In Vu v. Ski Liberty Operating Corp., Civil Action No. 18-1769, 2019 WL 549393 (3d Cir. Feb. 12, 2019), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a skier severely injured at Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania. The plaintiff, an experienced skier, alleged that a snowboarder caused him to ski over over an unmarked, artificial four-foot cliff caused by the resort’s snow-making onto a pile of rocks. As a result of the fall, he suffered 21 broken ribs, a shattered hip, a fractured skull, a lacerated liver, punctures to both lungs, spinal, nerve and vision damage, and a separated shoulder.
He filed suit against the resort, arguing that it was negligent in failing to keep the slope free from unsafe conditions and failing to erect a fence or boundary marker to prevent skiers from skiing over the edge and into the large rocks below.
The appeals court held that the lawsuit was barred by the Pennsylvania Skier’s Responsibility Act, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7102(c) (“PSRA”). The PSRA “acknowledges that ‘there are inherent risks in the sport of downhill skiing,’ and, for that reason, preserves assumption of risk as a defense to negligence suits stemming from downhill skiing injuries.” Vu, 2019 WL 549393, at *2 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The court concluded that because his injuries were caused by risks inherent to downhill skiing, and because the resort had no duty to protect him against inherent risks, the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the resort was proper. Id. at *4.
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