Saving yourself while sacrificing the rest of an industry. Is anyone going to buy you a drink for winning when you just made it easier to sue them?

In the US Forest Service response to the lawsuit to open snowboarding at Alta, allegations were made by the USFS that are going to come back and haunt all other ski areas in states with weak skier safety statutes.

Alta is one of three ski areas that do not allow snowboarding. Deer Valley and Mad River Glen are the other two. Alta and the US Forest Service were sued last year by a group of snowboarders wanting to open Alta to snowboarding. The lawsuit was based on Federal constitutional law, and the legal arguments have little relevance here. Except the USFS defense to the lawsuit placed into the record some statements that can create havoc in lawsuits against other ski areas.

A ski area operating on USFS land must file an Operation Plan. If the resort is open year round the plan may have two plans, a Winter Operation Plan and a Summer Operation Plan. The USFS in referencing the Alta’s Winter Operation plan quotes it stating:

Additionally, the Operating Plan provides that Alta reserves the right to exclude those whose “skiing device” is deemed to create an “unnecessary risk,” causes “undue damage to the quality of the snow,” and “is not consistent with [Alta’s] business management decisions.”

In another section of the USFS motion they quote the plan as:

Alta Ski Area reserves the right to exclude any type of skiing device that they deem creates an unnecessary risk to other skiers and/or the user of the device, or any device that they deem causes undue damages to the quality of the snow, or is not consistent with their business management decisions.

So snowboards have been labeled by a ski area and the USFS as an “unnecessary risk.” That risk in the second paragraph applies to other skiers on the mountain and the user. Another issue I find almost comical is the argument that snowboarders have a blind spot.

First, snowboarders go down the mountain facing sideways, whereas skiers go down the mountain facing forward and directly downhill. ECF No. 2, ¶ 87. A snowboarder’s side-ways orientation creates a blind-spot that they must turn into; skiers do not turn into their blind spot.

But so do skiers, and walkers, and people on an inner tube going down the hill. The blind spot is directly behind your head (your eyes) were you can’t see. That blind spot is not based on what is on your feet, but is based on your orientation to the other people.  A snowboarder going downhill has an identical blind spot to a skier crossing the hill. Neither can see behind them.

The issue is where a ski area can be sued for injuries of a skier; any injuries the skier alleges were caused by the snowboarder are going to be buttressed by the USFS motion and Alta’s Winter Operation Plan. Maybe even if injuries they do to themselves?

Are these issues critical to other ski areas? Hopefully not. However, they may be thrown up in other cases and can provide testimony that can influence a jury.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Victim statement in criminal Skier v. Skier collision is the bigger problem for the ski and outdoor industry

Victim in court stated she was not aware that skiing was a dangerous sport.

This is a sad situation. A skier, possibly skiing to fast and/or out of control hit a beginner skier. Both suffered serious injuries. Both of them have had their life changed forever.

However that is not what caught my eye. At the sentencing hearing the victim made this statement.

“I never thought of skiing being a life-threatening sport,” Vitt [victim] said. “I could not have been more wrong.”

Granted it was probably a statement made in court to make a point, but it is very scary. It means that the skier missed the signs indicating skiing was a risk sport. Missed the back of their lift ticket or did not read their season pass. They never saw any of the reports of injuries or fatalities or they did not understand the risk when riding up the lift.

OR

We in the outdoor recreation industry are not doing a good job of informing guests of the risk.

Should We Do Something

Should we? Should we spend more time explaining the actual risks of skiing to clients?

See Punishment handed down in ski accident

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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AMGA Terrain and Supervision Guidelines? Making more rules does not make things safer. Rarely does that work, look at the laws concerning our highways and the highway deaths. Making more rules does lead to more lawsuits. Again, look at our highways.

The latest actions of AMGA hit a lot of nerves and rightfully so. As usual, the lack of understanding and the desire to create something (not sure what) labeled standards are going to create lawsuits. The new Terrain & Supervision Guidelines won’t solve any problems; they’ll only create new ones.

I’ve attached the new requirements here below, so you can review them yourself. If not, you can download your own set here: Terrain & Supervision Guidelines. I’m not sure why the AMGA has created the new requirements. I’ve been told it is a money thing, I’ve been told it is a safety thing, I’ve been told it is a back door into trying to get permits on NPS lands; I have no real idea. I do know it won’t accomplish any of those goals. I did not contact the AMGA to find out what or why.

Attorneys love to deal in fuzzy it gives them latitude to litigate. The only time they don’t like fuzzy is when something is solid and proves their case without having to work very hard. The new Terrain & Supervision Guidelines are the classic sharp line to help prove the defendant was wrong and everything else is fuzzy so no one really knows how to help the defendant.

