Snowboarder sues Grouse over spinal cord injury

Terrain park accident left tourist in wheelchair

A young Australian man who is unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair after suffering a spinal cord injury in a snowboarding accident has filed a lawsuit against Grouse Mountain Resort Ltd.

Lawyers for Jason Patrick Apps, 21, filed the lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court June 7 alleging the North Vancouver ski resort was negligent in designing its snowboard terrain park and in not sufficiently warning the public about the potential for serious injury.

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The accident happened in the ski hill’s terrain park, an area of the resort where snowboarders can board off ramps, rails and other manmade features, and do twists and flips in the air.

According to documents filed in court, Apps was boarding at the terrain park near the end of the day on March 18, 2016 and approached the final jump in the course “cautiously” when his snowboard came out from under him, flipping him upside down. Apps landed in that position, causing a “devastating” “acute spinal cord injury,” according to the lawsuit.

The injury left Apps unable to walk, according to the lawsuit. He now requires an electric wheelchair and assistance for personal care, most meals and domestic tasks, according to court documents.

According to the lawsuit, the terrain park where the accident happened was rated for intermediate snowboarders. The snow was wet that day, according to court documents, and Grouse had posted large “slow” signs near the large jump. As Apps approached the jump cautiously, his board came out from under him and put him upside, he claims. He landed in that position, causing the injury.

The lawsuit claims Grouse was negligent in the design, construction and maintenance of the jump and in either not building the jump according to an engineering design or not having the jump engineered to begin with.

As a result, the “jump presented a higher risk of injury,” according to the lawsuit and “allowed for much less room for error in either takeoff and/or landing.”

“There is a consumer expectation that many of the attractions in the terrain park are reasonably fit for general consumer use and that this would include at the very least the assumption of having safe engineering design practices underlying the attractions and features … .” Apps stated in the claim.

The lawsuit alleges Grouse was also negligent in not informing Apps that approaching the jump outside a narrow range of speeds “created a higher risk of serious injury.”

Apps, who previously worked as a carpenter, is suing the ski resort for lost past and future earning capacity, costs of future health-care services and costs of future care, including renovations to future residences to make them wheelchair accessible.

None of the allegations have so far been proven in court.

Julia Grant, spokeswoman for Grouse Mountain Resort said in an emailed statement, "This was a very unfortunate accident and our hearts go out to Jason, his family and friends. Grouse Mountain does everything it can to provide and promote safe skiing and boarding."

Grant declined to comment specifically on the case, but added the resort will be filing a response to the claim in court.

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