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Mack v. Viking Ski Shop, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division

September 24, 2014

MATTHEW MACK, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
VIKING SKI SHOP, INC., an Illinois Corporation, Defendant-Appellee (SALOMON NORTH AMERICA, INC., a Delaware Corporation, Defendant)

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 06 L 11817. The Honorable Lynn M. Egan, Judge Presiding.

SYLLABUS

On appeal from the entry of summary judgment for defendant ski shop in an action alleging that defendant's negligence in setting the binding on plaintiff's skis too high for his ability level led to his knee injury, the appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision, since the testimony of the orthopedic surgeon who operated on plaintiff's knee, who also had a degree in biomechanical engineering, did not establish a causal link between plaintiff's injury and the failure of his bindings to release to any degree of medical certainty, especially when he testified that he was not an expert on causation with respect to injuries related to ski bindings, and plaintiff did not rebut the testimony of defendant's expert that a lower setting on the bindings would not have prevented the injury; therefore, no genuine issue of material fact was presented.

James J. Morici, Jr., Michael G. Miller, Morici, Figlioli & Associates, of Chicago, for Appellant.

Robert Marc Chemers, Edward H. Nielsen, Scott L. Howie, Belle L. Katubig, Pretzel & Stouffer, Chtrd., of Chicago; Peter W. Rietz, Brian A. Birenbach, Rietz Law Firm, of Dillon, Colorado, for Appellee.

JUSTICE LAVIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Fitzgerald Smith and Epstein concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

LAVIN, JUSTICE.

Page 1014

[¶1] This interlocutory appeal arises from the trial court's order granting summary judgment in a negligence action to defendant Viking Ski Shop, Inc. On appeal, plaintiff Matthew Mack contends that the trial court erroneously granted defendant's motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff's negligence claim because a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding the element of proximate cause. Specifically, plaintiff contends that defendant set plaintiff's ski bindings too high for his ability level, and as a result, his bindings failed to release, causing his knee injury. We affirm.

[¶2] BACKGROUND

[¶3] This case arises from injuries sustained in a ski accident in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Plaintiff fell approximately halfway down an intermediate ski run and sustained a severe knee fracture of his left tibial plateau. Plaintiff purchased the skis and ski bindings used at the time of injury from defendant. Plaintiff commenced this action in November 2006, alleging negligence against defendant and third-party Salomon North America (Salomon). Plaintiff alleged, in pertinent part, that defendant failed to make a reasonable inspection before selling the ski equipment to plaintiff. In addition, defendant failed to properly adjust the ski equipment, specifically the bindings, to plaintiff's height, weight, and ski type. Generally, in the ski industry, skiers are classified as type I (beginner), type II (intermediate), or type III (advanced).

[¶4] Several depositions were taken during discovery. Plaintiff testified that in November, 2004, he purchased new skis, boots, and bindings from defendant based on his size and ability. He told defendant's sales representative that he was an intermediate to advanced skier. On March 10, 2010, plaintiff traveled to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where he had skied numerous times. On the day of the incident, he had one or two beers at lunch, and then resumed skiing. Approximately halfway down the Vagabond ski

Page 1015

run, plaintiff was initiating a left turn when his right ski crossed over his left ski, causing him to fall on his back. He did not recall if any ski released from the binding. Believing his leg was broken, he radioed his ski companion Jody to call the ski patrol. Glenn Jones, a ski patroller, splinted plaintiff's injured leg and used a toboggan to transport him off the mountain. The ski patrol immediately transferred plaintiff to the Yampa Valley Medical Center, where Henry F. Fabian, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, operated on plaintiff. He remained hospitalized for 12 days and then resumed ...


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