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Miller v. Arnal Corp.

Court of Appeals of Arizona
632 P.2d 987 (1981)


Facts

Clint Miller (plaintiff) and Allison Clay left the Snow Bowl Lodge (Lodge) with four friends on an overnight hiking trip. During the first night, a bad snowstorm destroyed much of the party’s equipment. In the morning, the four friends descended the mountain to seek assistance for Miller, who had contracted frostbite and did not want to try to walk back down the mountain without assistance. Clay stayed with Miller. Upon arriving at the Lodge, the friends informed the Lodge’s ski patrol of the situation. The ski patrol started gathering supplies it would need for the rescue. The ski patrol planned to use the Lodge’s chairlift to ascend the mountain. The patrol would then continue on foot from the end of the chairlift. However, the chairlift had been shut down due to another storm in the area, and the manager of the Lodge refused to restart the chairlift, finding the winds to be too dangerous. The four friends had also informed the local sheriff’s office of the situation. The sheriff’s search party did not locate Miller and Clay until the following morning. As a result, Miller suffered from severe hypothermia and frostbite, resulting in amputations of portions of his feet, all of his toes, and five of his fingers. Miller brought a negligence suit against Arnal Corporation (Arnal) (defendant), the owner and operator of the Lodge. Specifically, Miller claimed that the Lodge was negligent in the termination of Miller’s rescue. The trial court instructed the jury that a person who gratuitously begins aiding another is entitled to abandon those efforts at any time unless the aid has put the other in a worse position than where he began. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Arnal. Miller filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that the jury instructions were improper.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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