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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Colorado Court Rejects Rappelling Wrongful Death Lawsuit


Rappelling is among the thousands of outdoor activities on which much of Colorado’s economy is based. The Colorado appeals courts were asked to weigh in on a lawsuit in which the court would have to determine which state’s law was the most appropriate to the case. The deceased had signed a liability release in Texas, but the company was located in Colorado. The attorneys representing the man had hoped to apply Texas law to the lawsuit because that’s where the release was signed. However, two Colorado courts have rejected the lawsuit on the grounds that Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry cannot and should not be regulated by the other 49 states.

If the lawsuit was allowed to move forward, the outdoor recreation industry would be forced to comply with rules set by every other state in the country, potentially.

What happened? 

Rappelling is an outdoor activity that some folks consider fun. You climb up a mountain and then go back down with a rope tied to you. In this case, the man’s rope led to his death. The man somehow became inverted and twisted in the rope and died before anyone could get to him. His wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the rappelling company claiming that her husband was unskilled at rappelling and should have been made aware of the dangers. She also claimed that the rappelling crew was slow to rescue him.

A lawsuit filed by the plaintiff was dismissed by the lower court, but attorneys for the plaintiff argued that the wrong state’s law was applied because the liability waiver was signed in Texas, where the plaintiff’s church group hailed from. The appellate court rejected that argument and sided with the lower court that the correct state law had been applied to the suit.

Venue squabbles 

Issues related to the venue often appear in personal injury lawsuits. It goes without saying that one jurisdiction may be more sympathetic to another when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. In this case, Colorado’s economy is based heavily on outdoor recreation activities. So they have created a legislative infrastructure around this industry that suits the needs of their overall economy. While this may be a conflict of interest, it is a conflict of interest that every state employs. The court system generally serves to protect the businesses against the public while establishing a minimum duty of care a business owner has to a member of the public. In this case, the Colorado courts honored a liability waiver signed by the plaintiff and tossed his lawsuit on that basis.

Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney Today 

If you’ve been injured while enjoying a recreational activity, you may be able to sue a negligent party. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm have helped thousands of injury victims receive compensation. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.


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