No fault in ski collision case
August 30, 2014
EAGLE — A ski instructor was injured in a collision on Beaver Creek mountain, but the jury said the defendant in a civil trial was not liable for those injuries.
Dan Sheffield, a retired Denver attorney and Beaver Creek ski instructor, sued a Mexico City family for injuries he said he suffered in a collision with their 13-year-old son.
However, during testimony in their civil trial last week, the teen claimed that Sheffield hit him.
"He was barely moving, if he was moving at all," said Dave Helmer, Sheffield's attorney. "Getting hit by someone is not an inherent risk of skiing."
The six-person jury agreed that Sheffield had been injured, but it was not the teen's fault.
Sheffield had asked for a year's income in his lawsuit.
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The collision occurred Dec. 13, 2010, as Sheffield was making his way under the Cinch lift near Spruce Saddle. Sheffield was hit from behind on the left side, suffering a broken shoulder and other injuries.
"The doctor called it pieces of corn flakes, and later Rice Krispies," Helmer said. "He essentially lost one whole year of his life, lying in bed, living in a wheelchair."
Carter Vaden, the attorney representing the teen and his family, said it was an accident. He said there was nothing wrong with the way the teen and his friend were skiing.
"Accidents happen. I've heard it a number of times because it's true. Accidents especially happen in skiing," Vaden said. "They're trying to say it was their bad skiing that caused the accident."
Vaden argued that his client and his friend were the only ones who know how they were skiing.
"Both of them say he was skiing perfectly safely. The plaintiff would have you believe both of them are liars," Vaden told the jury. "Your job today is a very, very simple one. To determine if they are liars."
The teen and his family live in Mexico City. They have a condo in Beaver Creek.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.