And The Defense Wins (Again)

Matthew J. Kelly prevails….

dri, The Voice of the Defense Bar

September 4, 2013, volume 12 issue 35

On July 19, 2013, a six-member jury in Supreme Court, Dutchess County found in favor of Catamount Ski Area in a personal injury case brought by Nanci and Mark Nelson of Wappingers Falls. The trial was presided over by Hon. Maria G. Rosa. The defendant, Catamount Ski Area, was represented by DRI member Matthew J. Kelly of Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux LLP, in Albany, New York.

On January 22, 2011, Nanci Nelson was skiing at Catamount Ski Area and was injured as she exited a ski lift. She claimed that her path off the lift was blocked by three young, female snowboarders, who were lying down on the unload ramp, adjacent to the unload platform.

The plaintiffs brought suit against Catamount Ski Area, contending they were negligent in their operations of the Ski Area in general and in particular, the ski lift. The defendant, Catamount Ski Area contended that the plaintiffs had assumed the risk of downed skiers and that it was not negligent.

The plaintiff called Professor Christopher Brown of Worcester Polytechnic Institute who contended that the downed snowboarders were an obstacle and that there was ample time for the lift to be stopped to prevent any accident.

Defense counsel called Christopher Stoddard of Mountain Management of Shoreview Minnesota, who contended that the lift operated reasonably and encountering downed snowboarders is part of the assumed risk of skiing. He also maintained that there was insufficient time to stop the lift, once the plaintiff came to the unload platform.

The parties disputed the location of the downed snowboarders and there were no eye witnesses to the incident, except for the two plaintiffs. Mrs. Nelson suffered a significant left knee injury that required surgery and may require future knee replacement; she sought monetary damages. The jury deliberated for 45 minutes before deciding in favor of Catamount Ski Area.

The plaintiff was represented by Stenger, Roberts, Davis & Diamond LLP in Wappingers Falls, New York.

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION of dri.