Thursday, March 5, 2020

Summary Judgment Granted in Snow Tubing Case Based on No-Duty Rule


In the case of Hamber v. CBH2O, LP t/a Camelback Mountain Resort, No. 8778-CV-2017 (C.P. Monroe Co. Jan. 9, 2020 Harlacher Sibum, J.), the court granted the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissed the Complaint with prejudiced in a case involving allegations of injuries allegedly sustained by the Plaintiff while snowtubing at Camelback Mountain Resort.

The Plaintiff alleged that, while nearing the end of a snow tube run, his tube came into contact with a deceleration mat and became airborne, causing the Plaintiff to be ejected from the snow tube and to land on his neck in an adjacent snow tubing lane. The Plaintiff alleges that the accident was caused by the improper placement of the deceleration mat.

The court ruled that the use of a deceleration mat was directly related and inherent to the sport of snow tubing as it would be a common, frequent and expected part of the activity to encounter some decelerating agent at the end of the run.

Given that contact with the deceleration mat was an inherent part of the snow tubing activity, and given that the risk of being thrown from the snow tube as an inherent part of snow tubing, the court held that the Defendant had no duty to protect the Plaintiff under Pennsylvania law from contact with the deceleration mat or the general risk of being thrown from the tube.

As such, the court found that the Plaintiff’s negligent claim was barred under the “no-duty” doctrine.

Judge Harlacher Sibum more specifically stated that, under Pennsylvania law, “the assumption of risk defense, as applied to sports and places of amusement, has also been described as a ‘no-duty’ rule, i.e., as the principle that an owner or operator of a place of amusement has no duty to protect the user from any hazards inherent in the activity.” In this regard, the court quoted the case of Chepkevich v. Hidden Valley Resort, LP., 2 A.3d 1174, 1186 (Pa. 2010).

The court further stated, again citing Chepkevich, that “where there is no duty, there can be no negligence, and thus when inherent risks are involved, negligence principles are irrelevant… and there can be no recovery based on allegations of negligence.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Feb. 5, 2020).

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