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  1. #1
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    Ski Bowl Halts Biking Operations

    After a $10M+ lawsuit Ski Bowl stops all mountain biking on their land. I feel horrible for the guy who was injured, but there is an inherent risk to mountain biking, and to sue the hell out of a small mountain operation like this seems frivolous. Collapsible signs? Collapsible trees? I'm curious what this will do to ski resorts across the country who offer lift assisted riding?

    https://skibowl.com/services/bike-op...tm_term=120522
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  2. #2
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    There was a discussion about this case in the Oregon ski thread.

    I am not a fan of sueing ski areas when you are engaging in inherently dangerous sports like downhill mountain biking. But it was alleged that Ski Bowl put a 4" x 4" sign post right on the side of the bike trail at a place where speeds were high. On top of this, there was a berm that the plaintiff said caused him to get bumped off his bike where he crashed into the sign post and was paralyzed waist down. The exact cause of injury was disputed at a jury trial. But ultimately, 12 jurors unanimously agreed that Ski Bowl was liable. It's rare for these cases to go to a jury trial. Normally, the defendant and insurance company just settle. I wasn't happy to see Ski Bowl play sore loser and blame the paralyzed guy, and the 12 jurors (who heard all the evidence and ruled against Ski Bowl) for forcing them to shut down their bike park

    https://www.oregonlive.com/clackamas...regon-man.html

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by G. Gordon Liddy View Post
    I'm curious what this will do to ski resorts across the country who offer lift assisted riding?
    Give them a message that it is stupid to put 4 inch by 4 inch post right next to high speed parts of bike trails. I have never seen that in my mountain biking life. Yes, I have seen 4 x 4 posts used at intersections and places where bikers will be traveling slowly. But never next to a high speed part of the trail. I don't think the big areas, like Whistler, would ever do something so stupid and now they definitely won't.

  4. #4
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    We were talking about this last night, and my friend told me that one of our mutual friends broke an ankle on that same 4x4 post.

  5. #5
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    Good to know about the 4x4 post. I wondered if it was something negligent, and not just a regular sign post.
    Some people are like Slinkies... not really good for anything, but you still can't
    help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs...

  6. #6
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    This is like the tree stump pow day scenario that came up here awhile ago.

    I forget if it was based on real events but the gist was whether a resort should be held liable if they did a shitty job clearing a tree (cutting the stump off 2’ high vs flush with ground) and someone gets fucked up because whoever cut the tree did a shitty, negligent job. Could the situation naturally occur? Yes. And in those situations that should be considered an inherent risk. But people shouldn’t be allowed to introduce inherent risks such as a high stump or fixed object on the side of a DH trail.


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  7. #7
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    Here's a picture of the area in question.

    On one hand, yes, putting a 4x4 post there doesn't seem like a great idea. On the other hand, the trail goes past hundreds of trees that are similarly situated and present an identical hazard. It doesn't make sense to hold the ski area liable for injuries when a guy hits a signpost but not liable for injuries when a guy hits a similarly situated tree.

    It's terrible that the guy got hurt, but it's silly that the ski area has to pay. The guy just got lucky in hitting the one non-natural obstacle on the trail.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    Here's a picture of the area in question.
    Was it nighttime when they took that "picture"?
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    Was it nighttime when they took that "picture"?
    Is it not showing up? I can see it.

  10. #10
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    Now it is. Wasn't before. Weird.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    The guy just got lucky in hitting the one non-natural obstacle on the trail.

    Lucky... heh.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eluder View Post
    Lucky... heh.
    Maybe "rich" would have been the more appropriate word.

  13. #13
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    I found the plaintiff's complaint but not the judgment. I'm curious if there was a waiver involved and if so, how that played into the judgment

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    I found the plaintiff's complaint but not the judgment. I'm curious if there was a waiver involved and if so, how that played into the judgment
    It went to a jury trial, so the judgment might not have that information. I'd bet you'd have to get into the weeds a bit to find those details.

    From what I've read, there probably was a waiver that was held unenforceable. Unsure if Oregon has any sort of laws limiting bike park liability (like a skier safety act), but I would assume not.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    On one hand, yes, putting a 4x4 post there doesn't seem like a great idea. On the other hand, the trail goes past hundreds of trees that are similarly situated and present an identical hazard. It doesn't make sense to hold the ski area liable for injuries when a guy hits a signpost but not liable for injuries when a guy hits a similarly situated tree.
    Trees, rocks, and roots are all natural obstacles and inherit risks of the sport. 4 x 4 sign posts are not. But for the ski area's actions, the hazard would not be present. So there is a legal distinction between the two.

    From my reading, Ski Bowl was trying to argue there was doubt whether the guy even hit the sign post. Had the jury saw things Ski Bowl's way-that he hit the ground, or a tree (but not the sign) and was injured-Ski Bowl would not have been liable. The post was the crux of the case.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    I found the plaintiff's complaint but not the judgment. I'm curious if there was a waiver involved and if so, how that played into the judgment
    The fact it went all the way to a jury trial leads me to believe that if there was any kind of waiver, the judge ruled it was not applicable and let the case go to the jury. If a ski area forgot to put the pads on the lift tower and someone crashed into it, a waiver wouldn't prevent the ski area from being liable. Same situation here.

