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Court: Skier Allowed To Sue Resort For Injuries

Woman Suffers Several Injuries After Falling 12 Feet Into Halfpipe

Dec 15, 2004 | AP

A federal appeals court restored a Florida woman's lawsuit on Tuesday against a Wyoming ski resort she claimed was responsible for injuries she suffered after falling into a snowboard halfpipe.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver overturned the ruling of a Wyoming district judge, who sided with the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Corporation in a summary judgment last year.

The company operates the ski resort in western Wyoming where South Florida-resident Camie R. Dunbar was injured in March 2001. A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled a jury should hear the case to decide whether the accident was an inherent risk of skiing or negligence. The lawsuit was sent back the Wyoming district court for reconsideration.

Dunbar, a self-described intermediate skier, entered the resort's terrain park while on vacation. The park contained large jumps and other man-made obstacles designed for advanced skiers and snowboarders. It was marked with signs warning that "serious injuries, death and equipment damage can occur."Halfpipes, common fixtures in many terrain parks, are long U-shaped bowls with high walls that allow skiers and snowboarders to gain momentum to ride up the other side or maneuver air-born tricks.

The Wyoming district court ruled that since Dunbar willingly entered the terrain park, she assumed the inherent risks associated with the area. The appeals court disagreed, saying even though Dunbar knew she had entered the park, she specifically chose not to use any of the jumps or other obstacles.Warning signs told skiers and snowboarders to "observe terrain features, their risks and the degree of difficulty before using."

The appeals court said that was what Dunbar did. Following the directions of a resort employee, Dunbar was trying to exit the area when she and her companions came upon what they thought was a flat narrow run called a catwalk. The run actually was the top of a halfpipe, the appeals ruling said. Dunbar said she suffered several injuries after falling 12 feet into the halfpipe, including a broken hip that will prevent natural child birth.

The resort said signs warn skiers and snowboarders they are approaching a halfpipe, but Dunbar and her companions said they didn't see any signs, according to the appeals ruling.

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