The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. RICHARD CAPUTO, District Judge
Before me is Defendant Camelback Ski Corporation's motion for
summary judgment. (Doc. 13.) Plaintiff, Michael Savarese, was
skiing at Camelback Ski Area on January 21, 2003 when he was
struck by the chair lift when he attempted to get out of the way
of the chairs. This occurred because as he lined himself up to
board the ski lift chair, the bottom of the chair was not folded
down for seating. He therefore sought to get out of the way of
that chair, and in so doing, was struck by it, causing a shoulder
Because use of the chair lift is part of downhill skiing, and
because the release Plaintiff signed and the exculpating
agreement included in the lift ticket are valid, summary judgment
will be entered in favor of the Defendant, Camelback Ski
Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with
the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56 (c). A fact is
material if proof of its existence or non-existence might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable
substantive law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Where there is no material fact in dispute, the moving party
need only establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. Where, however, there is a disputed issue of material
fact, summary judgment is appropriate only if the factual dispute
is not a genuine one. See id. at 248. An issue of material fact
is genuine if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party." Id.
Where there is a material fact in dispute, the moving party has
the initial burden of proving that (1) there is no genuine issue
of material fact; and (2) the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT & ARTHURR.
MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE: CIVIL 2D § 2727 (2d ed.
1983). The moving party may present its own evidence or, where
the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, simply point out to
the court that "the nonmoving party has failed to make a
sufficient showing of an essential element of her case." Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
All doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material
fact must be resolved against the moving party, and the entire
record must be examined in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. See White v. Westinghouse Elec. Co.,
862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). Once the moving party has satisfied its
initial burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to
either present affirmative evidence supporting its version of the
material facts or to refute the moving party's contention that
the facts entitle it to judgment as a matter of law. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-257.
The court need not accept mere conclusory allegations or
denials taken from the pleadings. See Schoch v. First Fidelity Bancorporation,
912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990). In deciding a motion for summary
judgment, "the judge's function is not himself to weigh the
evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine
whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson,
477 U.S. at 249.
The issue in this case is whether Camelback is relieved of
liability by virtue of the Skier's Responsibility Act,
42 Pa.C.S.A. § 7102(c), the signed release and the exculpatory
language on the lift ticket. Plaintiff argues that what occurred
was not part of the activity of downhill skiing, and is therefore
not covered by the Act, the release, or the exculpatory language
on the lift ticket.
While the parties have not mentioned the Skier Responsibility
Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 7102(c), I note it because the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court referred to how a court should read risks inherent
in "the sport of downhill skiing." See Hughes v. Seven Springs
Farm, Inc., 762 A.2d 339
, 1344 (Pa. 2000). There, the court
Obviously the sport of downhill skiing encompasses
more than merely skiing down a hill. It includes
other activities directly and necessarily incident to
the act of downhill skiing. Such activities include
boarding the ski lift, riding the ski lift up the
mountain, alighting from the lift, skiing from the
lift to the trail . . .
Hughes v. Seven Springs Farm, Inc., 762 A.2d 339
, 1344 (Pa.
In Hughes, the plaintiff, who was struck by another skier at
the bottom of the run as she was making her way to the lift,
argued she was not downhill skiing at that time. The court, in
quoting the above, was noting that plaintiff's view would require
interpreting the sport of downhill skiing in "an extremely narrow,
hypertechnical and unrealistic manner." Id.
This interpretation carries over to the rental agreement and
the exculpatory language on the lift ticket. Moreover, each of
those note the inherent ...