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Ski Slope Not Liable for Teen's Paralysis

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on June 21, 2012 9:03 AM

Owners of a Connecticut ski slope cannot be held liable in a ski injury lawsuit that sought damages for a teenager's paralysis, a state appellate court has ruled.

James Malaguit of Brewster, N.Y., was hurt in a ski jump accident at New Hartford, Conn.'s Ski Sundown in 2006, when he was 15. Malaguit suffered spinal cord injuries and is now a quadriplegic, the local Republican American reports.

Malaguit sued Ski Sundown Inc., but lost his lawsuit in 2010. The paralyzed man appealed the jury's verdict, but a court let it stand, agreeing that Malaguit was at least partly to blame.

James Malaguit's ski injury lawsuit alleged Ski Sundown Inc. was negligent in building and maintaining the Connecticut snow jump, the Associated Press reports.

Jurors, however, sided with Ski Sundown, which argued Malaguit assumed the risk of injury. That's a common defense against negligence, when an injury victim knows of the risks involved in a dangerous activity and chooses to engage in the activity anyway.

Lawyers for Ski Sundown also argued Malaguit's own negligence caused his injuries, according to the AP.

Under Connecticut law, a jury award can be reduced if an injury victim's own negligence contributed to the accident. But if a victim's negligence is greater than the combined negligence of all the defendants, the victim is barred from receiving any award for his injury claims.

In James Malaguit's ski injury lawsuit appeal, his lawyer sought to get the 2010 verdict set aside. That's generally allowed in certain situations, like if a judge gave flawed jury instructions. But the appellate judge rejected the set-aside request and upheld the jury's verdict. Malaguit may appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

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