Let me reminisce.

I quit providing pro bono legal work to the AMGA over fifteen years ago when another attorney said he could get the AMGA into national parks. I told the AMGA that would never happen. I moved on. Fifteen years later and at least two attorneys failing to pull AMGA guides into parks, the AMGA might be going around to the back door believing the back door will open.

Back doors meaning the NPS employees in individual parks who lead the rescues have to deal with the current concessionaires; who they don’t like (familiarity breed’s contempt). It is always easier to like someone who is sucking up in the belief; you can get them in a park to guide.

The problem is the door is not at any park; the door is in Washington DC no matter what the AMGA wants to believe. It doesn’t start at 1849 C St NW, Washington, DC 20240, the Department of the Interior address, either, but at Congress. Congress made the laws the NPS, and the USFS are enforcing on commercial guides on Federal lands. Until the AMGA can raise millions, probably $10 million dollars to lobby Congress, nothing will even look like it is going to change. And I suspect that the $10 million is not enough because the current companies that own permits and concessions will lobby against it, and they are bigger. Remember the big hotel concessions in the parks also run raft trips, trail rides and work with climbing guides.

However, I’ve also been told that the AMGA has backed off from the position that AMGA guides should be allowed to guide in National Parks.

I have found some legal disasters in the new Terrain & Supervision Guidelines.

The guidelines won’t apply to staff hired prior to 2008. An arbitrary number I guess, or probably the number when the last member of the committee became certified and was hired. I sat through board meetings when the first date of guides to be grandfathered under the UIAGM was determined. It was ugly, funny and basically a turf war. Trial attorneys will tear this up. (How come Guide X made it and Guide Y did not. Guide Y has thousands of year’s more recent experience, and Guide X has not been on a mountain since 08?)

The guidelines require that everything has to be documented “in the guide’s personnel file.” Thank heavens the AMGA has reviewed all HR laws in the US and knows this will not create problems. If personal files are paper, then you better get accordion files. To back this up, you’ll have to collect all the information supporting the requirements in the guidelines first, and then add the review of the supervising guides and the evaluations. Weather conditions, snow conditions, terrain maps, route maps, etc., can take a lot of space in a file folder.

My favorite rule is one that requires a guide who has not made the qualifications yet, must be under the direct supervision of a guide who has met the qualifications. Unless the guide, who has met the qualifications, has to take guests down the mountain, then the two guides can be in radio contact. The rules allow the least experienced guide to remain up high, alone.

Direct Supervision: Direct supervision implies side by side guiding such as two rope teams traveling near by on a glacier or on nearby multi-pitch routes, daily briefings and debriefings about route selection, strategy, and client care. Side by side guiding and meetings should be documented in the guide’s personnel file. It is the supervising guide’s responsibility to ensure that assigned tasks are appropriate to a guide’s training and ability. It is allowable for the mentored guide to be in radio or phone contact when turning around with clients to descend.

What if the guide who has been certified, leaves to summit with a group of clients, can the one who hasn’t been certified stay with the clients who don’t/can’t summit. They’ll be in radio contact?

So you make a rule, then you make an exception to the rule. On Denali in a few years, this will be a disaster. The new concession requirements for climbing concessions are going to reduce the number of guides with a commercial group. Rescues will be done without commercial guides because a guide won’t be able to leave the group and work the rescue with these guidelines. (Rescues in the future on Denali are going to be a mess with the latest version of the commercial rules anyway, that is a whole other article.)

The languages of the guidelines are full of legal land mines. Here are some of my favorites.

…who are appropriately trained, tenured or certified

It is the supervising guide’s responsibility to ensure that assigned tasks are appropriate to a guide’s training and ability.

Certified supervisors

…is not of wilderness in nature

My favorite are the terms applied to different people.

Apprentice Guide

Assistant Guide

Aspirant Mountain Guide

Certified Guide

So does that mean you are a patrol leader or a star scout? More importantly do you get a badge?

Here are some more phrases that seem innocuous but don’t make sense.

The stated goal of the new accreditation standard is to have all field staff, except those meeting the 2008 exemption, be trained by the AMGA for the terrain they work on.

So guides who met the requirements prior to 2008 cannot have a lick of training, sense or experience now and not be up to date on the requirements.

How is this going to happen? So I have a concession to guide on Denali. Am I supposed to bring you on one of my trips to tell me that you can train me on this terrain? What about the NPS on this issue and their current regulations. I guess you can come, go sign up and pay the fee, and I’ll take you where I am permitted to go.

AMGA courses are considered the baseline technical training for specific terrain types and are not a substitute for in-house training.

