly construed against the benefitting party ( Scott & Fetzer Co. v. Montgomery Ward & Co. (1986), 112 Ill. 2d 378, 395, 493 N.E.2d 1022, 1029), parties may allocate the risk of negligence as they see fit and exculpatory clauses are not violative of public policy as a matter of law. Reuben H. Donnelley Corp. v. Krasny Supply Co., Inc. (1991), 227 Ill. App. 3d 414, 419, 592 N.E.2d 8, 11.

Under certain circumstances, exculpatory clauses may bar a plaintiff’s negligence claim. Harris v. Walker (1988), 119 Ill. 2d 542, 548, 519 [**1071] N.E.2d 917, 919. [HN4] Exculpatory clauses will be upheld in the absence of fraud; willful and wanton conduct; legislation to the contrary; where the exculpatory clause is not contrary to the settled public policy of this State; where there is no substantial disparity in the [***9] bargaining position of the parties; and where there is nothing in the social relationship of the parties which militates against upholding the agreement. Harris, 119 Ill. 2d at 548, 519 N.E.2d at 919; Reuben H. Donnelley Corp., 227 Ill. App. 3d at 419, 592 N.E.2d at 11; Garrison v. Combined Fitness Centre, Ltd. (1990), 201 Ill. App. 3d 581, 584, 559 N.E.2d 187, 189-90.

Absent any of the above factors, [HN5] the question of whether or not an exculpatory clause will be enforced depends upon whether or not defendant’s conduct and the risk of injury inherent in said conduct was of a type intended by the parties to fall within the scope of the clause. See Larsen v. Vic Tanny, International (1984), 130 Ill. App. 3d 574, 577, 474 N.E.2d 729, 731; see also Simpson v. Byron Dragway, Inc. (1991), 210 Ill. App. 3d 639, 647, 569 N.E.2d 579, 584. The precise occurrence which results in injury need not have been contemplated by the parties at the time the agreement was entered [***10] into. Garrison, 201 Ill. App. 3d at 585, 559 N.E.2d at 190.

In the present case, plaintiff’s injury is a type that was intended to fall in the scope of the exculpatory clause thereby entitling defendant to summary judgment. The exculpatory provision provides as follows:

The undersigned hereby acknowledges that ski racing is a dangerous sport which can lead to serious injury, or even death. The undersigned hereby understands and agrees to personally assume any and all of the liability and risks of alpine racing.

Further, the undersigned hereby agrees to hold harmless [defendants] * * * from any responsibility or liability for any and all personal injuries or death which may occur during the 1985-86 CMSC Racing Series. (Emphasis added.)

While the parties may not have contemplated that plaintiff would be injured by skiing over a compression area in the ski racecourse, they [*318] could and did contemplate a broad range of accidents which occur during skiing, including problems with the surface of the ski racecourse.

The present case is analogous to Schlessman v. Henson (1980), 83 Ill. 2d 82, 86, 413 N.E.2d 1252, 1254, [***11] wherein this court held that a problem with an automobile race track surface was the type of risk which the exculpatory agreement was intended to cover. Although the parties may not have contemplated that a section of the race track would collapse during the race, they did contemplate a “broad range of accidents which occur in auto racing.” See also Garrison v. Combined Fitness Centre (1990), 201 Ill. App. 3d 581, 585, 559 N.E.2d 187, 190 (exculpatory clause contained in health club membership agreement relieved club from liability for injury caused by allegedly defective equipment, where clause stated that each member bore the “sole risk” of injury that might result from use of weights, equipment or other apparatus provided); Neumann v. Gloria Marshall Figure Salon (1986), 149 Ill. App. 3d 824, 827, 500 N.E.2d 1011, 1014 (exculpatory clause which expressly covered all risks of injury “while using any equipment” at the salon was enforceable because an injury to plaintiff resulting from the use of the machines was encompassed in the release).

Cases in which this court has found an exculpatory [***12] clause to be insufficient to release a defendant from liability for personal injuries to plaintiff are distinguishable from the present case. One line of cases wherein an exculpatory clause has been found ineffective have involved injuries or fatalities which clearly do not ordinarily accompany the activity which is the subject of the release. See Simpson v. Byron Dragway, Inc. (1991), 210 Ill. App. 3d 639, 649-50, 569 N.E.2d 579, 585-86 (a question of fact existed as to whether or not striking a deer while operating a race car on a drag strip was the type of risk which ordinarily accompanies the sport of racing); Larsen v. Vic Tanny, International (1984), 130 Ill. App. 3d 574, 578, 474 [**1072] N.E.2d 729, 732 (exposure to noxious fumes which injured plaintiff’s respiratory system was not a foreseeable risk related to the use of a health club). In the present case, however, the injuries to plaintiff resulting from a fall from a compression area in the ski course is a risk inherent in ski racing and as such falls within the scope of the exculpatory clause.

Another line of cases has held that the language of [***13] an exculpatory clause did not shield a defendant from liability that the language of the exculpatory clause was ambiguous with respect to which activities were covered. See Macek v. Schooner’s, Inc. (1991), 224 Ill. App. 3d 103, 106, 586 N.E.2d 442, 444-45 (genuine [*319] issue of material fact precluded summary judgment for sponsors of arm wrestling contest in personal injury action brought against it by a participant who was injured in the contest, existed as to whether the intent of the clause was to release the promoter of liability when injury resulted from the participant’s physical condition, or when injury resulted from the promoter’s negligence); Calarco v. YMCA of Greater Metropolitan Chicago (1986), 149 Ill. App. 3d 1037, 1043, 501 N.E.2d 268, 272 (statement that “participation in any of the activities of the YMCA” was ambiguous in that it could be read to mean that the exculpatory clause only pertained to participating in activities at the YMCA but not to liability from the use of equipment at the YMCA). The language of the exculpatory clause at issue in the present case is [***14] explicit and unambiguous and is thus sufficient as a matter of law to relieve defendant from liability.

Accordingly, the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to defendant was proper as there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether the exculpatory agreement encompassed plaintiff’s injuries.

For the above reasons, we affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment.

AFFIRMED.

TULLY, P.J. and CERDA, J., concur.

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