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Soderberg v. Anderson

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

January 16, 2018

Julie A. Soderberg, Appellant,
v.
Lucas Anderson, Respondent

         St. Louis County District Court File No. 69DU-CV-16-2632

          Wilbur W. Fluegel, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and James W. Balmer, Duluth, Minnesota (for appellant).

          Nathan T. Cariveau, Eden Prairie, Minnesota (for respondent).

          Considered and decided by Rodenberg, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Reilly, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         I. Primary assumption of the risk does not, as a matter of law, bar a claim for personal injury arising out of a skiing or snowboarding collision when a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether a skier or snowboarder's conduct is so reckless or inept as to be wholly unanticipated.

         II. Primary assumption of the risk does not, as a matter of law, bar a claim for personal injury when a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether a skier or snowboarder enlarged the well-known, inherent risks of those activities under circumstances in which a skier is crushed from above.

          OPINION

          WORKE, Judge.

         Appellant argues that the district court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of respondent on the basis of primary assumption of the risk because genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether (1) appellant appreciated the specific risk of harm that caused her injuries and (2) appellant's actions enlarged the inherent risk of skiing. We reverse and remand.

         FACTS

         In January 2016, appellant Julie A. Soderberg was a ski instructor at Spirit Mountain in Duluth. Soderberg was an accomplished skier, with approximately 38 years of experience. On January 3, Soderberg was giving a ski lesson to a child on the Four Pipe trail, which is marked as a "slow skiing area." At the same time, respondent Lucas Anderson was snowboarding on the Scissor Bill trail, which is next to Four Pipe. Anderson had approximately 20 years of snowboarding experience. At a certain point on the hill, Scissor Bill and Four Pipe merge, with Scissor Bill continuing on "skier's left" of Four Pipe. Anderson slowed down as he merged onto the left side of Four Pipe from Scissor Bill and then increased his speed. Anderson reached an area with a hill and performed his "signature move, " a 180-degree blind turn, also known as a "backside 180." Anderson testified in his deposition that, heading into the jump, it was difficult to see the area behind the hill and agreed that for a "few seconds during the execution of the turn, " he was not looking ahead of where he was going.

         As Anderson landed, he crashed into Soderberg. Neither Anderson nor Soderberg saw each other before the impact. Soderberg testified that she suffered severe injuries, including a torn ACL, a herniated disk in her back, and a dissected carotid artery.

         In November 2016, Soderberg brought suit against Anderson, alleging that he negligently collided with her when he failed to snowboard under proper control. Anderson moved for summary ...


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