At just 17 years old, Myles Bagely was an expert snowboarder taking on the most advanced terrain in the Cascades. In 2006, he purchased a season pass to Mt. Bachelor, for which his father had to sign a liability waiver that stated the resort could not be sued for injury or death, even if it was caused by negligence.
“I/ we agree to release and indemnify Mt. Bachelor, Inc., its officers and directors, owners, agents, landowners, affiliated companies, and employees (hereinafter “Mt. Bachelor, Inc.”) from any and all claims for property damage, injury, or death which I/ we may suffer or for which I/ we may be liable to others, in any way connected with skiing, snowboarding, or snowriding. This release and indemnity agreement shall apply to any claim even if caused by negligence.”
That is a pretty hefty fine-print statement to sign, yet thousands of Oregon skiers and snowboarders sign it each year because otherwise, they could not pursue their love of winter sports. The gist of such a claim is spread throughout the state of Oregon, with each resort pursuing the same tactics to guard themselves against lawsuits brought upon by ski accident attorneys. Avid skiers and snowboarders don’t get much of a choice; they either sign the daunting waiver or they don’t get a pass.
Day after day, the young snowboarder would walk past signs in Mt. Bachelor’s ski resort that read “YOUR TICKET IS A RELEASE: THE BACK OF YOUR TICKET CONTAINS A RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS AGAINST MT. BACHELOR, INC.” After enjoying the pass for nearly a month, Bagely injured himself off a manmade jump in Bachelor’s Air Chamber Terrain Park in such a way that he became permanently paralyzed from the waist down at just eighteen years of age.
Despite the clear language used in the release, Bagley’s family sued the resort in Deschutes County Circuit Court in 2008 arguing that Bagely would not have injured himself if Mt. Bachelor had used “reasonable care” when designing and maintaining the jump. The family sought $21.5 million. Their attorneys argued that the broad nature of the liability waiver went against public policy, and that the resort created a dangerous condition in the manner the jump was set up.
On the other side, the resort’s attorneys contended that those who come to participate in skiing and snowboarding voluntarily take part in