I drove across Interstate 90 this afternoon. There was snow in the mountains by Exit 42. It looks like we are going to have a stellar year. Many thanks in advance to La Nina.
The snow in the mountains turned thoughts not only to skiing but also cases arising from ski accidents.
In many other states chairlift operators are considered common carriers. Common carriers under Washington law get paid to transport people from one place to another. They are held to the highest standard of care.
Ski resort owners in Washington take the position that they shouldn’t be considered common carriers. Specifically, they point to a statute that sat dormant for the last 45 years.
The statute indicates that people and businesses that run chairlifts should not be considered common carriers. However, this dormant statute has not been cited by any appellate court in the entire State of Washington for almost half a century.
It’s my opinion that the failure of any court to recognize let alone rely on this perverted (I say perverted not in a sexual sense but perverted in the fact that it contorts the common law) statute means it isn’t really the law of the land. Letting the statute sit idle for almost half a century renders it ineffective. If a law is not going to be applied and enforced, it’s no longer a law.
Ski resorts should be held to the same standards as other common carriers like taxicabs, railroads, bus companies, etc. There is no reason to provide special treatment and, in doing so, deprive skiers of the safety they deserve.