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ARTICLE ID 195262

$________ – PREMISES LIABILITY – HAZARDOUS PREMISES – DEFENDANTS INCREASED INJURY RISKS BY BUILDING A STAGING AREA ACROSS ENTIRE WIDTH OF A BEGINNER TRAIL WITH A JUMP – FAILURE TO WARN – PLAINTIFF SUFFERED A C6 BURST FRACTURE

Los Angeles County, CA

In this premises liability matter, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant ski resort was negligent and created a hazardous condition by building a staging area across the entire width of a beginner ski trail, which contained a concave uphill slope or jump. The defendant’s failure to warn or mark the trial resulted in the plaintiff becoming airborne and landing on her neck and back. The plaintiff sustained a burst fracture to her cervical spine, which rendered her a complete quadriplegic. The defendant contended that the plaintiff was solely responsible for her own injuries and damages.

On March 1, ________, the 32-year-old female plaintiff – an equine veterinarian – and her friend, went to the defendant’s ski resort. The plaintiff and her friend began to ski down a trail called the Woodworth Gulch. The trail was marked as a green – or beginner trail. Neither the plaintiff nor her companion had been down the trail prior to March 1. According to her expert, the plaintiff was traveling at a speed of approximately 34 miles per hour. The plaintiff noticed that there was an uphill portion of the trail ahead of her which extended for the entire width of the trail. The uphill portion was not marked, and the plaintiff simply believed that it was a gentle uphill grade and rollover, which was part of the natural terrain of the trail. The plaintiff went up the upward slope, launched into the air, and rotated backward, where she landed on her neck and back. The plaintiff was diagnosed with a C6 burst fracture with retropulsion of the bony fragments into her spinal cord. She is now a C6-C7 complete quadriplegic. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant ski resort, alleging that the defendant unreasonably increased the risks inherent in the sport of skiing by (1) building a staging area across the entire width of the green beginner trail (2) building the staging area with a concave uphill slope which causes patrons to become airborne and rotate backwards (3) allowing patrons to use the staging area as a jump (4) failing to construct an appropriate landing area, since it was known by the defendant that skiers and snowboarders used this as a jump, and (5) by failing to provide any warnings or signs to alert the plaintiff, and other patrons, that the man made structure is, in fact, a staging area, and there is a terrain park on the other side.

The defendant denied responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries and damages. The defendant contended that the ski resort is an all terrain park mountain, which means inherently that there are jumps and terrain features all over the park. The defendant maintained that the plaintiff failed to follow posted warnings which designated the area as a "slow" zone. The defendant’s expert maintained that the plaintiff was skiing in excess of 60 miles per hour immediately prior to coming upon the staging area.

The matter proceeded to trial.At the conclusion of evidence, the jury deliberated and returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The jury assessed liability at 18% to the defendant resort and 82% to the plaintiff. The jury awarded a gross verdict of $________, consisting of $________ in past medical expenses; $________ in past lost earnings; $________ in past non-economic damages; $________ in future medical care and expenses; $________ in future lost earnings, and $________ in future non-economic damages. The plaintiff’s net verdict is $________.

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