Ski Resort Lawsuit Provides Valuable Lesson To All Litigants

Product Liability
Jun 11, 2013

Lawyers can probably never over-educate their client. Sometimes a client can unwittingly harm his own case. Take for example this fella from New Jersey. He had just filed a lawsuit against a ski resort for injuries he suffered. But then in a subsequent ski season he obtained a new season pass. The pass contained a waiver of liability for all claims against Mountain Creek. By signing the waiver, the litigant not only signed away future claims, but he also signed away his pending lawsuit. This was a gift to the ski mountain: the case was swiftly dismissed and later affirmed on appeal.

I assign no fault to any of the attorneys involved. But this sure does serve as a friendly reminder that lawyers can never over educate their clients about calling the lawyer before taking any action or making any decision that could in any way be related to their lawsuit. The defense lawyer here claimed that he believed plaintiff's claims to constitute a very valuable case. It may well have been until the client signed the lawsuit away without reading what he was signing or getting some legal help before taking any action related to skiing. If he had signed up for a season pass at any other mountain, he'd still have his lawsuit.

Ski resort litigation is tough enough (I know: the team at my law firm of Schroeter Goldmark & Bender is one of only a small handful of firms in Washington State that handle ski and snowboard lawsuits). The ski industry ordinarily does a very good job of lobbying for laws that protect its industry in ways that would surprise the general public. It's too bad that this lawsuit fell to the wayside. Instead of the lawsuit leading to further ways to protect skiers, this one may have principally lead to the mountain finding yet another way to protect itself.