Paralyzed Skier Wins $14 Million Judgment

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Publish Date

04/11/2007

SAM Magazine-Kent, Wash., Apr. 11, 2007-A skier, Kenny Salvini, was awarded $14 million last week as the result of becoming paralyzed after he outjumped the landing on a tabletop feature and crashed in the terrain park at The Summit at Snoqualmie. The incident took place Feb. 11, 2004, at 8:30 p.m.

A jury found that the operator, Ski Lifts Inc., was partially responsible for the crash (the $14 million was the resort's share of a total judgment for $31 million). During the trial, engineers and an aeronautics professor from the University of California, Davis, testified for the plaintiff that the jump was improperly designed and had a short landing area. Evidence presented by the defense at the trial, though, showed that Salvini flew approximately 110 feet through the air and outjumped the landing. He reverse-rotated, landing on his neck and causing his injuries.

Salvini's attorney argued that the construction of the jump had been eyeballed by a park builder operating a snowcat, and was therefore not properly engineered and designed. In addition, 14 other skiers and snowboarders had sustained minor injuries by outjumping the landing on that feature earlier that season, and another suffered a broken back. However, those figures are out of more than 200,000 estimated takeoffs on the feature, including two by Salvini the previous week. Industry experts at the trial testified that the building of the jump was consistent with best practices in the industry.

Guy Lawrence, a spokesman for The Summit at Snoqualmie, said officials were "disappointed but respectful" of the jury verdict.

In a statement, Ski Lifts Inc. said, "The Summit at Snoqualmie's number one priority has always been, and continues to be, the safety of our guests and employees. The Summit has twice been awarded the National Award of Excellence for Skier Safety by the National Ski Areas Association in recognition of its industry-leading safety programs.

"Our terrain park staff always considers safety as their first and most important goal. This concern for safety drives all of our operations."

Salvini, who had been captain of the wrestling team at Central Washington University, is now a quadriplegic. His medical costs are projected to total $23 million to $26 million over his lifetime.

Ski Lifts Inc. is preparing an appeal of the ruling.

Comments

Wow

I can't believe this is happening; it's a joke what you can sue over these days. I ride at snoqualmie, and I remember the jump in question, as well as the crash, or what I heard of it. Just a rumor, but apparently kenny was trying to clear both the jump he was hitting, and another one probably 50 ft past the landing of the first. No wonder he came up short. Nonetheless, the deck of the jump in question never got longer than 15 or 20 ft, so shooting another 35 past that is rediculous, and totally the fault of Kenny's. Sorry buddy

Bob

So with this verdict in hand. Is there anyone out there that is smart enough to realize that history repeats itself? Artificially creating hazards? Natural hazards almost tanked this industry once already in the 80's. Many ski areas don't exist anymore because of that episode. So here we are again. Why?

the end?

This may make the end of parks as we know them. The insurance companies have been putting up with them, but just wait, we may see special premium assesments for those operations that insist on big hits, which in balance with operational & maintenance costs may make the whole enterprise cost prohibitive.

SMART STYLE

SMART STYLE, those signs or everywhere. Look before you leap, how hard is that. Yes a tragedy but the real fault is the parents. probably some lower class parents that were to stupid to show their kid the ropes. If your kid is 12 and riding by him self you should've made sure that he knows a few things. I've been on the hill since I was 2 and my dad made sure that I knew what I was doing before he let me lose. I've had many injuries. I've broken both arms a leg and I have three herniated disks in my back. I am in pain every day, every day but this is all the constituencies of my actions. I know every day when I put my boots on that something could happen.
Bottom line if you cant deal with the constituencies then PLAY AMPED

Bob

That was Scott Schmidt not Plake. It an era before jib parks. After Sunday vs. Stratton

V.P. of Operations

Although a tragedy, it is even a bigger tragedy that a jury awarded $31M. Skiing/boarding carries risks. I wish the company the best of luck during the appeal process.

take your chances

You hit your jump, you take your chances. I pray for the day when both individuals and the courts recognize this. The individual in the story is tragically injured - due to his own ineptitude, not the resort's. Skiing is dangerous. If you can't hack the risk, don't ski. In the immortal words of Glen Plake, "People who sue ski areas should be shot."

Bob

Things go full circle. Remember the freestyle craze of the 70's with all those cool inverts? What killed it? Sunday vs Stratton. This is just old news repackaged. I remember a day when getting airborn at some areas cost you your pass. Anyone that couldn't see this one coming with the advent of terrain parks was totaly blind.

no good

put the professor on some skis and his proprely made jump i bet u any $ he gets broken off also

sad but true

ive worked in the ski bizz for 12 yrs. and this is the first that ive ever heard of anything like this! ive been on many codes similar to this one. as far as i always knew u should be held accountable for your own actions. no one made this person hit that jump or made him drive to the mountian that day!!! ive personally have over jump landings before and have injured my back also but ive never blamed anyone but myself for haveing to much speed and over shooting. for every t.park at every mtn. get the waiver & park passes out cause no one should be held accoutable for some one eles worng doing!!!

TPC

I'm not calling Kenny Salvini a bitch, it sucks to hear about his injury. However i am calling the ski industries responce very bitch like. I work for a nameless evil ski company that in response to Salvini's settlement has discontinued all terrain park jumps. Why don't we outlaw monguls while we are at it? This is bullshit and will is ruining the industry.

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