Wrongful death lawsuit targets Silverton Avalanche School, guide, airbag maker
The family of a Longmont man killed in an avalanche safety class near Silverton is suing the guide, school and local rescue group as well as the maker of an avalanche airbag and its private equity firm owner. The lawsuit marks the second legal action involving avalanches in recent months based on research, interviews and reports gathered by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
The complex, 68-page wrongful death lawsuit filed by the wife and daughter of Peter Marshall in Boulder County District Court accuses Silverton Avalanche School, San Juan County Search and Rescue and guide Zachary Lovell with a litany of failures, fraud, misrepresentation, negligence and consumer protection law violations related to the avalanche that killed 40-year-old Marshall on Jan. 5, 2019, in Upper Senator Beck Basin.
The lawsuit also charges Boulder-based Backcountry Access with making a defective Float 32 avalanche airbag, which the lawsuit says did not inflate after Marshall “attempted to trigger” the balloon-like backpack. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report on the avalanche noted that Marshall’s airbag backpack “was functioning properly, the trigger out of the pack strap, but the bag was not deployed.” It’s unclear how the Marshall family concluded Peter Marshall had attempted to trigger the airbag.
The Marshall family’s lawsuit also names Kohlberg & Company, the private equity firm that acquired Backcountry Access and its parent company, K2 Sports, in 2017.
“The defendants, each of them, acted willfully, wantonly, and recklessly, without regard for the consequences or the rights and safety of Peter Marshall or of others,” reads the lawsuit, which argues the school, guide and airbag maker “created substantial and unreasonable risks of serious injury and death to participants” in the safety class. “Defendants were grossly negligent and that gross negligence was a cause of the injuries, damages, and losses suffered by plaintiffs and the heirs of Peter Marshall.”
Read more from Jason Blevins, Colorado Sun.
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