Mediation was unsuccessful in a lawsuit that claims Snow King Mountain Resort was negligent in a 2017 pond skim accident that injured a teenage skier.
In an online hearing late last week in Teton County District Court, attorneys for Wyatt Doyle, 18, and attorneys for Snow King argued about the definition of a “rowdy train” and the involvement or lack of involvement Snow King had in the pond skim event.
The complaint was brought by Doug and Elizabeth Doyle on behalf of their son.
In past documents their son was referred to as “WDD” because he was a minor. Now that he’s 18 he’s called by name in court documents and in court proceedings.
In their complaint the Doyles say their son was severely and permanently injured as a result of the condition of Snow King’s premises and its negligence in designing, creating and conducting a pond skim event.
Wyatt Doyle was hurt during a March 2017 pond skim, a popular spring event at mountain resorts that consists of skiers descending a run and using momentum to skim over a man-made pond of melted snow.
There hasn’t been a pond skim event at Snow King since the accident.
Doyle had wrapped up a Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club race and went to the event with friends.
He skied successfully across the pond a few times when one of his friends called for a “rowdy train,” which is when they all ski down together. One of the skiers caught Doyles’ left leg as he tried to exit the pond, cutting the skin and severing muscle, tendon and nerves. The lawsuit says Doyle now suffers from “drop foot.”
“They advertised an event,” Doyle’s attorney Jerry Bosch said at the hearing. “Prizes for best crash, best skim, best costume. Special Olympics kids did this event to start out the day. They knew some of the Ski Club kids would be coming over to use this.”
Snow King, through attorney Jim Lubing, maintains it isn’t liable for the accident and argues that pond skimming is a high-risk activity.
Judge Timothy Day set discovery deadlines for July with a fall trial, though the proceedings could look very different because of COVID-19. Courts have been holding all hearings online and will be adjusting plans for jury trials as they come up.
“I don’t think any District Court judges are holding jury trials before August,” Day said. “If we are under these precautionary conditions in a trial we would have to observe social distancing and wear masks, including the judge.”
Day told the attorneys to prepare to select a jury remotely, though he said things could change before then.
“They have had a successful remote jury trial in Texas,” Day said. “I just want to throw those things out for you to consider.”