Tahoe ski resort settles suit over chairlift death
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A lawsuit filed by a family against a Lake Tahoe ski resort and other companies over the death of a man who fell from a chairlift has been settled, although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Sacramento Bee reports Wednesday (http://bit.ly/1bghsGE) that the family of 51-year-old Mark Dickson settled the wrongful death suit in September in El Dorado Superior Court. They had sought $15 million in a settlement conference earlier this year.
As part of the settlement the owners of Heavenly Mountain Resort agreed to make various safety improvements, including regular equipment inspections and shutting down the ZipRider line in high winds.
The lawsuit says Dickson was killed in August 20009 after falling from Heavenly's chairlift, which became entangled with a rope retrieval line from the zip line ride.
The Bee writes:
After a honeymoon hike in Heavenly Valley, Mark and Rebecca Dickson were riding the chairlift down the hill, laughing and talking about their lunch plans, when the newlyweds saw a blue rope flutter ahead of them in the stiff afternoon.
“And then I heard my husband say, ‘This is not good,’” Rebecca Dickson recalled in an interview Tuesday.
The rope had broken off from Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Flyer ZipRider line that ran parallel to the lift about 100 yards away. The fluttering rope wrapped around the couple’s chair, which swung back and forth so violently in the entanglement that Mark Dickson, who was 51, fell out of his seat and to his death in the rocks about 40 feet below.
Rebecca Dickson and Mark Dickson’s two sons from a previous marriage sued, and in September they settled the wrongful death case in El Dorado Superior Court.
A confidentiality agreement has kept the financial terms of the settlement under wraps. The plaintiffs had asked for $15 million in a settlement conference in June, according to documents they filed ahead of a court hearing.
But, while the payout has been kept secret, the settlement does allow the Dicksons’ attorneys to reveal a list of Heavenly’s acknowledgments about the facts surrounding the Aug. 31, 2009, accident.
Under terms of the deal, Heavenly’s owners agreed to make a number of safety-related changes, including ones that call for strengthened drug and alcohol testing of the people who run the Heavenly Flyer, regular equipment inspections and shutting down the ride in high winds.
“We demanded to be able to make these conditions public, and hopefully with that recognition, and with the good people at Heavenly Valley being aware of it, this kind of thing isn’t going to happen again,” said plaintiff’s lawyer Robert Buccola of Sacramento.
The accident took place in...