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California Supreme Court To Hear Mammoth Mountain Injury Case

The California Supreme Court will hear the case of a woman who was denied her day in Court when she sued the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area for Negligence and Personal Injury when a snowcat ran over the woman and caused catastrophic injuries, including the amputation of her leg, brain injuries, and bone fractures.

The accident occurred in 2011, and it took several years for the litigation to get before a Mono County Superior Court trial judge, who granted a Motion for Summary Judgement, effectively throwing her case out of Court. Her personal injury lawsuit alleged that the driver of the snowcat unexpectedly turned sharply off the main center of the trail, turned in front of the woman, gave no warning, and negligently ran over her, dragging her body underneath. The accident victim alleges that the vehicle was heading for a hidden service road.

The personal injury victim, Kathleen Willhide-Michiulis, is appealing the Summary Judgement ruling to the high Court in California. She is asking the Supreme Court of California to reverse the motion that was granted by the trial court in favor of the negligent defendant Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. She is seeking, through her lawyers, to reinstate her personal injury lawsuit and sue the insurance company for the defendant. Her lawyers stated, that the trial court erred by ruling that “ Mammoth Mountain Ski Area didn’t commit gross negligence in operating a snowcat on a run open to the public with its tiller running and which ran over [the victim]." The trial Judge said that the victim had signed an assumption-of-the risk release, thereby preventing them from suing for negligence in a personal injury case. The Judge rued that the accident victim needs to prove “gross negligence”, a much more difficult standard to prove at trial. The trial Court ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeals for the State of California Third District.

The personal injury lawyers for the accident victim alleged in their appeal that the driver of the vehicle was negligent when he violated the ski resorts policy and training manual, which prohibits him from operating the snowcat when skiers are present. The accident victim also states that the driver of the vehicle drove in a “recklessly dangerous manner”. The negligent driver admitted that he knew he ran over a person, but that it was the victims fault because she “ran into the vehicle.”

Her attorneys alleged that the driver of the dangerous vehicle had no “spotters” to look out for skiers, and that the assumption-of-risk release that they are hiding behind in their defense is an attempt to "excuse their dangerous behavior as being inherent in the activity."

The California Supreme Court has not yet announced the date on which this case will be heard, but personal injury attorneys will be closely watching this case which involves personal injury negligence law and catastrophic injuries. Lawyers For The Injured will report further on the ruling of this very important case.