Yet above, they said this is the best you can get? What is this going to mean in court? The AMGA is just the baseline, yet the states the IFMGA (UIAGM) are now the baseline.

(The IFMGA (UIAGM) was founded to allow guides in Europe to guide everywhere and is the International Organization the AMGA must follow.)

I doubt that this has been run by the IFMGA (UIAGM).

Do Something

What’s going to happen? The big concessionaire members of the AMGA are either going to leave and financially sink the AMGA or revolt. No one will be happy either way. They don’t need greater chances of being sued. People die on mountains, and I would guess these new guidelines are not going to change that. They know the terrain and have in place, with NPS approval a way of guiding customers and training staff.

I have not taken the time to compare these guidelines with current NPS regulations for various mountains. I suspect there may be some conflicts. What is a concessionaire supposed to do, not follow the NPS and lose their permit or not follow these. Let’s see I pay money to the AMGA I make money with my NPS permit. Who am I going to follow?

These guidelines, like all standards for people, will only create a checklist for the attorney representing an injured client to sue. The guidelines will be taken and incorporated in interrogatories about each member of the guiding team. One misstep on the mountain or in discovery and these guidelines will change the lawsuit from what we can defend to how much we have to pay.

Don’t get me wrong. The American Mountain Guides Association has some of the greatest people I know as members and as an organization has accomplished tons. However, it is faced with an impossible job with no money to accomplish the job: the promise the AMGA made to the IFMGA in 1993 is never going to come through.

However, making standards, guidelines for people do not stop lawsuits; they only help the plaintiff’s win lawsuits.

Click on the link to download your own copy of the Terrain & Supervision Guidelines.

See the following articles where association guidelines were used to sue the association member:

ACA Standards are used by Expert for the Plaintiff in a lawsuit against a Camp                                       http://rec-law.us/zmKgoi

Great article about the risks of an organization creating standards for members of the industry – and I did not write it                                                                              http://rec-law.us/1rk8oHR

If your organization says you do something and you are a member of the organization you better do it or be able to explain why you did not                                   http://rec-law.us/1gOLpju

Expert Witness Report: ACA “Standards” are used by Expert for the Plaintiff in a lawsuit against a Camp            http://rec-law.us/y7QlJ3

Industry standards are proof of gross negligence and keep defendant in lawsuit even with good release            http://rec-law.us/1dqBdxo

Plaintiff uses standards of ACCT to cost defendant $4.7 million                   http://rec-law.us/11UdbEn

So if you write standards, you can, then use them to make money when someone sues your competitors            http://rec-law.us/1gCGce8

Trade Association Standards sink a Summer Camp when plaintiff uses them to prove Camp was negligent                                                                               http://rec-law.us/wszt7N

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What do you think? Leave a comment.

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

Copyright 2013 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

#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,  IFMGA, UIAGM, AMGA, Terrain, Guidelines, American Mountain Guides Association, Mountaineering, International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations,

 


Federal Interagency annual pass opens the gate to more than 2,000 recreation areas

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Celebrate Independence in the great outdoors
Interagency annual pass opens the gate to more than
2,000 recreation areas

Dear Park Enthusiast –
This summer, why not flex your independence by experiencing all the treasures your national parks and wildlife areas have to offer, with the convenient annual Interagency pass?Buy the Interagency pass now and start using it this weekend**.

For a single, one-time fee, you get a full year of access to more than 2,000 Federal recreation sites across the country managed by:

National Park Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
Bureau of Land Management
• Bureau of Reclamation

Imagine hiking through a pristine meadow in Yellowstone, or visiting historic Gettysburg where President Lincoln delivered his famous address. Take your family to see designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks 700 years ago at Petroglyph National Monument. Visit just two or three recreation areas in the next 12 months and your Interagency pass will have paid for itself!

Learn more online. If you have questions, call our Customer Service Representatives at
(703) 994-4194 or email service.

Best wishes and Happy 4th of July –
Kinsail Corporation
Authorized Vendor of the National Parks / Interagency Annual Pass
1420 Beverly Road
Suite 150
McLean VA 22101
P: (703) 994-4194
F: (518) 615-8422
service* If you buy your annual Interagency pass now (between today and July 31), it’s valid
through July 31, 2015.
** If you request expedited shipping.

Colorado Outdoor Recreation Resource Partnership meeting Friday: Confluence of Oil & Gas Development and Recreation

Denver Capital building

Denver Capital building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t miss this! Please join CORRP on Friday, June 20th for a

discussion about the confluence of oil and gas development and recreation.

