The family of a Colorado man killed in an avalanche during a Level 2 avalanche education class is suing the school which sponsored the class he in which he was participating. Also named in the suit were BCA, the maker of the airbag used by the skier, the guide and San Juan County Search and Rescue.
The avalanche occurred near Red Mountain Pass in Colorado on January 5, 2019. It was triggered by the guide leading the case. It caught the guide and several other skiers in the class, reportedly.
Conditions as the time were listed as “considerable” for avalanche danger. There had been numerous recorded warnings for such an event happening in the area in the preceding days.
In investigation after the incident faulted the guide leading the case with a several critical failures. Significantly, the investigation noted that the group should not have been skiing together on a slope steep enough to slide under the conditions.
This case will be a very interesting one to watch. The claims are a range of negligence, gross negligence, consumer protection and product liability. There will certainly be legal issues surrounding the liability waivers. In Washington State, similar to Colorado, liability waivers are generally not enforceable for gross negligence. I expect there will be issues of assumption of risk and contributory negligence as well. Should the case get to trial, I will be interested to see how a jury responds to the facts presented in this case. I suspect a jury will hold the guide and avalanche school to a high standard of care.
You can read more about this case in the Durango Herald:
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