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Recreational Athlete v. Race Operator

Michael A. Kelly and Andrew P. McDevitt represented a 40-year-old Bay Area husband and father who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury while snow skiing at an out-of-state resort. For unknown reasons the injured plaintiff ended up on a trail which had been incompletely closed in order to prepare for a competitive race. Competitors were training on the run and public access was supposed to have been blocked. Once on the course, plaintiff could not figure out how to get off. As he descended the hill he encountered a race official who, instead of escorting plaintiff off of the run, directed him to ski down the race training area. In doing so he crashed. Minutes later one of the race participants found his body tangled in race netting. He suffered a major head injury and was hospitalized for four months. Mike and Andrew alleged that the defendant race operators were negligent in failing to prevent recreational skiers from skiing on the run. Defendants argued that plaintiff was an expert skier who chose to ski on expert terrain and assumed the risks of skiing which ultimately led to his injuries. The defendant’s motion for summary judgment was defeated on the basis that the race operators had increased the risks inherent in recreational skiing. The case resolved for a confidential amount after the summary judgment ruling and the completion of expert discovery.