Last Friday, a Deschutes County jury ruled in favor of Mt. Bachelor on a wrongful death lawsuit against the ski resort. NewsChannel 21 reports that this ruling has cleared the Oregon ski resort of liability and the lawsuit’s allegations of negligence.
Back in March of 2018, Alfonso Braun was one of two people that day at Mt. Bachelor that died in a tree well. The joint wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Eduardo Braun (Alfonso’s father) and the father of Nicole Panet-Raymond (the other skier that died that day), who were asking for $15 million each. They alleged that the ski resort didn’t monitor the heavy snowfall, and didn’t warn guests of the risks of skiing and riding there that day
Daniel Dziuba, who is the attorney for Eduardo Braun, released the following statement to NewsChannel 21:
“I am disappointed for the parents of Alfonso Braun. They are lovely people who have suffered a tremendous loss which they will always bear. I very much believe in the jury system, even when the jury’s decision is disappointing.
Hopefully, publicity concerning the deaths of Alfonso Braun and Nicole Panet-Raymond on the same day in tree wells at Mt. Bachelor, and the cases for their deaths, will raise awareness of the deadly hazard, and perhaps save lives.”
John Merriman, who is the president and general manager of Mt. Bachelor, said the following about the case:
“The entire team at Mt. Bachelor continues to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Mr. Braun. Skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor connects our community to the natural environment in which we live but also presents inherent risks to those who partake.
We will continue to educate skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, and other people that recreate outside about the inherent risks of outdoor recreation. We hope that our training and educational resources can help our guests enjoy our mountain and experience its natural environment in a safe and responsible manner.”
Oregon liability recreation law has been under criticism over nearly the past decade. After the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that liability waivers are unenforceable in 2014, which led to successful lawsuits against ski resorts.
After a Multnomah County jury awarded mountain biker Gabriel B. Owens $10.5 million for his lawsuit against Mt. Hood Skibowl, the ski resort decided to close its mountain biking park for good. In response to the increase in these kinds of Oregon lawsuits, Mt. Bachelor ended up reducing their season pass price if guests were willing to sign a liability waiver. Recreational leaders in Oregon tried to get new legislation passed in the state legislature that would further protect themselves, but those efforts failed for at least this year.
The other lawsuit that Mt. Bachelor is facing from that fateful March day regarding the death of Nicole Panet-Raymond is still ongoing.
Image Credits: Mt. Bachelor