Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Look before you leap, snowboarders

Snowboarder Myles Bagley was 18 in 2006 when he crashed on an expert jump at the Mt. Bachelor ski resort in Bend, Ore. He was left paralyzed from the waist down.

A lawsuit he filed against the resort has now made its way to the Oregon Supreme Court. At its heart is a fundamental question: Does the waiver that snowboarders and skiers usually have to sign absolve the resort of any responsibility for accidents?

Bagley's attorneys argue that Mt. Bachelor bears a responsibility for the jump's design, which they argue was flawed, and say the resort's waiver is "unconscionable." Attorneys for the resort reply that the snowboarder must take into account the inherently risky behavior of expert jumps.

The arguments Wednesday centered on the difference between the assumed risk that skiers and snowboarders take on dangerous jumps and the responsibility of a snow park operator to make sure its jumps and moguls are safe.

Bagley sought $21.5 million in Deschutes County Circuit Court in 2008. A judge threw out the lawsuit, and the court of appeals affirmed.

Bagley's case could have broad ramifications for release agreements that must be signed in order to take part in an activity. The Oregon Legislature has made specific rules for amusement parks, which include ski lifts, but the issue of broader recreational activity has not been defined.

One of Bagley's attorneys, Kathryn Clarke, argued that the waiver is contrary to public policy, saying that it protects Mt. Bachelor from activities that people have a right to engage in.

"It's a risky sport, and Myles Bagley knew that," Clarke said. "That's what he thought he was agreeing to, assuming the risks of the sport. But that's not what happened. This was a man-made jump, and it was designed, and it was designed defectively."

Andrew C. Balyeat, an attorney for Mount Bachelor, argued that skiing and snowboarding are activities in which the participants assume risk. To propose waivers for any activity would be excessive, he said, but in some cases, risk is assumed.

"Like it or not, for those of us who love to ski and love to snowboard, it's risky, it's dangerous, it's icy," Balyeat said.

Chief Justice Thomas Balmer asked Balyeat why Bagley's situation was different from American snowboarder Shaun White's decision to withdraw from the Olympic slopestyle contest in Russia over safety concerns.

"He chose not to participate because the course was unsafe," Balmer said. "Why should the owner of a course not be liable for an unsafely designed course?"

Balyeat replied that the jump is similarly, inherently risky. "Nowhere does it say," Balyeat said, "that a mogul or a tabletop jump isn't part of the risk."

Comments
Oprah Winfrey matches Amal and George Clooney’s $500,000 to ‘March for our Lives’

Oprah Winfrey matches Amal and George Clooney’s $500,000 to ‘March for our Lives’

Oprah Winfrey has announced on Twitter that she will match the $500,000 donation from Amal and George Clooney to students organizing nationwide marches against gun violence.Her tweet said, "George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am joinin...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Sen. Baxley’s gun bill, which was controversially revived, is postponed

Sen. Baxley’s gun bill, which was controversially revived, is postponed

State Sen. Dennis Baxley's gun bill, which would allow some people to carry concealed weapons on school campuses, was postponed on Tuesday as the legislature was swarmed with student survivors of last week's shooting at a Broward County high school.T...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Parkland students come under attack for their outspokenness

Parkland students come under attack for their outspokenness

Update: Hours after this story posted, an aide to state Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, Benjamin Kelly, sent an email to Alex Leary saying: "Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen."...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Florida House rejects considering ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines

Florida House rejects considering ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines

House Republicans on Tuesday decisively blocked a move by Democrats to debate a ban on assault weapons in Florida, six days after a massacre that took 17 lives at a Broward County high school.The bill (HB 219), which would ban the sale and possession...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Florida House declares pornography a health risk

The Florida Legislature is declaring pornography a health risk
Updated: 1 hour ago
Steven Souza Jr. on Rays’ roster moves: ‘This is not a shocker’

Steven Souza Jr. on Rays’ roster moves: ‘This is not a shocker’

PORT CHARLOTTE — RF Steven Souza Jr. returned to camp Tuesday after missing four days while he went home to Seattle to attend to a family matter.When asked if everything was okay, Souza said, "Right now. We'll just leave it at that."S...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

TAMPA — More than two decades after the last bunch arrived on shore, bananas are back at Tampa’s port. More than 3,900 pallets of Chiquita bananas from Ecuador arrived last week at the new Port Logistics Refrigerated Services warehouse.It was the fir...
Updated: 1 hour ago
“External operator” is on deck to help seven troubled Hillsborough schools if they need it.

“External operator” is on deck to help seven troubled Hillsborough schools if they need it.

An Indiana-based nonprofit organization that operates charter schools has been tapped as the "external operator" that Hillsborough County might bring in to work with seven struggling schools. Phalen Leadership Academies was chosen in a competitive bi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lawsuit: hundreds of foster kids harmed by being bounced from home to home

Lawsuit: hundreds of foster kids harmed by being bounced from home to home

An international law firm and a children's advocacy group are suing the Florida Department of Children and Families for failing to provide adequate accommodation and care for foster children.Law firm Baker McKenzie and non-profit group Children's Rig...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Republican Senate candidates to debate in Indianapolis

Candidates in Indiana's raucous Republican U.S. Senate primary are set to participate in their first debate
Updated: 1 hour ago