Can You Sue Mother Nature for Snowing Too Much? These Crazy Americans Are Trying…

Judge Judy's got nothing on any of these ridiculous cases...

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Snowboarding and skiing, like most action sports, come with an inherent sense of danger, and possibility of injury. But fuck it, that’s half the appeal right? That base thrill of narrowly avoiding harm.

Sadly, the high-risk cat slipped out the bag a while back opportunistic lawyers and ambulance chasing charlatans came sniffing around snowsports. These days, hooning around on snow and legal action pretty much go hand in hand.

Just check out these crazy law suits made by or against snowboarders and skiers for proof. Do any of these people have a point?

1) The Snowboarders V The Ski-Only Resort

no snowboarders

Four snowboarders, collectively calling themselves Wasatch Equality, have begun an action to sue the Alta Ski Resort in Colorado.

Alta is one of only three ski resorts in the whole of the United States that still forbid snowboarding. Mad River Glen and Deer Valley are the other two.

“It’s based on irrational discrimination against snowboarders”

The group claim that the skiers only policy breaches the 4th amendment to the US Constitution, ensuring equality for all.

Getting properly Judge Judy about things, legal representatives for the crew claim that the ban on snowboarding serves to “[exclude a] particular class of individuals from use and enjoyment of public land based on irrational discrimination against snowboarders”.

This is a case that will no doubt be divisive, with a lot of people out there still clinging on to the whole Skiers V Snowboarders thing. Time will tell how this fares in court, and gives us an indication as to how equal the two sports are in the eyes of the law.

2) The Gulible Skiers V The Ad Men

In 2009 a couple tried to sue the Snowshoe ski resort in West Virginia, claiming that the resort’s marketing was simply too effective.

The resorts ads entice people in, promising “The Western Territory, with 1500 feet of steeps to conquer, is where adrenaline junkies head to get their fix… Are you up to the challenge?”.

The husband promptly visited the resort for a bit of on-slope action and suffered injuries following an accident. Clutching at a truly minimal number of straws (rather than just cursing his luck) he claimed that adverts for the resort had enticed him onto hazardous terrain.

PHOTO: STEVE ESTVANIK / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
PHOTO: STEVE ESTVANIK / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

The claim made by the husband was for loss of enjoyment of life, income and benefits, earning capacity, medical expenses, scarring and humiliation and embarrassment.

His wife also claimed against the resort for “compensation for loss of consortium”. Nope, we have no idea what it means, either.

We don’t know the outcome of the case was, but we’re preparing a claim against the manufacturers of quick drying wood stain, for doing exactly what it says on the tin.

3) The Resort V Mother Nature

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Jay Peak Resort in Vermont in the United States has brought an action against Mother Nature herself. They’re suing nature for the “intentional infliction of emotional distress resulting from Nature’s deliberate and purposeful disregard for the mental and emotional well-being of the employees and owners of Jay Peak Inc and its associated holdings.”

“They’re suing Mother Nature herself.”

We have to say, the whole thing kind of smells of a publicity stunt, rather than a serious attempt to seek restitution from Mother Nature. The fact that part of the claim against nature has caused the resort to remain “100% open beyond what is normally seasonally acceptable” rather points to a bit of clever marketing by the owners.

4) The Skier V Scotland

It’s not just our cousins across the Atlantic who’re beating a path to court room. Earlier this year, a 51 year old man from Edinburgh brought a £500,000 action against the Cairngorm resort in Scotland after an incident that left him with one leg 3cm shorter than the other.

You wouldn't catch Jamie Nicholls suing Cairngorm. Photo: Tristan
You wouldn’t catch Jamie Nicholls suing Cairngorm Mountain. Photo: Tristan

While this injury is no doubt significant, the claim has been thrown into some dispute as the claimant’s own friends have said that on the day it happened the light was flat, making conditions difficult and even suggests that the accident occurred when the skier clipped a fence.

The terms of use on the Cairngorm’s website states that “Cairngorm Mountain accepts no responsibility for injury, loss or damage unless as a direct result of its negligence” which rather suggest that the claimant may not have a leg to stand on in court. Badum tish.

5) Canada V Whistler

The entire Canadian Government has tried to sue the owners of the Blackcomb resort in Whistler, British Columbia. The case was sparked back in 2008 when snowboarder Amanda Yan caught an edge on a rough section of piste.

The fall caused her to fall over a cliff and suffer a brain injury, two dislocated vertebrae, a broken right femur, a broken right wrist and finally suffer lung and kidney damage.

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Aside from the severity of the injuries, what makes this case stand out from the many other injury claims is that the government is filing not just for the costs of all the injuries that its health service has had to deal with, but also for all future injuries.

It doesn’t take a fully qualified lawyer to realise that amount of money is potentially infinite. Man, why didn’t we think of that!?

6) Skiers & Snowboarders V Each Other

With all of this legal action flying around, ski resorts are lawyering-up in a bid to protect themselves from court cases. While understandable, this now means that skiers and snowboarders are starting to sue each other.

Earlier this year, following a collision between two skiers in Oregon, Ward Smith brought a claim for a staggering $1.4 million against Victor Desimone. While only time will tell what the outcome of this case will be, it has the potential to set a worrying precedent

If legal action between individuals takes off, the powers that be may deem winter sports simply too dangerous for people to take part in. All but the most sedate nursery runs could be closed off for fear of injury leading to legal costs for individuals and, ultimately, insurers.

If that happens, that thrilling sense of danger that keeps us addicted to the slopes will be gone, and that’s a very sad thing indeed.

You may also like:

Skiing Vs. Snowboarding: Which is More Dangerous?

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