Bourgeois v. Snow Time Inc., et al. (majority)Annotate this Case
In 2013, Ray Bourgeois hyperextended his spinal cord, resulting in quadraplegia, at Roundtop Mountain Resort when the snow tube he was riding collided with a folded “deceleration mat” that the resort’s employees had placed at the bottom of the snow tubing hill to slow down snow tubing patrons and prevent them from traveling beyond the run-out area. Mr. and Mrs. Bourgeois purchased a snow tubing season pass. The reverse side of the season pass contained a release agreement, which provided that snow tubing involves “inherent and other risks that could lead to serious injury or death.” The release provided that the signatory both assumed all the risks of snow tubing and released Ski Roundtop from liability. The Bourgeoises made 16 to 20 runs down the tubing hill without incident. On February 17, 2013, after completing several runs, Mr. Bourgeois rode his snow tube in a prone position, head-first down the hill. At the end of the run, Mr. Bourgeois’s tube went over a flat deceleration mat, which did not slow him down. He then collided with a second, folded mat, which caused the tube to stop abruptly. With this sudden stop of the tube, Mr. Bourgeois’s momentum propelled him, while still holding on to the tube’s handles to avoid falling off the tube, forward head first over the front of the tube and face down into the snow. With his head stuck in the snow, the momentum of his body carried him forward, which hyperextended his neck causing quadriplegia. As a direct result of Mr. Bourgeois’s accident, Ski Roundtop performed an investigation and decided to stop using mats to assist snow tubers with deceleration. Instead, the resort decided to increase the amount of snow-making equipment near the run-out area so it could create a reverse incline to slow down riders. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded the Superior Court erred in failing to consider the evidence, specifically the expert reports, in the light most favorable to the Bourgeoises. Accordingly, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings.