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HF 1865

1st Engrossment - 87th Legislature (2011 - 2012) Posted on 03/14/2012 04:57pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.

Bill Text Versions

Engrossments
Introduction Posted on 01/13/2012
1st Engrossment Posted on 03/14/2012

Current Version - 1st Engrossment

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A bill for an act
relating to skier liability; establishing standards; limiting liability in certain
circumstances; proposing coding for new law as Minnesota Statutes, chapter
184C.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

new text begin [184C.01] TITLE.
new text end

new text begin This chapter constitutes the "Minnesota Ski Safety Act."
new text end

Sec. 2.

new text begin [184C.02] DEFINITIONS.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Application. new text end

new text begin As used in this chapter, the terms defined in this section
have the meanings given them.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin ANSI Ski Lift Code. new text end

new text begin "ANSI Ski Lift Code" means the American National
Standard for Passenger Ropeways-Aerial Tramways, Aerial Lifts, Surface Lifts, Tows and
Conveyors Safety Requirements, B77.1-2011, as published by the American National
Standards Institute.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Competition. new text end

new text begin "Competition" means any event operated by a ski area
operator or any other party authorized by the ski area operator at a ski area involving
comparison of skills, including a ski race, mogul contest, jumping event, freestyle event,
snowcross contest, or other similar contest or event. Competition includes training
sessions for a contest or event.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Training session. new text end

new text begin "Training session" means skiing by a skier who is
registered to participate in a competition and who engages in skiing for the purposes
of preparing for the competition.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Conditions and risks of skiing. new text end

new text begin "Conditions and risks of skiing" means:
new text end

new text begin (1) changes in weather and visibility;
new text end

new text begin (2) surface or subsurface conditions, including, but not limited to, snow in any
condition, ice, crust, slush, soft spots, ridges, rollers, knobs, holes, grooves, tracks from
ski area vehicles, bare spots, rocks, boulders, stumps, and logs, brush, or other forest
growth or debris or piles thereof;
new text end

new text begin (3) variations in difficulty of terrain and surface and subsurface conditions on a
single trail or route or within a single trail difficulty designation category at a ski area
or from one ski area to another;
new text end

new text begin (4) ski trails that have, fall away, or drop off toward natural or man-made obstacles
or hazards including, but not limited to, sharp corners, ridges, jumps, bumps, rollers,
moguls, valleys, dips, compressions, cliffs, ravines, drop-offs, streams, rivers, ponds,
lakes, stream beds, open water or water with thin ice, holes, steep sections, flat sections,
and uphill sections, and all variants and combinations thereof;
new text end

new text begin (5) the potential for collision with other skiers, spectators, or persons, including ski
area personnel, or with equipment such as ski area infrastructure and stationary or moving
ski area vehicles, not including a collision:
new text end

new text begin (i) that is caused by the failure of the ski area operator to comply with the
requirements of this chapter; or
new text end

new text begin (ii) with ski area vehicles, ski area infrastructure, or ski area personnel that could
not have been avoided by a reasonably prudent skier who complies with the requirements
of this chapter;
new text end

new text begin (6) the location, construction, design, layout, configuration, and condition of ski
trails, freestyle terrain, competition terrain, and tree skiing areas;
new text end

new text begin (7) that use of ski trails, freestyle terrain, competition terrain, and tree skiing areas
and participation in or being near races or other competitions or events, including but not
limited to participation as a skier, employee, spectator, or observer, involves the risk of
serious injury to person or property or death; and
new text end

new text begin (8) any other equivalent, comparable, or similar conditions or risks not referenced in
clauses (1) through (7).
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Freestyle terrain. new text end

new text begin "Freestyle terrain" means terrain that includes, but is
not limited to, terrain parks and terrain park features such as rails, boxes, jumps, hits,
jibs, tabletops, spines, ramps, banks, half-pipes, quarter-pipes, picnic tables, logs, pipes,
snowcross terrain and features, and other constructed or natural features, but does not
include moguls, bumps or rollers, or jumps not built by the ski area operator, unless they
are within a designated terrain park area.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. new text end

