Colorado Resorts Not Liable for Inbounds Avalanches: Court

Court rules against widow of skier killed in slide

If you get caught in an avalanche on an open ski run, should the resort be held liable?

For that matter, should a resort be required to close high-risk runs on days where there are dangerous avalanche conditions, or even post a warning?

The Colorado Court of Appeals says no.

In a 2-1 panel decision, the court ruled against the widow of a man killed by a 2012 slide at the Winter Park ski area, reports the Denver Post. The opinion, by Grand County District Court Judge Mary C. Hoak, found that avalanches fall under the “inherent dangers” of skiing for which resorts can’t be held liable, according to the 1979 Colorado Ski Safety Act, which gives Colorado ski resorts a broad umbrella of protection against lawsuits.

However, one justice, Appellate Judge Jerry Jones, dissented: “It is not as if avalanches are unheard of occurrences in mountainous areas, or even on or near ski areas. And yet the General Assembly—despite formulating a lengthy definition identifying numerous specific conditions and events—did not expressly (or otherwise clearly) include avalanches.”

The decision is expected to be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Until then, be safe out there.