Friday, August 1, 2014

2013 skiing accident leads to $407K judgment

California man awarded maximum amount for pain and suffering

Express Staff Writer

Lots of people like to ski Bald Mountain, as shown here during ski season at the Warm Springs lift area. However, causing a skiing accident can lead to expensive litigation. Last month, a California man was awarded more than $407,000 in damages for injuries and pain and suffering he received from a skiing accident on Bald Mountain in 2013. Express file photo

Blaine County judge awarded a California man more than $407,000 in damages last month for a skiing accident on Bald Mountain in 2013.
      The award, a default judgment, was against a Maryland man, who, according to court records, refused to receive a summons and civil complaint and ignored all court proceedings.
    Winning the case was Anthony Davis, no age available. Losing the case was Robert Todd Lazenby, also no age available. Court records state that Lazenby’s last known address was in Baltimore.
    The judgment was ordered on July 3 by Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee. He awarded Davis a total of $407,715, with $62,785 for medical bills, $25,000 for wages lost, $96 for the filing fee, $100 for service costs and $319,734 for non-economic damages, defined in the lawsuit as pain and suffering and mental anguish.
    The $319,734 is described in the judgment as the “full cap amount,” meaning it was the maximum allowable award in Idaho in 2013, the year the accident occurred, for non-economic damages.
    State law defining maximum non-economical awards allowable in the state was established by the Idaho Legislature in 2004 at $250,000. However, the law provides that the maximum amount be adjusted annually by changing economic conditions as determined by the Idaho Industrial Commission.
    Regardless of the award, whether Davis will ever collect on the judgment is another matter altogether.
    “That’s a process we’re involved in now in trying to collect the judgment,” Davis’ attorney Brian J. Hilverda, of the Twin Falls law firm Pederson and Whitehead, said in an interview Thursday. “But we don’t know if we can. Since he didn’t participate in the process, we don’t even know if he’s insured.”
    The litigation stemmed from an accident on Bald Mountain on Feb. 17, 2013. According to the complaint, Davis was skiing on Mid Christmas Bowl, an intermediate-level run, when he was struck from behind by Lazenby.
    “At all relevant times, Mr. Davis was clearly visible, skiing reasonably and within control and maintaining a proper lookout,” the complaint states.
    The complaint accuses Lazenby of negligence. It alleges that Lazenby was skiing at a “high rate of speed,” that he failed to maintain a proper lookout for other skiers, that he was skiing too fast for conditions, the he failed to maintain adequate control, that he failed to yield to Davis and that he failed to take evasive action to avoid the collision.
    The complaint states that Davis suffered a torn labrum, necessitating surgery. Furthermore, the complaint states that Davis suffered lost wages and earning capacity and incurred past and future medical expenses. Non-economic damages are described as mental anguish, physical and emotional pain and “loss of the enjoyment of life.”
    The lawsuit was filed on Sept. 4, 2013. According to court records, Lazenby refused or evaded service of court papers, so the court allowed the documents to be published instead. Court records show that both the summons and the complaint were published in the Baltimore Sun on Dec. 26, 2013.
    The amount of the award was determined at a hearing before Judge Elgee on June 23. Court records show that Lazenby was notified by certified mail of the hearing and pending default judgment, but again he didn’t participate.
    “Mr. Lazenby refused to take part in the process,” Hilverda said. “He didn’t participate in the proceedings at any point.”
    Lazenby could not be reached by the Idaho Mountain Express for comment on the accident and litigation.

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