Parents sue Vail Resorts over son's death

Oct. 15, 2012 at 3:40 PM
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VAIL, Colo., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- A Colorado judge is considering Vail Resorts' motion to have a lawsuit filed in the avalanche death of a 13-year-old boy thrown out.

The parents of Taft Conlin, Dr. Louise Ingalls and Dr. Stephen Conlin, filed the wrongful death lawsuit during the summer, alleging their son died because the resort company's negligence created an "avalanche trap" that killed him, the Vail (Colo.) Daily reported.

Vail Resorts has requested the Broomfield County District Court to toss the lawsuit, saying it complied with Colorado's Skier Safety Act and that the boy's Jan. 22 death "resulted from 'inherent dangers and risks' of skiing."

Ingalls and Conlin contend avalanches are not among skiing's inherent dangers.

"The Skier Safety Act describes conditions which the General Assembly determined are inherent dangers and risks of skiing; however, 'avalanche' is clearly not included within those conditions," their attorney Jim Heckbert wrote in his response to the motion for dismissal..

"The strict reading of the Skier Safety Act established that an avalanche is not an inherent danger of skiing within a ski area boundary," Heckbert wrote. "Moreover, the failure of the defendant to employ reasonable measures to protect skiers from the risk of an in-bounds avalanche on Jan. 22, 2012, precludes a finding that the avalanche was an inherent danger."

Vail Resorts is allowed to reply once more to Heckbert's response before the judge decides whether the case goes forward or is dismissed.

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