Parents’ Appeal Rulings in Son’s Colorado Ski Resort Death Case

September 19, 2018

The parents of a teenager who was killed in a 2012 avalanche at a Vail Resort property are appealing a judge and jury’s decision in their son’s death case.

Conlin died in an avalanche on upper Prima Cornice on the front side of Vail Mountain.

His parents sued, saying the company didn’t close the run despite the avalanche danger. They say Vail violated the Colorado Ski Safety Act when it closed the top gate to Prima Cornice but not the lower gate.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center says that on Jan. 22, 2012, the boy and other skiers entered the lower Prima Cornice trail through an open gate. An entrance to the top of the trail was blocked. Vail Resorts says Taft climbed from the lower trail area to the upper area before the avalanche was triggered. Resort attorneys say Conlin took an inappropriate risk when he sidestepped up into an area between the two gates and he “knew or reasonably should have known that the slope uphill from the gate was closed.”

The Vail Daily reported Sunday that Dr. Louise Ingalls and Dr. Steve Conlin, the parents of Taft Conlin, say judges in Broomfield and Eagle counties erred in several rulings.

Court documents filed with the Colorado Court of Appeals say the parents plan to appeal those rulings and the jury’s verdict, which was based on those judges’ ruling.

Their appeal is based on five issues they found: moving the trial from Broomfield to Eagle County, pretrial orders by District Court Judge Fred Gannett, rulings during trial before the jury, erroneous jury instruction and an erroneous verdict form that resulted in a defense verdict.

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