new text begin Qualified lift inspector. new text end

new text begin "Qualified lift inspector" means a person
knowledgeable of the requirements of the ANSI Ski Lift Code and the design and
operation of ski lifts who is either a professional engineer registered in any state or
territory of the United States or who has been or is engaged as a lift inspector for an
insurance company that provides or has provided insurance coverage to any ski area.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 8. new text end

new text begin Ski area. new text end

new text begin "Ski area" means all ski trails or other areas of real property used
by skiers that is administered as a single enterprise by a ski area operator.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 9. new text end

new text begin Ski area infrastructure. new text end

new text begin "Ski area infrastructure" means the following
when the infrastructure is owned, leased, or operated by a ski area operator:
new text end

new text begin (1) ski lifts and any associated components including, but not limited to, lift towers,
concrete tower foundations, tower bolts, tower ladders, lift terminals, chairs, t-bars,
gondolas, conveyors, and other structures relating to ski lifts;
new text end

new text begin (2) snowmaking equipment;
new text end

new text begin (3) buildings, shacks, fixtures, furniture, and other structures, including utility
infrastructure, located on the ski area property; and
new text end

new text begin (4) signs, fences, ropes, flags, posts, and any other materials or structures used for
posting signs or to manage or direct skiers and spectators.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 10. new text end

new text begin Ski area operator. new text end

new text begin "Ski area operator" means any entity or person that
has responsibility for the operations of a ski area and the owners, partners and members,
managers, employees, agents, and affiliates and assigns of the entity or person.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 11. new text end

new text begin Ski area vehicles. new text end

new text begin "Ski area vehicles" means vehicles owned, leased, or
operated by a ski area operator that are used in the operation and maintenance of ski areas
and competitions or used in the transportation of skiers or other persons within the ski area.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 12. new text end

new text begin Skier. new text end

new text begin "Skier" means an individual of any age or physical or mental ability
who is engaged in skiing, or is a spectator while any individuals are engaged in skiing.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 13. new text end

new text begin Skier responsibility code. new text end

new text begin "Skier responsibility code" means the
following statement:
new text end

new text begin "(1) Always stay in control.
new text end

new text begin (2) People ahead of you have the right of way.
new text end

new text begin (3) Stop in a safe place for you and others.
new text end

new text begin (4) Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
new text end

new text begin (5) Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
new text end

new text begin (6) Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
new text end

new text begin (7) Know how to use the lifts safely.
new text end

new text begin KNOW THE CODE. IT'S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY."
new text end

new text begin Subd. 14. new text end

new text begin Spectator or observer. new text end

new text begin "Spectator" or "observer" means an individual
who is present on a ski trail for the purpose of observing a competition or observing or
accompanying a skier engaged in the act of skiing.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 15. new text end

new text begin Skiing. new text end

new text begin "Skiing" means:
new text end

new text begin (1) using a ski trail or other terrain at or near a ski area for sliding, jumping,
walking, or traveling for alpine, snowboarding, telemark, snowshoeing or nordic skiing,
tobogganing, sledding, or tubing, or use of a minibob, tray, snowbike, or comparable
device; or
new text end

new text begin (2) being a passenger on a ski lift.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 16. new text end

new text begin Ski lift. new text end

new text begin "Ski lift" means any chairlift, gondola, tramway, cable car, or
other aerial lift and any rope tow, conveyor, t-bar, j-bar, handle tow, or other surface
lift used by a ski area operator to transport skiers, tubing participants, spectators, or
pedestrians at a ski area.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 17. new text end

new text begin Designated ski trail; ski trail; trail. new text end

new text begin "Designated ski trail," "ski trail," or
"trail" means any slope, trail, run, freestyle terrain, competition terrain, tree skiing areas,
and tubing park areas or any other area at or near a ski area that is used by skiers for skiing
as designated by the trail map required in section 184C.03, and includes edges, transition
areas to other terrain, and areas used for loading and unloading ski lifts.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 18. new text end

new text begin Snowmaking equipment. new text end

new text begin "Snowmaking equipment" means any
snowmaking machine, snow gun, or snow or water stick and any associated towers,
components, pipe, hydrant, hose, or other structures.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 19. new text end

new text begin Tubing park. new text end

new text begin "Tubing park" means an area designated by a ski area
operator for sliding on inflatable tubes, minibobs, sleds, toboggans, or any comparable
devices down a prepared course or lanes at a ski area.
new text end

