Miller v. The Sunapee Difference, LLC

918 F.3d 172 (2019)

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Miller v. The Sunapee Difference, LLC

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
918 F.3d 172 (2019)

Facts

Following a large snowfall, Thomas Jackson Miller (plaintiff) went skiing at The Sunapee Difference, LLC (Mount Sunapee) (defendant), a resort on New Hampshire public land. While skiing, Miller collided with a snow-gun holder concealed by snow. The unmarked, unpadded holder was a steel pipe protruding from the ground. No gun was in the holder. Miller’s leg was seriously injured. As a condition of using a purchased lift ticket, Miller agreed to a liability release printed on the lift ticket. The release noted that skiing is an inherently dangerous activity that can cause injury. The ticket user voluntarily assumed all risks of personal injury and released Mount Sunapee from all liability, including negligence, resulting from conditions at the resort or skiing. The lift ticket was a large sticker with a peel-off backing that must be removed to affix it to the skier’s jacket. On the face of the peel-off backing appeared a stop-sign image and a notice that by removing the peel-off backing and using the ticket, the user released the resort from liability. New Hampshire law required resort operators to indicate at the base of the mountain snowmaking operations that are routinely in progress. Miller filed a negligence claim under New Hampshire law in federal district court, arguing Mount Sunapee failed to mark or warn skiers of the pipe or otherwise mitigate its danger. Mount Sunapee moved for a judgment on the pleadings. The district court treated it as a summary-judgment motion and found for Mount Sunapee. Miller appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Barron, J.)

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