Cardboard Derby lawsuit settled |

Cardboard Derby lawsuit settled

NICOLE FORMOSAsummit daily news

BRECKENRIDGE – The civil lawsuit between Denver residents Gary and Pam Fountain and the sponsors and host of the 2002 Cardboard Derby, where Gary sustained life-threatening injuries, has settled.The Fountains sued Copper Mountain, Clear Channel Broadcasting and Anheuser-Busch, Inc. in Summit County District Court on July 22, 2004, a year-and-a-half after the Feb. 2, 2002 KBCO/Budweiser derby event at Copper Mountain.The case was scheduled to be heard during a five-day jury trial beginning on Monday, but settled on Nov. 21.Peter Rietz, who represented Copper Mountain, said he could not discuss the terms of the settlement because of a confidentiality agreement with the plaintiffs.The settlement documents aren’t due in Summit County District Court until Dec. 22.Gary Fountain also said he couldn’t discuss the financial terms of the settlement, but said the outcome “was not what I would’ve like to have happened.””It’s nice to put it behind us,” Fountain said on Friday. “We’re not necessarily thrilled about the outcome, but it is what it is and it’s nice to be done with.”Fountain sustained several fractured vertebrae, a severed aorta, a dislocated hip, a collapsed lung, a paralyzed vocal chord and broken ribs when his cardboard craft, “The Hay Bale Destroyers,” plowed through a set of foam pads and a mesh fence, then slammed into an ice stopping wall at the 2002 Cardboard Derby at Copper Mountain.The derby competition, which has since been canceled, challenged teams to construct vehicles out of cardboard and tape, then navigate the vehicle down a ski slope. When Fountain’s craft crashed, the force sent Fountain’s teammates flying forward into him, and he collided with the wall.He was hospitalized for two months Denver, where he underwent numerous surgeries, then spent another month in a rehabilitation facility.In July 2004, he sued for negligence, saying the defendants inadequately designed the derby course causing an unreasonable risk to participants, while Pamela claimed a loss of consortium arguing that she experienced a loss of companionship due to Gary’s injuries.The defendants denied the claims on the grounds that Copper Mountain was protected by the Ski Safety Act, and that the waiver Fountain signed prior to participating in the event barred his claims.The case worked its way through the system before both parties agreed to the undisclosed settlement at a mandatory settlement conference on Nov. 21.At that time, Fountain said he and his wife realized settling would be their wisest option.”It didn’t look real hopeful and the downside risk was real significant,” he said, referring to the possibility of losing the jury trial and being responsible for paying all the defendants’ attorney fees. Fountain said his negligence claim had already been dismissed at the time of settlement, and he decided against an appeal because he would’ve had to prove that the defendants were “willful and wanton” in their negligence. That task would’ve been difficult because of the protection to ski resorts offered by legislation, such as the Ski Safety Act, and the two waivers he signed prior to the event, he said.Fountain is now back to work almost full-time and off his pain medication, but he’ll experience lifelong effects from his accident – the sports he used to enjoy like skiing, mountain biking and rollerblading are difficult because he’s lost feeling in his right leg and his lung capacity has dropped.”I’ll never run up a flight of stairs again, I’ll never jog again, there’s a lot of stuff I can’t do,” he said.

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