Fleury, Salyndra v. Intrawest Winter Park Operations Corporation, case number: 2012CV132.
MAY 14, 2012, DENVER, COLORADO – Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh and Jardine, P.C. has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the operators of Colorado’s Winter Park Ski Resort on behalf of the family of a man killed in an avalanche. Christopher Norris, father of two young children from Evergreen, Colorado, died as a result of being caught in an avalanche while skiing the Trestle Trees area of the Winter Park resort on January 22, 2012.
A lawsuit filed against Intrawest Winter Park Operations Corporation, the company which runs and manages Winter Park Ski Resort, alleges that despite detailed warnings issued by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, employees at the Winter Park resort failed to take action necessary to prevent Mr. Norris from entering an area susceptible to avalanches and unsafe for skiing.
James G. Heckbert, attorney for Mr. Norris’s family, said, “Christopher Norris became only the second skier since May 2005 to die while skiing on an open trail of a Colorado ski area, and we believe that his death was an avoidable tragedy.”
Mr. Heckbert continued, “On the morning of January 22, 2012, an alert was issued for Colorado’s Front Range region, warning that north facing slopes with a 30-degree incline (similar to those found in the Trestle Trees area of Winter Park) were at the greatest risk of an avalanche. In addition, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center advised skiers to ‘enjoy the powder, but only in the safety of ski areas’. Despite these warnings, Winter Park Ski Resort not only failed to warn people of the avalanche hazard, but also failed to close potentially unsafe areas of their resort to skiers.”
The circumstance surrounding Mr. Norris’s death also draws attention to the important issue of damage caps in lawsuits against ski areas. Mr. Heckbert explains, “It is our assertion that Chris Norris died because Winter Park did not want to close down a dangerous area of the mountain. So severe are damages caps in ski area liability cases, it becomes a business decision to keep the dangerous terrain open, as there is little cost to the ski area if someone dies in an avalanche.”
As of May 2012, Colorado caps the amount of non-economic damages in a ski area liability suit at $250,000. Michael S. Burg, Burg Simpson founding shareholder said, “Everyone, including ski corporations needs to be accountable and be held responsible for their negligent acts. Half or a quarter of justice (compensation) is justice denied. When we do not hold these entities fully accountable, the remainder of the care needed falls on the taxpayer, not the company responsible for the injuries.” The case is filed in Grand County Colorado. Burg Simpson attorneys, James G. Heckbert, Peter W. Burg, and Seth A. Katz represent Mr. Norris’s surviving spouse and two young children. The case is Fleury, Salyndra v. Intrawest Winter Park Operations Corporation, case number: 2012CV132.
With offices in Denver, Cincinnati, Cody, Phoenix, and Steamboat Springs, Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. is a firm of award-winning national trial lawyers, practicing in the areas of personal injury, class action, medical malpractice, dangerous drug litigation, defective products, insurance bad faith, employment law, social security, workers’ compensation, commercial and securities litigation.
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James G. Heckbert