City of Steamboat Springs pays $1,000 deductible related to skier death lawsuit
Howelsen Hill insurance costs
2014-2015: renews in October
Source: city of Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs — To settle the wrongful death lawsuit of Ryan v. Steamboat Springs, the city only had to pay an insurance deductible of $1,000.
The city has an insurance policy specifically for Howelsen Hill in addition to its general policy with the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency.
That policy, through Safehold Special Risk Inc. (formerly known as Wells Fargo Special Risks Inc.), covers all other expenses related to the lawsuit, including attorney’s fees and the settlement amount of $150,000.
“After the payment by the city of the deductible amount, the city bears no further financial exposure,” city attorney Tony Lettunich wrote in an email.
The insurance company is responsible for decisions about the defense and settlement related to claims, Lettunich wrote, but the company did communicate with the city during the process.
Maureen Ryan sued the city of Steamboat Springs after her son, Cooper Larsh, died while skiing at Howelsen Hill in 2011.
Since the ski season during which Larsh died, the city’s costs for its Howelsen Hill-specific insurance policy have increased. In the 2010-11 season, the yearly cost was $20,666. This past season the cost was $23,151. The cost for the upcoming season will be determined when the policy renews in October.
The deductible also increased to $2,500 during the 2012-2013 season.
The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act typically protects government entities such as the city from tort, or personal injury, lawsuits except in cases where action on the government’s part waives immunity.
Before her wrongful death lawsuit could go forward, Ryan had to prove the city of Steamboat Springs had waived its governmental immunity, and in January 2013, 14th Judicial District Court Judge Shelley Hill found in favor of Ryan and denied the city’s request to dismiss the suit.
The city appealed Hill’s ruling to the Colorado Court of Appeals but lost again. The city did not appeal the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court and settled with Ryan on Friday, more than 2 1/2 years after she filed the lawsuit.
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