Location: Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Hunter Education building, 6060 Broadway, Denver, CO 80216 http://goo.gl/maps/sebC3
Date: Friday, June 20th, from 8:00 to 9AM (doors open at 7:30AM)

CORRP is the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Resource Partnership. CORRP communicates the public value and resulting management needs of Colorado’s diverse outdoor recreation resources in such a way that their intrinsic and economic values are maintained for future generations.

Outdoor Alliance Colorado (OAC) will be providing refreshments. OAC is a state wide human-powered recreation partnership that serves as a platform for members to coordinate their efforts to protect public lands, waters and snowscapes, and to ensure these places can be experienced in a meaningful and sustainable manner. Learn more at: outdooralliance.net/colorado/

Speakers from Outdoor Alliance Colorado include Nathan Fey, American Whitewater’s Colorado Stewardship Director and Leslie Kehmeier IMBA’s Mapping Specialist. They will be sharing their work on a statewide map of the intersection of recreation and oil and gas development.

Jason Robertson, CORRP co-chair and Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region Deputy Director for Recreation, Lands & Minerals will also be sharing agency observations on the relationship between recent developments in the oil and gas industry and land management for recreation.

Don Bruns, Bureau of Land Management Colorado Recreation Program Lead, will present on recent work related to the Visual Resource Management of development as it relates to recreation, with an emphasis on mitigating those impacts.

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Submit Your Photos: 2014 Share the Experience Contest America’s federal lands, national parks, forests, waterways and historical sites

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Share the Experience Photo Contest is Back!The 2014 Share the Experience Photo Contest is now accepting entries through December 31. If you’re an amateur photographer, this is your chance to submit inspiring images of America’s federal lands, national parks, forests, waterways and historical sites. The 2014 contest features many prizes and a brand new submission category – Night Skies.Share the Experience showcases amazing photography that highlights the endless recreation opportunities and breathtaking scenery offered by our federal lands. In 2013 about 18,000 images were submitted. See our complete list of 2013 winners and honorable mentions.

Will you be our next winner? The 2014 Grand Prize package includes $10,000, the winning image featured on the 2016 America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass and other great prizes. For a full listing of prizes and rules, or to submit a photo, please visit www.sharetheexperience.org.

2014 submission categories include:

· Adventure & Outdoor Recreation

· Historical & Cultural

· Let’s Move Outside!

· Night Skies – NEW!

· Scenic, Seasons & Landscapes

· Wildlife

Participating Federal Agencies include: National Park Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service.

Make sure you, your family and friends visit www.sharetheexperience.org to view amazing photos and weekly winners, vote for favorites and submit your entries.

Good Luck!

Enter Your Photo NowCONTEST SPONSORSNational Park Foundation
ACTIVE Network
Celestron

 

 

Recreation.gov

What is the basis for the snowboarder’s lawsuit against ALTA & the USFS? Number 1 question I’ve been asked the last 2 weeks, so I asked

I met the attorney representing the four snowboarders and two of the plaintiff’s in their suit to open ALTA to snowboarding. They are committed and not just 20 something losers in Colorado to check out the lawns…..

Here was the statement on how and why I got from their attorney Jonathan R. Schofield.

Although Alta was one of the first resorts to allow snowboarding, Alta began banning snowboarders from its public land in the 1980s with the approval of the U.S. Forest Service.  Meanwhile, Alta invites “skiers” of all ages and ability levels on this same land regardless of, among other things, the size, shape, or type of “ski” actually used.  For instance, a variety of skis, mono-skis, and even tele-boards are all allowed at Alta, even though they are nearly identical to snowboards in many respects.  On its face, Alta’s no-snowboarding policy treats snowboarders differently than skiers by excluding snowboarders from equal access to public land.

The Constitution guarantees fairness of the laws, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees that similarly-situated persons will be treated alike unless governmental discrimination is, at a minimum, rationally related to a legitimate interest.  Because Alta operates under a government permit on public land and the Forest Service approves Alta’s actions, Alta and the Forest Service are government actors and their conduct must be lawful under the Equal Protection Clause.  Arguably, Alta has a legitimate interest in safely and effectively operating a ski resort under its permit.  However, as alleged in the lawsuit, there is no rational relationship between Alta’s snowboarding ban and Alta’s interest in operating its resort.  The lawsuit further alleges that the reasons offered to justify the snowboarding ban are mere pretext for animus (dislike) of the type of people believed to be “snowboarders.”  Animus is inherently irrational and can never justify governmental discrimination.

The lawsuit is available in its entirety by clicking here.

If you want to stay on top of the suit, the group has a non-profit called Wasatch Equality, with a website here.

I don’t know if they are going to win, but I bought a t-shirt. J

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Copyright 2014 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         #Authorrank

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