The case of the snow-tuber who got hurt

It’s great weather for snow tubing in Minnesota, but you’re on your own if you go, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled today.

The court upheld dismissal of a case in which a young man sued Green Acres snow-tubing hill in Lake Elmo after he apparently hit another person at the bottom of the hill, although he doesn’t remember the accident and no employee saw it.

No matter. The sign in the parking lot saying “tube sliding can be dangerous,” the ticket tag that says customer “is voluntarily participating in the activity and acknowledges that snow tubing is a potentially dangerous activity, and the release customers sign saying they hold the owners harmless ” provided plenty of warning.

But an attorney for Ryan Grady, the customer involved in the accident, said Green Acres had “a duty to provide lanes on the hill, employ attendants at the top and bottom of the hill who would indicate when it was safe for tubers to come down, and install a protected walkway from the bottom of the hill to the tow rope.”

The Court of Appeals made quick work of that argument:

When asked why, when sledding, he waited until no one was in the way before going down the hill, he answered, “So I can make it all the way down and I don’t run into anybody.” (Emphasis added.) When asked how one could get hurt while snowboarding, he answered, “You could fall, run into a tree or a building or someone else.” Thus, the record here supports the district court’s conclusion that appellant knew snow tubing entailed the risk of collision with another person and appreciated that risk, just as Snilsberg knew diving into water of an unknown depth entailed the risk of hitting the lake bottom.

Like Snilsberg, who could have avoided the risk by not swimming at all or not diving into the water, appellant had the chance to avoid the risk by not going down the hill. The district court concluded that his “choice to slide down an icy snow hill face-first evinces not only a willingness to relieve others of their obligation for [his] safety, but to leave [his] safety largely to chance.” The record supports the district court’s conclusion that appellant knew the risk, appreciated it, and had a chance to avoid it.

If you don’t want to get hurt while snow tubing, don’t go snow tubing.