Legal, Risk Management & Insurance Issues facing the Outdoor Recreation Industry as, I see it.

As the industry grows and matures, it is attracting litigation. Additionally, the industry is marketing and attracting more people with no real knowledge of the risk and as such are more willing to sue.

The Outdoor Recreation Industry is facing a lot of new as well as the same-old problems they have in the past. Two components are creating the problems. Most of the industry does not have trade associations looking out after their member’s interests, and the industry keeps shooting itself in the foot.

Overall, here are the big issues I see the industry facing in 2018.

  1. There has been a substantial increase in the number of lawsuits in the industry. I used to find 20 new lawsuits a year and had another 250 stretching back into the 1930’s I could write about. I figured I could write for about ten years and cover 90% of the issues. Now I’m finding 250 a year. I’m never going to run out of lawsuits to review and write about.
    1. That increase seems to be proportionally to the activities that advertise their sports, especially those that advertise to families or groups.
      1. Zip Lines
      2. Ropes or Challenge Courses (These first two items have their industry associations working harder to promote litigation against them, still, then to stop it.)
      3. Skiing (but mostly skier v. skier collision cases) If you can’t sue the ski area, sue your friend you were skiing with or someone you never met.
    2. There are some industries where the number of lawsuits is dropping.
      1. Skiing. There are fewer lawsuits against ski areas, there are more lawsuits between participants at ski areas.
      2. Whitewater rafting, seems to have fewer lawsuits, although that is also probably to a maturing of the sport, there are less people getting injured.
  2. The Plaintiff’s are getting more sophisticated and working harder at attacking releases. Prior to 2010 occasionally, you would see plaintiff’s attempting to have the release thrown out of the litigation. Now days you see every lawsuit attacking the release and a few of them winning. Enough plaintiffs are winning that it is encouraging other plaintiffs to sue and try to void the release they signed.
  3. We still have a large contingent of people attempting to try to make it harder to sue. However, this ultimately making it easy to win a lawsuit against the industry. It’s like building a terrific trench system during WWI. The trench worked perfectly unless you were overran and then your perfect trench becomes the best defense to your arguments or attacks.
  4. There are more product liability lawsuits, and more lawsuits based on the failure to properly understand or use a harness. Most of these are occurring in the climbing wall industry, a few in the ropes’ course industry.
  5. Individual sports are having no lawsuits still. However, that will soon change. As a recreational area grows in popularity a trade association or organization believing they can get good PR or increase their membership is creating standards, classes and ways to sue that never existed before. Soon you will have a way to sue a belayer while climbing on a wall or on the rock because a standard was created. The standard is the duty, that if violated by the belayer makes the belayer liable.
  6. California Proposition 65 is going to make life miserable for manufacturers.
  7. None of the trade associations are working to help the industry learn and stay away from litigation. No one announced the changes to California Proposition 65. However, that could cost companies in the recreation industry millions if not more. Threatening letters have already started to arrive in manufacturer’s mail boxes demanding money because the manufacturer did not follow or even know the rules.

This is not a complete list, but it is a lot. I’ll expand on some of these ideas through the year.

Hopefully, I’m wrong.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Copyright 2018 Recreation Law (720) 334 8529

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Colorado Agency now regulating Zip Lines and Ropes Courses in Ohio

From: OPS Amusement Rides and Devices Program []
Sent: Monday, April 06, 2015 3:26 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Proposed Revisions to the Amusement Rides and Devices Regulations and New Certificate of Inspection Form

Dear Amusement Rides and Devices Stakeholder,

The Amusement Rides and Devices Program hosted a stakeholder meeting on February 20, 2015, to discuss proposed changes to our rules, which included:

  • adding language for the regulation of challenge courses and trampoline parks;
  • improving current language in regulation regarding zip lines;
  • adding language for patron responsibility;
  • clarifying language for reportable injuries; and
  • updating and/or including applicable standards and definitions.

We took all comments and feedback provided during the meeting into consideration and have postponed the effective date of the proposed changes to July 30, 2015, in order to conduct a second stakeholder meeting to discuss the revisions made after the meeting on February 20th. A draft copy of the revised proposed regulations is attached to this email for your review.

The second stakeholder meetings is scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at 1 pm in Conference Room 5C at the CDLE offices (633 17th Street, Denver, Colorado 80202). If you cannot attend the meeting, we encourage you to submit feedback to Scott Narreau at scott.narreau or 303-318-8495. If you plan to attend the meeting:

  • Please RSVP by sending an email to cdle_amusements; include your organization’s name and your contact information in your email.
  • When you arrive for the meeting, please check in on the 2nd floor, and then you will be directed to the 5th floor conference room.

In addition to the rule changes, we have also made changes to our Certificate of Inspection form. The purpose of changing the form is to further streamline the application process by reducing the amount of documentation submitted to our office. With the new form, a Third-Party Inspector can submit inspection certification information for up to 10 devices on one single form. We have attached a draft copy of the new Certificate of Inspection form to this email. We encourage you to review it and advise us if these or other changes would benefit you as either an operator or a Third-Party inspector.

As always, we thank you for your participation in our program.

Kind regards,

Division of Oil and Public Safety

Amusement Rides and Devices Program


We Keep Colorado Working.

P 303.318.8552 | F 303.318.8488

633 17th St., Suite 500, Denver, CO 80202

cdle_amusements |

**How are we doing? Please complete this survey to provide your feedback: OPS Customer Survey.**

Amusements Certificate of Inspection (Draft).pdf

Amusement Rides and Devices Proposed Rule Changes Effective 07-30-15 (Draft).pdf

Ohio Zip Line Association meeting to deal with Ohio Department of Agriculture wanting to control Zip Lines in the State

Join now and fight or forever hold your piece

Some of you may know that in the state of Ohio the Department of Agriculture has been discussing creating legislation for zip

English: Zip Line Canopy tour in Jaco Beach. O...

lines.  Some of the owners of Zip Line and Canopy Tours in the state have gotten together and formed the Ohio Zip Line Association.  As a group we have been working with the state to figure out where zip lines may or may not fit with their legislation.

We wanted to send an email notifying all interested parties that we will be holding an open meeting of the Ohio Zip Line Association for anyone who may want an update of what is going on in Ohio, or anyone who may want to become members of our group. 

The next Ohio Zip Line Association meeting, it will be held on:

April 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm


3347 McDowell Rd.

Grove City, OH 43123

If you would like to be a part of the meeting, but cannot attend, you can use the following call in number:

Dial +1 (312) 757-3131+1 (312) 757-3131

Access Code: 130-237-621

Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting

Meeting ID: 130-237-621

Feel free to email me off-list if you have any questions.

Lori Pingle


ZipZone Canopy Tours

Board President

Ohio Zip Line Association

Direct: 614-906-5674614-906-5674

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