The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that an injured skier or snow boarder has a claim for personal injury from a collision when the injuries occur from a skier or snow boarder’s conduct that is so reckless or inept as to be wholly incapacitated. The Court also ruled that a claim for personal injury is not barred when a skier or snow boarder enlarges the well-known, inherent risks of those activities under circumstances when a skier is crushed from above.
In Soderberg vs. Anderson, Case No. A17-0827, decided on January 16, 2018, the plaintiff sustained serious injuries when a snow boarder crashed into her from above after going off a jump. Neither the skier nor snow boarder saw each other before the impact. The Court ruled that, under the circumstances, the doctrine of primary assumption of risk may not bar the claims given the circumstances surrounding the collision. Primary assumption of the risk is a defense to negligence when parties voluntarily enter into a relationship in which the plaintiff assume “well-known, incidental risks.” Id. Primary assumption of the risk is typically applied in cases involving inherently dangerous sporting activities. Id. This applies when a person who voluntarily takes a risk (1) knows of the risk, (2) appreciates the risk, and (3) has a chance to avoid the risk. Id. This often includes activities such as skiing and snow boarding.
In light of the question of whether the snow boarder was so reckless or inept to be incapacitated, or had enlarged the well-know, inherent risks of skiing by the skier being crushed from above, the claim could proceed. The Court reversed the St. Louis County District Court which had dismissed the case by summary judgment.