A Vancouver man is suing Whistler Blackcomb, claiming the resort’s negligence is to blame for injuries he allegedly sustained after falling from a chairlift almost seven years ago.
According to a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court Sept. 13, plaintiff Bryan Phu Manh Tran is seeking damages for the pain, suffering and costs he has incurred since Dec. 3, 2016.
The incident made headlines in December 2016 thanks to a video capturing the dramatic fall. Footage showed lift attendants setting up a “fireman’s net” to catch the snowboarder as he dangled from Whistler Mountain’s Emerald Express Chair. The rescue subject fell several metres before hitting the side of the net and landing on the snow-covered slope.
In a Pique article published following the incident, representatives for Whistler Blackcomb confirmed a 14-year-old male suffered injuries to his lower back after apparently slipping from the chair, and said the restraining bar was not lowered at the time.
The snowboarder was reportedly brought to the Whistler Health Care Centre and released shortly after.
A statement of facts filed on behalf of the plaintiff makes no mention of a restraining bar, but claims Tran was seated on a chairlift and “conducting himself in a safe and prudent manner” when he fell to the ground.
The lawsuit says the fall resulted in a fractured spine and a concussion, as well as other injuries to Tran's head, neck, shoulders, pelvis, knees and legs. Those injuries have led to long-term physical effects including an altered gait, chronic pain and fatigue, psychological injuries, and an increased risk of degenerative changes like dementia, according to the lawsuit.
“The Injuries have caused and continue to cause the plaintiff pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent physical disability, loss of physical, mental, and emotional health, loss of earnings, past and prospective, loss of competitive advantage, loss of opportunity to earn income, loss of income earning capacity, and a shortened working life,” the notice reads, in addition to “past and future loss of housekeeping and home maintenance capacity, care, and support services.”
The lawsuit names four defendants: the resort, its land owner and a pair of property management companies it says were in charge of inspections and maintenance on the premises.
The court filing goes on to lay out a list of 30 specific ways Tran says the mountain operator and its staff breached their duties to keep him safe. His accusations include failing to provide adequate supervision when loading and unloading the chairlift, hiring incompetent employees, failing to employ a reasonable inspection or maintenance system, and failing to rescue Tran in a timely manner.
None of these allegations have been proven in court. No official responses to the lawsuit were filed as of Sept. 21.