Jury rules for Vail Resorts in skier death case
EAGLE — A six-person jury ruled Wednesday that Vail Resorts had closed the upper Prima Cornice run on Vail Mountain’s front side before an in-bounds avalanche killed 13-year-old Taft Conlin on Jan. 22, 2012.
Taft’s parents, Dr. Louise Ingalls and Dr. Stephen Conlin, had sued the ski company for negligence, saying the company did not close the run properly and violated Colorado’s Skier Safety Act.
Doug Lovell, Vail Mountain’s chief operating officer, praised Wednesday’s verdict while expressing sadness for Taft’s family and friends.
“Vail Resorts agrees with the ruling today by jurors of the Eagle County District Court and believes this was a thoughtful and well-reasoned decision, consistent with Colorado law. Nonetheless, we are also aware of how difficult the trial has been for everyone involved, and we remain deeply saddened by the tragic events of Jan. 22, 2012, and for the family and friends of Taft Conlin,” Lovell said in a statement.
Ingalls suggested that skiers need to take care of themselves, take avalanche classes and carry gear. The same day Taft died, an in-bounds avalanche killed Christopher Norris at Winter Park ski area.
“We just wanted to make things safer,” Ingalls said. “That has been our goal since starting this six years ago. Even with today’s verdict, our efforts have already made a difference.”
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that under Colorado’s Skier Safety Act, in-bounds avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing. That narrowed Conlin’s case from wrongful death to claiming Vail Resorts was negligent when ski patrollers closed Prima Cornice’s upper gate but not the lower gate.
Ingalls and Conlin’s attorney, Jim Heckbert, said an appeal is not out of the question.
“The judge excluded a great deal of our evidence that we thought was relevant. As to whether we appeal, we’ll talk to our clients,” Heckbert said.
Read the full story at VailDaily.com.
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