Birthday surprise doesn’t work out

by Walter Olson on September 9, 2008

This much seems to be agreed: Itzamargrid Ramos took her friend Clarissa Marino to scenic but hazardous Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills as a surprise for her 20th birthday. The two were hiking when Marino slipped on a rock — her footwear at the time was “flat, rubber-soled slip-on shoes with no tread” — and fell into a stream from which it took ninety minutes to rescue her. She sued the state of New York for failure to warn, but just lost her case in the state Court of Claims, which hears cases against the state government.

The two friends are now described as estranged, which may put in perspective a noteworthy discrepancy between their respective testimony. Marino “said she was never blindfolded at any point during the day”, while Ramos “told the court Marino was blindfolded for the entire two-hour car ride and even as they traversed most of the trail until just before the top of the falls. … In the end, the court said it found Ramos’ version more credible and that the ‘profound danger posed by the Kaaterskill Falls was open and obvious to anyone employing the reasonable use of her senses.'” (Paul Nelson, “Court rules against fall victim”, Albany Times-Union, Sept. 7).

{ 4 comments }

1 OBQuiet 09.09.08 at 11:45 am

I guess I will never understand the law.

Even if the she had been blindfolded, why would the State be liable. I could see holding the friend responsible since the danger was “open and obvious” and they had deliberately hidden that from the plaintiff. But any warnings the state posted would likewise have been obscured by the blindfold. Unless they were arguing that signs should have been posted everywhere along the trail JUST IN CASE you missed the first few at the trail head.

2 OBQuiet 09.10.08 at 1:40 pm

OBQuiet, I think you read that backwards. They accepted that she was blindfolded, which pretty much nullifies “failure to warn.”

3 Zubon 09.10.08 at 1:40 pm

err… that was me. Accidental ctrl-V with the name.

4 OBQuiet 09.10.08 at 7:41 pm

Zubon,

Your right,I seem to have inverted the actors here.

It is also nice to know that I wasn’t arguing with myself in public again.

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