Friday, January 24, 2020

Pennsylvania Skier's Responsibility Act Applies to Plaintiff Hurt While Standing in Line at Ski Lift

In the case of Borden v. Grossberger, No. 187-Civil-2019 (C.P. Monroe Co. Dec. 10, 2019 Harlacher-Sibum, J.), granted a Defendant’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings in a snowboarding accident case.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff asserted that she was injured when the minor Defendant, who was snowboarding at the time, struck the Plaintiff as she waited in line to board the ski lift. 

The Plaintiff filed suit against the minor, the parents of the minor, and the ski resort. 

The minor Plaintiff filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings alleging that the Plaintiff’s claims against him were barred by the Pennsylvania Skier’s Responsibility Act, 42 Pa. C.S.A. §7102(c). 

The court in this snowboarding case noted that previous appellate court decisions have held that the Pennsylvania Skier’s Responsibility Act applies equally to snowboarders. 

Also, from the perspective of the skier Plaintiff, Judge Harlacher Sibum also noted that the sport of downhill skiing to which the Pennsylvania Skier’s Responsibility Act is to be interpreted broadly and is not strictly limited to those times where a person is actually skiing downhill. Rather, the courts have held that other activities directly and necessarily incident to the act of downhill skiing, such as boarding a ski lift, riding a lift up the mountains, a lighting from the lift, and engaging in other skiing activities, all fall under the scope of the act. 

In this matter, the Plaintiff, who was standing at the base of a hill and waiting to get on a ski lift, was attempting to assert that she was not engaged in the sport of downhill skiing at the time she was struck by the snowboarder. 

The court ruled that the language of the Plaintiff’s Complaint, which confirmed that the Plaintiff was in line to board the ski lift, brought the Plaintiff’s case under the Act. The court noted that it would be “a tortured reading of the Complaint to reach the conclusion that Plaintiff was in the line for any other purpose.” 

Having determined that the Plaintiff was engaged in the sport of downhill skiing, the court continued its analysis under the Act and determined that the case law confirms that being struck by other skiers is an inherent risk of the sport of downhill skiing. 

 As such, Judge Harlacher Sibum held that the Pennsylvania Skier’s Responsibility Act applied and served to support a finding that the Plaintiff’s claims against the minor Plaintiff were barred by the assumption of risk doctrine as preserved under that Act. Accordingly, the court entered judgment as a matter of law in favor of the Defendant snowboarder who allegedly crashed into the Plaintiff.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of his decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Hugh J. Gillespie of the Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania Law Offices of Lester G. Weinraub for bringing this case to my attention.

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