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SAM Magazine—Bend, Ore., July 26, 2022—A Deschutes County jury ruled in favor of POWDR-owned Mt. Bachelor in a $15 million wrongful death lawsuit on Friday.Mt bachelor The suit was brought against the resort by the father of a 24-year-old Bend snowboarder, Alfonso Braun, who suffocated and died after falling into a tree well within the resort’s boundary on March 2, 2018.

The suit alleged that Mt. Bachelor failed to adequately monitor and warn of the risks that recent heavy snowfall posed to skiers and riders. Mt. Bachelor was cleared of the lawsuit’s liability and negligence claims.

“The jury got it right,” said Brad Stanford, the attorney representing Mt. Bachelor and POWDR. “Snow immersion and tree wells are clearly inherent risks of the sport, and Mt. Bachelor did an excellent job of educating skiers and snowboarders about such risks,” said Stanford, adding that numerous witnesses testified to Mt. Bachelor’s “comprehensive effort to bring attention to the risks of deep snow.”

“We are hopeful that this result will benefit the industry and deter similar cases in the future,” continued Stanford, who is a member of the Association of Ski Defense Attorneys.

A second suit by the father of skier Nicole Panet-Raymond, 19, who died in a tree well within the Mt. Bachelor boundary the same day as Braun, is still pending. The two cases were filed as a joint wrongful death suit in February 2020 but separated last year.

Oregon courts have not always been friendly to inherent risk cases. “Oregon’s liability waiver standard is extreme and out of balance,” said Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association (PNSAA) president Jordan Elliott, who has worked with several other organizations to form the group Protect Oregon Recreation to lobby for the addition of inherent risk protection to Oregon law.

Regarding the Friday finding in the wrongful death suit, said Elliott, “It is significant that citizens from within the same jurisdiction where this tragic event took place came to the verdict they did. … This jury of peers affirmed that Oregonian’s do differentiate between personal responsibility and provider responsibility when they choose to do inherently risky activities.”

“The finding is in line with what the thousands of Oregonians who support the Protect Oregon Recreation collation believe,” he added. “Although the 2023 legislative session is now over, the coalition is actively working with legislators to continue the important dialogue about how our out-of-balance liability laws impact Oregonians.”