It's getting to be that time of the year that we start to see the skiing and snowboarding lawsuits - especially with the dump of snow in our local California mountains these past couple of days. It's actually one of the things I love about California - especially after living in the Midwest and East coast.
Not the lawsuits (well, alright, I do enjoy the litigation) - I was referring to the location of the snow. California's got it all figured out. We manage to keep our snow where it belongs - in the mountains, not in the valleys where most of us live. We can choose to travel up into the mountains to enjoy the snow and then leave it there. On the East coast and in the Midwest, there's precious little you can do to avoid the snow when it falls other than to stay inside.
And yes, I am one of those people who call my family back East when the weather's balmy out here and they're stuck in a blizzard. It's the price I pay.
But back to the assumption of risk, which was where I was going before the Weather (or more accurately California's general lack of Weather [notice the capitalization]) got me sidetracked. Typically we get court decisions in the wintertime that regularly reinforce to skiers and snowboarders that they assume the risk of injury when they get on the slopes - as long as the ski resort didn't do anything to increase the chance they would get hurt.
Now that we've traveled all over the countryside, let's get to today's case, Luna v. Vela, which involved a front-yard volleyball court and a 13-year old kid who joined in the game. Fabian Luna joined the game about 15 minutes late, and when the ball bounced out of bounds, he ran after it, only to trip over the cord holding up the pole that held up the volleyball net. Fabian fractured his elbow, and sued Edilberto Vela, the homeowner and erector of the said volleyball net, pole and cord holding up the apparatus.
Does that last part sound lawyerly enough?
In any event, the appellate court overruled the trial court and held Vela responsible to pay for Luna's injuries, determining that Vela increased the risk of injury to the game's participants by installing the cord to hold up the pole that held up the net.
Call me silly, but without the cord holding up the pole, it's a little difficult to play the game. Without the cord, the net and pole would be on the ground. Certainly Vela could have poured concrete around the base of the pole to hold it up, but everytime I've seen a volleyball court up at a family outing, the cords and stakes hold up the two poles. Luna claimed the cord was "invisible" and that he didn't see it. The appellate court said the cord should have been marked with flags to make it more visible.
What's your ruling?