A veto message from Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, after the California legislature passed a bill imposing a fine on children or their parents or guardians for skiing or snowboarding without a helmet: “While I appreciate the value of wearing a ski helmet,” wrote the governor, “I am concerned about the continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state.” [John Myers, KQED; text of veto message]
“The tree trunks, exposed banks and other hazards whizzing past represent a cornucopia of potential tort suits under U.S. law, yet somehow the Swiss manage to operate these runs without being sued into oblivion.” Dan Fisher at Forbes has a go at explaining why. More: Bill Childs, TortsProf (many U.S. states relatively protective of winter sports providers).
Serial suit-filer Alfred Rava wanted to use his lawsuit against Bear Valley Ski Resort over a “Ladies’ Day” promotion as the basis for a class action, but a judge ruled that he’s not entitled to do that, because California’s Unruh Act already provides for him to get a $4,000 payday with no need to show injury:
“Assuming plaintiff succeeds on the merits, Bear Valley Ski Resort would be liable for mandatory statutory penalties of $4,000 X 995 putative class members,” [Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Anthony] Mohr wrote. “The product of $3,980,000 constitutes a draconian sum that would strip Bear Valley of its assets.”
[Cal Law "Legal Pad" via Cal Biz Lit, court order in PDF]
Say not that the assumption-of-risk doctrine is defunct: “As a self-described expert skier with 13 years’ experience, Brian W. Martin, 17, was well aware of the risks associated with rail sliding and had acknowledged falling before while attempting to execute a rail maneuver, an Appellate Division, 3rd Department, panel ruled last week in Martin v. State of New York, 505999.” [NYLJ]
The boy’s parents, Robb and Susan Swimm of Colorado, have agreed to a $25,000 settlement. (Matthew Heller, On Point News, Jul. 22). Earlier: Dec. 28, Jan. 3.
In a 3-2 decision, the Utah Supreme Court has held a liability waiver unenforceable, and permitted a skier to sue a resort for his injuries in a skiing accident, notwithstanding his agreement to the contrary by disingenuously expanding a state assumption-of-the-risk statute for ski resorts to forbid any contractual modification of liability. When even Utah refuses to honor contracts, you know we’re in trouble.
Edited to add: For some reason, multiple commenters who haven’t read the opinion are claiming that the only thing the opinion does is require a signature. Not so: Rothstein explicitly signed a release, and the release only covered negligence (permitting Rothstein to sue for intentional torts). Rothstein realized the benefit of the bargain, by getting season tickets for a considerably cheaper price than he would have been able to if the resort knew he wasn’t going to honor his end of the bargain. The Utah Supreme Court (not an intermediate appellate court) rewrote the agreement retroactively. Consumers are hurt.