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Bennett v. Hidden Valley Golf and Ski, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
318 F.3d 868 (2003)


Facts

Sixteen-year-old Breanne Bennett (plaintiff) was an inexperienced skier, having only skied once and snowboarded twice. One night Bennett went midnight skiing with two friends at a ski slope operated by Hidden Valley Golf and Ski, Inc. (Hidden Valley) (defendant). While skiing on an intermediate slope, Bennett fell when she hit a bump in the snow that had been created by the movements of other skiers on the slope. The bump threw Bennett forward about five feet. Bennett’s injuries from the fall included brain damage. Bennett sued Hidden Valley for negligence, alleging, among other things, that Hidden Valley failed to warn her of the dangers and obstructions on its ski slopes. At trial, Hidden Valley raised the defense of assumption of risk, asserting that the bumps on its ski slope were risks inherent to the sport of skiing. In regard to Hidden Valley’s assumption-of-risk defense, the trial court instructed the jury that it should find in favor of Hidden Valley if the bump that injured Bennett was a risk inherent to the sport of skiing. The jury found in favor of Hidden Valley. Bennett appealed, arguing that the jury instruction regarding the assumption of risk was improper, because it did not require the jury to additionally find that Bennett had knowledge of and understood the dangers of the ski slope.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Murphy, J.)

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