    You could email the plaintiff's attorney, who may voluntarily share some more details of the case since it is not being appealed and is over. Or if you want to do some serious deep digging, you could requests audio of the trial.

  17. #17
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    Good idea. I'll email the plaintiff's attorney. Waiver is so province and state specific. In BC (and all other Canadian jurisdictions to my knowledge) a proper waiver is 99.999% along the way of an absolute bar to liability for any activity with inherent risk. Hence Whistler bike park, heli-skiing, aggro inbounds terrain etc. Sounds like OR isn't the case so perhaps academic. But am sufficiently curious. I'll dig a bit and report back

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by altasnob View Post
    Trees, rocks, and roots are all natural obstacles and inherit risks of the sport. 4 x 4 sign posts are not. But for the ski area's actions, the hazard would not be present. So there is a legal distinction between the two.
    Right, and I'm saying that, in this context, that legal distinction is dumb.

    If the guy hit a tree instead of a sign post, would ski bowl be liable for failing to cut down that tree? How about if they screwed the sign to a tree?

    The guy lost control of his bike and ran into a clearly visible inanimate object that was not in the riding line of the trail.

    If I drive my car into a telephone pole, I don't sue the electric company. This isn't any different.

  19. #19
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    Right, and I'm saying that, in this context, that legal distinction is dumb.

    If the guy hit a tree instead of a sign post, would ski bowl be liable for failing to cut down that tree? How about if they screwed the sign to a tree?

    The guy lost control of his bike and ran into a clearly visible inanimate object that was not in the riding line of the trail.

    If I drive my car into a telephone pole, I don't sue the electric company. This isn't any different.
    Unfortunately it is. Blame that on the litigators who have sued ski areas and other adventure providers every since Sunday V Stratton..
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    If the guy hit a tree instead of a sign post, would ski bowl be liable for failing to cut down that tree?
    No, trees are part of mountain biking. Even trees right on the side of the trail.

    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    How about if they screwed the sign to a tree?
    If you hit the tree part, no. If you hit the sign part, possibly, depending on where the sign is, what kind of sign, ect.

    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    The guy lost control of his bike and ran into a clearly visible inanimate object that was not in the riding line of the trail.
    The sign is right next to the trail. If the sign was, say, 10 feet down the slope, maybe Ski Bowl wouldn't have been found liable. Or if Ski Bowl used a 2 x 2 post (that could possibly break away upon impact) Ski Bowl might not have been liable, even if the 2 x 2 is right next to the trail.

    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    If I drive my car into a telephone pole, I don't sue the electric company. This isn't any different.
    Depends on the location of the telephone pole. There are rules on where those can be placed. If the telephone company broke those rules, and placed the pole too close to the road, liability.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    Unfortunately it is. Blame that on the litigators who have sued ski areas and other adventure providers every since Sunday V Stratton..
    There's a legal distinction, but no functional distinction. I'm not saying the court got things wrong under the applicable law. I'm saying the applicable law is dumb.

    Skiing has at least partially addressed the problem via skier safety acts, but fixing recreational liability issues on a sport by sport (and state by state) basis is a dumb way to fix broader problems with the legal system.

    Tldr: Yay for tort reform.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by altasnob View Post
    No, trees are part of mountain biking. Even trees right on the side of the trail.
    Signs are also part of mountain biking. Have you ever ridden an unsigned bike park trail?

    Quote Originally Posted by altasnob View Post
    If you hit the tree part, no. If you hit the sign part, possibly, depending on where the sign is, what kind of sign, ect.
    I think this is a good example of how dumb these rules are.


    Quote Originally Posted by altasnob View Post
    The sign is right next to the trail. If the sign was, say, 10 feet down the slope, maybe Ski Bowl wouldn't have been found liable. Or if Ski Bowl used a 2 x 2 post (that could possibly break away upon impact) Ski Bowl might not have been liable, even if the 2 x 2 is right next to the trail.
    So if the sign was far enough from the trail that a rider wouldn't notice it, it'd be better. But then if the rider injured themselves because they didn't see an important sign, they'd sue for that instead. And let's not even talk about getting impaled on a breakable post. $$$!

    Quote Originally Posted by altasnob View Post
    Depends on the location of the telephone pole. There are rules on where those can be placed. If the telephone company broke those rules, and placed the pole too close to the road, liability.
    I'm sure skibowl would have been happy to follow any sign placement rules. And if they did, then they could sue the guy that crashed into their sign for replacement costs (just like the electric company does if you run into their pole).



    The rest of the world has figured out that controlling risks through unfettered private liability is a dumb way to go about things. Hopefully the U.S. will eventually pull its head out of its ass.

  23. #23
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    That post is nothing, compared to the features at some parks.

    That ruling is a travesty.

  24. #24
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    From those of us in the Oregon thread, Lee please let us know if the lawyer's email looks anything like "altasnob", he seems to be the only one really trying to sell this ruling as a good thing.

  25. #25
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    What if the biker hits a lawyer? Is there a party?

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