Jury Rules in Favor of Mt. Bachelor, OR, in $15 Million Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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Mount Bachelor, OR. Credit Mount Bachelor Facebook

On Friday, a Deschutes County jury ruled in favor of Mt. Bachelor, OR, owned by POWDR, in a wrongful death lawsuit amounting to $15 million. The case was brought against the resort by the father of Alfonso Braun, a 24-year-old snowboarder from Bend who tragically suffocated and died after falling into a tree well within the resort’s boundaries on March 2, 2018. Braun’s body was found under about six feet of snow in the West Bowls, off the Northwest Lift, an area designated for experts. He had been riding with a buddy, but they lost sight of each other.

The suit alleged that Mt. Bachelor had not adequately monitored and warned skiers and riders about the area’s heavy snowfall risks. However, the jury absolved Mt. Bachelor of any liability and negligence claims associated with the case.

Brad Stanford, the attorney representing Mt. Bachelor and POWDR, expressed satisfaction with the jury’s decision. He emphasized that snow immersion and tree wells are inherent risks in the sport, and Mt. Bachelor had done an exceptional job of educating skiers and snowboarders about these risks. Stanford pointed out that numerous witnesses testified to the resort’s comprehensive efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of deep snow.

“We are hopeful that this outcome will have a positive impact on the industry and discourage similar lawsuits in the future,” Stanford stated. As an Association of Ski Defense Attorneys member, he believes the ruling aligns with the organization’s stance.

The father of another victim, Nicole Panet-Raymond, a 19-year-old skier who also died in a tree well within the Mt. Bachelor boundary on the same day as Braun, has filed a separate wrongful death suit, which is still pending. Initially, both cases were combined into a joint lawsuit in February 2020 but were later separated. Panet-Raymond was reported missing at about 3:30 pm. Her body was discovered about five hours later under six feet of snow in the Cloudchaser Lift intermediate area.

Regarding the jury’s decision in the wrongful death suit, Elliot highlighted the significance of citizens from the same jurisdiction as the tragic incident arriving at this verdict. He stated that this jury’s decision affirms that Oregonians distinguish between personal responsibility and the responsibility of providers when engaging in inherently risky activities.

“The jury’s finding aligns with the beliefs of the thousands of Oregonians who support the Protect Oregon Recreation coalition,” Elliot added. He emphasized that although the 2023 legislative session has concluded, the coalition remains actively engaged with legislators to continue important discussions on how unbalanced liability laws impact the people of Oregon.

mt. bachelor, Oregon
Two tragic incidents occurred in separate areas of the mountain in one day.

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