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Snow-tubing negligence suit may proceed

January 6, 2014

Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg must answer a federal negligence lawsuit arising from a snow-tubing accident almost three years ago that resulted in a brain injury for a child who was 10 years old at the time, a judge ruled Friday.

District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the Southern District of Indiana denied a motion for summary judgment for Perfect North Slopes but dismissed from the lawsuit five individual snow-tubers who collided with the children who had tubed downhill before them. The suit is James Stephen Sauter and Piper Sauter, Individually and as the Natural Guardians of M.S., a minor v. Perfect North Slopes, Inc., et al., 4:12-cv-00027.

All of the parties had signed releases of liability, including the Sauters who signed on behalf of their children, before tubing. The Sauters asked the court to invalidate the release on public policy grounds, an issue Pratt declined to consider because she wrote that the Indiana Supreme Court hasn't addressed it.

But Pratt agreed with the Sauters that the language of the release doesn't contain a waiver of claims on behalf of minors and that it was ambiguous. “The release does not include a clear, unambiguous waiver of M.S.'s claim against Perfect North Slopes for its alleged negligence,” Pratt wrote in denying summary judgment and allowing the claim to proceed.
 

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