The Minnesota State Bar Association’s man in St. Paul, Bryan Lake, reports that “House Civil Law Committee laid over HF1865, The Minnesota Ski Safety Act, which sets forth duties and responsibilities for skiers and ski area operators, and limits the liability of ski area operators.”
As with a great deal of legislation, it is so misleadingly named that one can better understand the true meaning and import of the proposed legislation if one flips the language to say the opposite. Here, for example, consider thinking of this as the Minnesota Ski Danger Act.
When you purposefully propel yourself on slick strips of fiberglass and metal down inclines of 15-25 degrees or so covered in ice and snow going 40-100 miles per hour, please understand that you might get hurt. In fact, you might die. And, if Minnesota ski resorts (and their insurers and others) have their way, you (or your estate) may not be able to turn around and sue resorts because you got hurt or died in many cases.
The proposed legislation protects skiers against a ski resort’s “gross negligence” or “recklessness” but insulates resorts from “mere negligence.” It also provides for a two-year statute of limitation and also a 180-day-notice-of-claim period, which would give Minnesota ski resorts considerably more protection than your garden-variety Minnesota tortfeasor gets under Minnesota law (for whom the statute of limitation is six years).