An Appeals Court Allows For Another Bogus Lawsuit Against A Mountain In British Columbia -- Ski Rex Says...

I would like to start this article off by saying this is strictly an opinion piece. While there is a story here, I'm not going to get into doing my own write up about it. I will give overviews as I write this article, but I won't be doing an article on the story itself. However, following this paragraph will be an article on the story from Peace Arch News. Take a moment and read through that for more details, then continue through my article, and in the end, we can come together and see what we think.

Snowboarder paralyzed from fall at Grouse Mountain wins appeal to sue - Peace Arch News

Grouse Mountain ski resort in North Vancouver. (Pixabay photo) Jason Apps suffered a fall, rendering him a quadriplegic, in March 2016 An Australian man who suffered life-altering injuries after a fall in Grouse Mountain's snowboard park has been granted the right to sue the mountain by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
For those that did not read that article linked above, the story is about an Australian man that got hurt while snowboarding in a terrain park at Grouse Mountain in British Columbia, Canada. The B.C. Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit from the man, Jason Apps. However, the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned that decision based on the idea that the mountain was negligent in its warnings of the dangers of the sport.

For those that know me or that follow Ski Rex Media, you know that I take these stories very seriously and, in part, personally. That is because I know the dangers and the risks involved with skiing and snowboarding. The reason the case has me extra upset is that not only did the mountain give notice about the dangers of the sport, but the person trying to bring the lawsuit against the mountain knew of the dangers.

Mr. Apps has claimed that the mountain was negligent in how it designed the terrain park in which his accident happened and was in breach of the Occupier's Liability Act, something that I am not totally familiar with, but as I understand it speaks to what a landowner can be held liable for when it comes to the safety of those using the land. He also alleges that the mountain failed to warn of the risk of serious injury on the waiver on the back of the ticket, which is something we are all familiar with.

I will start with the idea that the mountain was negligent in how the park was built. As I have stated before, these mountains work very hard to make sure they are not liable for anything. With that said, we also know that these parks are built and maintained by professionals, so the likelihood of negligence is minimal. We also know this is true because, unless the defendant or possible defendant has witnesses to the contrary, others were using that park that day and came out of it alright, or at least have not made the same claim. If there have been others that have made the same claim, then there could be a case here, maybe. The fact still remains that with park riding comes a lot of danger and unless this was Apps first time in a park, he knew that. Even if it was his first time in a park, he would still know that. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that unless this person was living under a rock, he knew the risk. But, let's move past my opinion on that for a moment.

Let's move onto what was written on the back of the ticket. It's the standard waiver we have all seen saying skiing and snowboarding are dangerous and being out in nature can add to that danger. It's really not that hard to understand and even if you've just seen skiing or snowboarding on television, you know that it's dangerous. But, the ticket waiver is only part of this case. The court of appeal made note that the waiver posted at the ticket booth should be taken into question as they found it to be "difficult to read", among other issues. I don't know what those other issues might have been, but it can be safely assumed that the posted waiver said that same thing as the ticket waiver. However, even though the judge that dismissed the original case concluded that the waiver was sufficient along with adequate signage to say that the terrain park area is dangerous, the court of appeal said that is wrong.

Personally, that leads me to believe that the court of appeal judges either don't ski or snowboard or having something against the mountains for whatever reason they may have. Again, we have all seen the ticket waiver. We have all seen the park signs. We have all seen what can happen to a person if a mistake is made, as in, we have seen how dangerous it can be. We know it and I can only conclude that Mr. Apps knew it as well. It's actually odd that the court of appeal didn't agree that Mr. Apps knew the risks.

The original judge, when making their decision on the original case, said that as an employee of Whistler, that Mr. Apps would have been aware of the risks involved. That's right! The defendant/victim, in this case, worked for a ski mountain. Not just any mountain, either. He worked for one of the largest mountains on the continent, also in British Columbia, Canada. The court of appeal said that it was completely irrelevant.

“I do not think the fact that Mr. Apps had some previous awareness that when he signed an agreement at Whistler, he was waiving legal rights of some sort, can satisfy that obligation in this case,” the decision reads.

How, in a Canadian or American courtroom can that fact be looked at as irrelevant? I can say that even those that don't ski or snowboard but work at a ski mountain, know the risks. They know the dangers. I know this because I know them. There were more than a few employees that I worked with at a ski mountain that didn't participate in the sport, but still knew that a person could get seriously hurt or die on that mountain.

I know that Mr. Apps knew the dangers. He has no lawsuit based that on at all. We have all seen the same waiver and posted signage. He had seen the waivers and posted signage. He knew the risk. I have zero doubt about that.

As for negligence in the park's design, he might have a point. Though, I would really like to see how he defines that and what exactly he meant by it. I'm willing to stand up and say that I'm 100% wrong about Mr. Apps not having a lawsuit, depending on how he proves that the terrain park had a negligent design. But, as I said, it's hard to believe since these parks are designed and maintained by professionals using pro techniques and equipment. Having said that, accidents can happen and as I said if he can prove that, then so be it. I take back everything I wrote prior to this. But, to me, the burden of proof is on him.

Now, I don't want you to think I am heartless. Trust me, I really do feel for the guy. Having been rendered a quadriplegic, his life has changed in a way that I can't understand beyond his most basic logistical needs. I am fully mobile, so I can never know exactly what he is going through, nor can I speak to it all that much. But I can say that the responsibility for the actions that led to him becoming disabled are his alone.

It's the responsibility of actions that really is at the core of these lawsuits that I keep talking about. We, as a people, continue to look for ways to remove the responsibility, and the consequence, in some cases. We have brought about a group of people who think nothing is their fault or find that they have something to gain if they can make others think it isn't or wasn't their own fault. We also see this in more than just skiing and snowboarding lawsuits. This idea can be seen in a lot of places and, in the end, it's going to do more harm than good.

In the end, if these types of lawsuits are allowed to continue, if the people who know the dangers of the sport continue to blame those who aren't at fault, this will be the death of our industry.

Thumbnail Credit: Grouse Mountain Resort/FB


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