Skier allegedly injured while being transported in rescue sled loses appeal in California court

By Asia Mayfield | Oct 9, 2018

EL DORADO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) – A skier allegedly injured when the rescue sled she was riding hit a tree has lost her appeal over a judgment ruling in favor of the ski resort.

The trial court’s ruling was affirmed by Judge Harry Hull Jr. of the 3rd Appellate District Court of California. The ruling was filed on Sept. 4. Both courts determined that plaintiff and appellant Teresa Martine knowingly the accepted the risk of injury when she decided to go skiing and that defendant Heavenly Valley Limited Partnership, the ski resort owner, wasn’t negligent.  

In 2009, the ruling states Martine injured her knee skiing and called ski patrol to help. As she was being transported down the mountain on a rescue sled, ski patrolman Gustav Horn crashed. The sled hit a tree and Martine allegedly sustained further injuries. She filed a suit against Heavenly in 2011.  

The trial court granted Heavenly’s motion for summary judgment, noting that Martine’s complaint was “barred by the doctrine of primary assumption of risk,” the ruling states. Martine tried to get a new trial but her motion was denied.  

Martine argues that she “injured her knee while skiing and called for ski patrol to transport her to the bottom of the mountain. She was loaded into a sled by ski patrol, who may have loaded her improperly. During her transport to the bottom of the mountain, ski patrol negligently failed to maintain control of the sled...”  

According to Heavenly, however, the accident occurred after a group of skiers crashed into Horn.  

The ruling states the trial court found Martine willingly chose to ski and she willingly chose to ride down the mountain with ski patrol and that ski accidents are part of the risk of skiing.

“In the sports setting, however, conditions or conduct that otherwise might be viewed as dangerous often are an integral part of the sport itself. Thus, although moguls on a ski run pose a risk of harm to skiers... a ski resort has no duty to eliminate them,” Hall wrote.  

Martine argued that she wasn’t actively skiing when she was injured but the court found that argument to be unconvincing.

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