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Bennett v. Hidden Valley Golf and Ski

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Bennett (plaintiff) brought suit against Hidden Valley Golf and Ski (defendant) for negligence.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    In order for the plaintiff to assume the risk it is not required they have actual knowledge of the risk they are assuming.

    Facts.

    Plaintiff went skiing late one night at the defendants ski slope despite the fact she had very little experience skiing. While going down the slope she fell forward 5 feet, which caused brain damage, after she hit a bump in the snow that was caused by other skiers. Plaintiff sued fro negligence arguing the defendant failed to adequately warn her of the dangers of skiing on the slope. The defendants argued that the plaintiff assumed the risk when she made the decision to go down the slope because the bump in the snow was an inherent risk that comes with skiing. The trial court instructed the jury that they should find in favor of the defendant if in fact that bump in the snow is an inherent risk that comes with skiing. After the jury found for the defendant the plaintiff argued that assumption of risk is inapplicable because she didn’t have actual knowledge of the risk the bump in the snow presented.

    Issue.

    Whether in order for a plaintiff to assume the risk it is required they have actual knowledge of the risk they are assuming?

    Held.

    No. In order for the plaintiff to assume the risk it is not required they have actual knowledge of the risk they are assuming.

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    When a plaintiff chooses to participate in a sport with inherent risks such as skiing, it is implied they consent to those risks based on their participation in that sport. When a plaintiff sues for injuries that arise from risks in an activity that contains inherent risks, the defendant may assert the assumption of risk defense. Here, when the plaintiff decided to ski and go down the slope it was implied she was assuming all the risks that come with skiing and if the bump in the snow was not created due to any fault by the defendant, assumption of risk will serve as an affirmative defense. It is irrelevant whether she had actual knowledge of the risks.


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