New Hampshire Fish & Game Dept. v. BaconAnnotate this Case
Defendant Edward Bacon appealed a circuit court order that found he violated RSA 206:26-bb (2011) (amended 2014) by acting negligently while hiking, so as to require a search and rescue effort by the plaintiff, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, and that he, thus, was responsible to the Department for the reasonable costs associated with the search and rescue. defendant began a five-day solo hiking trip in the White Mountains, during which he planned to hike several mountains with summits over 5,000 feet. At the time of the hike, defendant was fifty-nine years old, had undergone four hip surgeries since 2005, and had an artificial hip that had dislocated on five occasions, twice during the prior year. Defendant also had a “bad back” and was taking a variety of medications for multiple ailments. During the hike, defendant encountered a waist-high rock ledge that he needed to traverse in order to continue on the trail. He attempted to jump backward up onto the ledge and, in the process, fell and dislocated his hip. Approximately one hour later, a Conservation Officer received an alert that a hiker had dislocated his hip and needed assistance. He responded immediately and eventually located the defendant on the trail between Little Haystack and Lincoln Mountains. The Officer testified that when he found defendant his left leg was flexed and internally rotated, the very position that defendant’s orthopedic surgeon had warned him to avoid due to his hip replacement. Approximately fifteen Department personnel and thirty-five volunteers participated in defendant’s rescue. The trial court found for the Department “for all of the reasons cited in the plaintiff’s closing memorandum,” and awarded the Department $9,334.86 in damages. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider, to which the Department objected. The court denied defendant’s motion, stating that “[t]he actions of the defendant were a gross deviation from those of a reasonable person that surpasses the [negligence] standard required.” After review, the Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed.