This week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in Robinette v. Aspen Skiing Co., L.L.C. 2010 WL 258273 (10th Cir. Jan. 25, 2010), affirmed a district court's enforcement of an exculpatory clause, resulting in the dismissal of a claim for personal injury arising out of a snowboarder's collision with a snowmobile operated by an Aspen employee.
The plaintiff had argued that the the exculpatory clause was "unenforceable because: (1) it purports to cover reckless conduct; (2) it violates public policy; and (3) its terms are unclear and ambiguous." The Appeals Court rejected these arguments, and also found that because the plaintiff had not raised a claim of recklessness in the trial court, he cannot raise such a claim on appeal.
A copy of the District Court's April 23, 2009 order, affirmed by the Tenth Circuit, can be viewed here. The facts set forth in the District Court opinion are as follows:
On February 24, 2006, Mr. Robinette was snowboarding at Snowmass Ski Resort, a property owned and operated by Aspen. He approached a small incline on the trail, intending to perform a jump. Unbeknownst to Mr. Robinette, an Aspen employee, Eric Hill, was driving a snowmobile uphill on the other side of the incline. Mr. Robinette and Mr. Hill collided. Mr. Robinette sustained serious injuries as a result.
Robinette v. Aspen Skiing Co., L.L.C 2009 WL 1108093, 1 (D.Colo.,2009).
The Tenth Circuit, in affirming the enforceability of such an exculpatory clause, joins a recent Eighth Circuit decision which also enforced a skier's exculpatory clause. You may read more about the Eighth Circuit decision here.