March 10, 2011
Skiing in the U.S. and Switzerland
Forbes (via Overlawyered) has a post up exploring why there might be fewer tort suits in Switzerland than in the U.S., despite the former having some pretty intense ski and other winter sports facilities.
A query, though: Is it clearly true that there are more winter sports-related lawsuits in the U.S.? I know that at least Colorado and some other major ski states have statutory no-duty rules as to many (statutorily-defined) inherent risks (a survey is here). Those defined inherent risks would seem to include the tree trunks, exposed banks, and other hazards that are described as "whizzing by" in the Forbes piece. With some exceptions, those rules should eliminate at least some cases from being filed at all, and get more dismissed at the 12(b)(6) stage.
Certainly the differences between Swiss and U.S. systems are relevant and interesting, and seem likely to result in less litigation, but the whole piece, and the title of the Overlawyered piece, seem to assume a fact that isn't self-evident (or supported in the post) -- that there is materially more tort litigation against snow sport entities in the U.S. than in Switzerland. State legislators appear cognizant of tort risks against ski areas and to have at least provided some protection.
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