Gag order denied in Beaver Creek collision lawsuit
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado ” A judge has denied a request to ban the parents of an 8-year-old boy being sued in a ski collision from talking to the media, according to a court document.
Attorneys for David Pfahler, 60, had asked U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. Watanabe to issue a gag order against 8-year-old Scott Swimm’s parents, of Eagle-Vail.
If the gag order had been issued, the Swimms would not have been able to speak with the media ” or to anyone who would speak with the media ” about the case.
Pfahler alleges that Scott ran into him from behind last January while skiing at Arrowhead Mountain. Pfahler tore a tendon in his shoulder in the accident and is suing for physical therapy expenses, lost vacation time and other expenses, according to the lawsuit.
A “small” number of newspaper articles and Internet postings have been written about the case, and there is no evidence that potential jurors “will be or have been affected” by them, Watanabe wrote.
“Both sides have had some contact with the press concerning this case and have made comments concerning this case,” Watanabe wrote.
However, if the court decides to change the location of a potential jury trial due to publicity by the Swimms, Pfahler or their attorneys, the court may consider “imposing appropriate sanctions at that time,” Watanabe wrote.
After the Swimms commented to the media about the lawsuit, Pfahler and his wife were subjected to “an electronic tar and feathering,” attorneys wrote.
Pfahler’s attorneys have said that Pfahler received threatening telephone calls and e-mail messages, and were forced to leave their Allentown, Pa., home in December to escape the harassment.
Pfahler’s attorneys have also received threats by e-mail and phone, the gag order motion said.
“The defendant’s media disclosures have created such substantial negative media coverage concerning the plaintiffs and their claims that the plaintiffs will be unable to have a fair trial,” said the motion filed by Pfahler’s attorneys.
The Swimms said Scott was skiing slowly and that the collision was not violent. Scott’s father, Robb Swimm, reported that Pfahler “cut in front of my son (and) he was unable to stop in time.”
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.