“Her medical bills are significant. She’s had multiple surgeries. She’s had a really tough time. Her arm probably has some degree of permanent impairment.”– Robert Hoover, Attorney for the plantiff.
Vail Resorts’ legal team must be working overtime this week. After a lawsuit settlement over a 2020 skier death was announced this week, another lawsuit against the major ski resort conglomerate has emerged.
The Denver Post reports that Kathryn Stoupas is suing Vail Resorts due to injuries sustained from a toboggan crash. She’s seeking compensation for the injuries suffered, along with non-economic damages experienced by her during and after the situation. The Connecticut woman was skiing the Geronimo run at Keystone Resort, which is an ungroomed black diamond. She crashed on the trail, injuring her left shoulder. She then was brought down by ski patrol, which is when things turned for the worst.
The patrollers began to carry her down the mountain with a toboggan and were allegedly moving fast. The toboggan then lost control, flipped over, and dragged her “on her left side and face along the snow until it came to rest.” Her injuries became much more severe, which included “further damage to her already injured left shoulder, along with a fractured humerus bone in her upper arm, nerve damage, abrasions, and contusions to her face.”
Robert Hoover said the following in an interview with the Denver Post regarding the injuries that his client sustained:
“What we’re alleging is that this was certainly negligence on their part because they shouldn’t be crashing toboggan. She had already sustained some form of an upper body or left shoulder injury, but it was not a severe injury as compared to what happened after this crash. She knew she had hurt her shoulder, but she was not in acute pain. After the toboggan crash, she was in acute pain — agony, screaming, crying pain that she was not in before the toboggan crash.”
Luckily for Vail Resorts, the Colorado Ski Safety Act and their Epic Pass waivers largely protect them from paying a significant amount of money, such as the situation at Mt. Hood Skibowl, where they paid $10.5 million to an injured mountain biker. Hoover had this to say about the waiver and liability protections that Vail Resorts has on their side:
“My understanding from this discussion is that they intend to defend the case based on the (liability) waivers that everybody signs on their Epic passes. That’s about as far as we’ve gotten. It’s disappointing to me because what we see from representing injured people, Colorado law allows the ski industry to put these waivers in and then enforce these waivers.
These waivers have been shown to be enforceable in the past, so we don’t know what the courts are going to do. We expect Vail to try and have the complaint dismissed based on these waivers, and they might be successful. It’s really up to Miss Stoupas if that happens. We may end up in the appellate court.
Between the law that has come down in Colorado and these waivers they put in place, the ski areas have become almost completely immune from any claims by people that are injured by negligence. That’s not right, but it’s the law.”
The only comment that Vail Resorts has given so far is that they can’t comment on ongoing legal matters. We’ll keep you updated on the latest developments regarding this case.
Image Credits: Keystone Resort