Pittsfield, MA, Aug. 21--Bousquet Ski Area and the family of a girl who fell from a chair lift and cracked her pelvis in January 1998 settled their suit out of court for an undisclosed amount last week after one day of testimony by the plaintiffs. The lawsuit claimed Bousquet and its operator, Tamarack Ski Corp., acted negligently when Katherine Murray, 10 at the time, slid from the lift and clung to it as it continued moving away from the load station. Murray's parents, Gerald and Joanne Murray, originally sued for $150,000.
Apparently, Murray and a friend loaded the Hall double after a day of lessons when the accident occurred. According to Murray, the lift operator did not make sure she was properly seated on the chair and did not immediately respond when she screamed for help. Instead, she slipped off and held on to the seat. When the lift was stopped, between 200 and 300 feet up the line, a crew of ski area personnel already at the location scrambled to help her.
"We were about to throw a rope over when she let go," said George Jervas,Bousquet general manager. Murray cracked her pelvis and was bruised in numerous places from the fall of between 12 and 15 feet. The family incurred medical expenses of $3,200 and Gerald Murray sued for emotional distress because he watched his daughter fall. She had recovered enough by that spring to play soccer and has since made a full recovery. "It turned out a lot better than I thought," said Jervas, who also witnessed the fall. "We're pleased and happy that she's O.K."
Though Jervas had hoped his side got its day in court, he said the ski area decided to settle the case. He noted that there was some speculation thatMurray and her friend got their skis tangled upon loading and that the plaintiff might have lost her balance when trying to disengage her skis from her friends'. He noted that it had been sleeting and that conditions were quite slippery the afternoon of the accident.