Dullimaier horseback tours. The plaintiff’s husband was

Dullimaier v. Xanterra Parks & Resorts,
883 F3d. 1278, (February 27, 2018)
Case Summary
The plaintiff was the wife of the man who was killed during a guided horseback ride through Yellowstone National Park. The defendant is the company who gave the guided horseback tours. The plaintiff’s husband was on a guided tour through an area called Roosevelts Corrals. Riders were crossing a bridge in a single file line when a group of ducks were flushed out causing the horses to spook. This commotion caused all the horses to become scared. The horse the plaintiff’s husband was on began to break away from the rest of the group and headed for a hill galloping at full speed. One of the guides tried to cut off the horse before he reached the hill but was unsuccessful. The husband ended falling off his horse suffering multiple injuries. As a result from the injuries, the plaintiff’s husband died.

The lawsuit brought to the court was a wrongful death lawsuit. The plaintiff brought forth four separate claims against the defendant under the Wyoming Recreation Safety Act. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was responsible for eliminating risks, hiring staff with more experience/skill, conducting specialized training specifically for emergent situations, adding more personnel to the guided tours, and having proper equipment. The defendant denied all claims of liability and moved for a summary-judgment. The defense argued that in the state of Wyoming negligent nondisclosure is not recognized. They also claimed the risks were inherent to horseback riding and that they owed no duty. The court granted this motion on behalf of the defendant.

After the trial, the courts ruled in favor of the defense. They found that the death was a result of inherent risk. Since the injury was caused from inherent risks, there was no duty owed. Also before the guided tour the plaintiff and her husband both signed an acknowledgment-of-risk form. This document stated the risks involved within the activity and also had a place where the signee took full responsibility for themselves, including injury and/or death. The court accepted all of the defendant’s summary-judgments and were awarded a bill of costs.
The plaintiff appealed the summary-judgment and award of cost. She claimed the company “solicited” patrons to go on these guided tours. She also argued that the people relied heavily on the company in regards to information on these tours and their horses. The plaintiff’s evidence for negligent misrepresentation failed to satisfy the standards that make up such a claim. The state of Wyoming does not recognize tort when it comes to negligent disclosure. She expressed that the company did not clearly state risks/dangers to participants of the guided tours and that they failed to eliminate risks that lead to her husband’s death. This argument provided ways to marginalize risk rather than what the company did to increase the risks involved. When it came to appealing the award of cost the plaintiff argued that the court failed when it came to enforcing an affidavit and in awarding cost of deposition. The district court came to the conclusion that the defendant satisfied the necessary requirements when filing for a bill of cost. Litigants are given the right to seek award for the cost of deposition under local law. Therefore, the court was just in their decision.

Legal Concepts
Throughout this case, there were many legal concepts used. Negligence is an accident that leads to injury. This can span anywhere from physical injury to injury of character. Duty is when a person/company takes responsibility to protect a person from harm. Torts are similar to negligence in the fact that they result in injury but they are caused by a faulty act. A summary-judgment is used when a case can be determined by law with undisputed facts. An appeal is when a higher level court is asked to evaluate a case. Liability refers to responsibility brought on by law.

Impacted Population
HYPER-related professionals who could be potentially affected by a case similar to this includes anyone who owns their own company involving fitness or recreation to the general public. For example: gym owners, white water rafting, rock climbing, etc.

Fascinating Points
I found two fascinating points after reading this case. First, I learned that the plaintiff, her husband, and their personal assistant were visiting the United States on a family vacation. The family was originally from Germany. The second interesting point I read was that the husband and the personal assistant signed an acknowledgment-of-risk form before they went out on the trail, as mentioned previously. I found these two points interesting because I wonder if they influenced one another. How well did this family know English? Did they fully understand the risks stated in the acknowledgment-of-risk form? Did they understand when they signed the form that they were assuming responsibility for themselves?
Future Action Steps
For future professionals I would implement four steps to help reduce risk. First, I would have all my guides trained in first aid. I would increase the number of guides sent out with each group. Specially having one go ahead of the rest of the riders to make sure the trail is clear and safe. I would have all staff participate in various forms of training, including: in-services and drills. Lastly, I would place barriers around unsafe areas.References
Dullimaier v. Xanterra Parks & Resorts,
883 F3d. 1278, (February 27, 2018)
Cotton, D. & Wolohan, J. (2003). Law for recreation and sport manager. (3rd ed.). Dubuque,
IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company

Topic: United States

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Last updated: October 24, 2019


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