The District Court in Pitkin County recently determined that a ski operator can be held liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior for the negligence of its employee.  While a ski operator is generally immune from suit if its employee is found to be a “skier” as defined by CRS 33-44-103(8), the Pitkin Court stated that the “fact an employee was skiing while fulfilling his duties does not mean he was there for the purpose of skiing.” 


Thus, simply because an employee of the ski operator is on skis at the time the negligent incident occurs, does not automatically make him a “skier” and grant immunity to the ski operator.  When an employee is on the slope in fulfillment of his duties as an employee and not for the purpose of skiing, he will not be considered a “skier” as defined by the statute.


The Court went on to further find that an “operator’s immunity from suit is limited to injuries caused by dangers ‘which are an integral part of the sport of skiing’” and “[c]olliding with a careless employee is not an integral part of skiing.” 


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