Sec. 3.

new text begin [184C.03] SKI AREA OPERATOR RESPONSIBILITIES.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Required signage; notice of risks. new text end

new text begin (a) Each ski area shall post and
maintain a reasonably visible sign at least six square feet in size at or near each of the
ski area's ticket sales buildings that states:
new text end

new text begin "WARNING: ASSUMPTION OF RISKS AND LIABILITY FOR INJURY:
new text end

new text begin Under the Minnesota Ski Safety Act, a skier is deemed to have accepted and to have
knowledge of the risk of injury to person or property that may result. Under this act, every
skier has the responsibility to take precautions necessary to avoid injury to person or
property. The Minnesota Ski Safety Act sets forth certain other limitations on the liability
of ski areas for injuries to person or property or death of skiers. A complete copy of this
act is available for review in the ticket sales or customer service area of this ski area. An
action for any injury to person or property or death against a ski area operator shall be
commenced within two years after the incident or earliest of incidents giving rise to the
action and shall be preceded by a notice of intent to file a claim, sent via certified or
registered mail, return receipt requested, that is received by the ski area operator within
180 days of such incident. The notice shall include the time, place, and circumstances of
the incident, and the names of the individuals known to be involved or known to have
witnessed the incident."
new text end

new text begin (b) Each ski area ticket sales building shall provide a copy of the skier responsibility
code, and a copy of this chapter in its entirety, to any skier upon request.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Required notice; tickets and season passes. new text end

new text begin Every ski area shall print on
each ticket or season pass issued by the ski area for skiing the following statement:
new text end

new text begin "WARNING: Under the Minnesota Ski Safety Act, each skier:
new text end

new text begin (1) assumes the risk of injury to person or property or death resulting from conditions
and risks deemed to be inherent to this recreational activity;
new text end

new text begin (2) has a number of responsibilities to adhere to while skiing; and
new text end

new text begin (3) is subject to limitations on the ability to recover damages against a ski area
operator for injuries to person or property or death of a skier.
new text end

new text begin A complete copy of this act and the skier responsibility code are available for review
in the ticket sales or customer service area of this ski area. An action for any injury to
person or property or death against a ski area operator shall be commenced within two
years after the incident or earliest of incidents giving rise to the action and shall be
preceded by a notice of intent to file a claim, sent via certified or registered mail, return
receipt requested, that is received by the ski area operator within 180 days of such incident.
The notice shall include the time, place, and circumstances of the incident, and the names
of the individuals known to be involved or known to have witnessed the incident."
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Required signage; difficulty levels. new text end

new text begin (a) Every ski area operator shall
install and maintain at or near the beginning of each designated ski trail a sign that
contains the name of the trail and any of the applicable difficulty level words and emblems
contained in this subdivision, as determined by the ski area operator. The sign must be at
least six square feet in size if the ski area encompasses 150 acres or more, and at least
three square feet in size if the ski area encompasses less than 150 acres. As applicable,
the signs shall state:
new text end

new text begin (1) "Easiest," and include a green circle emblem;
new text end

new text begin (2) "Difficult" or "More Difficult," and include a blue square emblem;
new text end

new text begin (3) "Most Difficult," and include a black diamond emblem;
new text end

new text begin (4) "Expert" or "Extreme Terrain," and include a two black diamond emblem;
new text end

new text begin (5) "Freestyle Terrain," and include an orange oval emblem; or
new text end

new text begin (6) "Tree skiing - CAUTION," designed with an orange background color or orange
lettering with black or white background, and the additional statement "This back country
is not groomed or patrolled - Never ski alone."
new text end

new text begin (b) Directional arrows may be included on any sign, but must be included if the sign
is located at such a distance or position relative to the beginning of a trail that it would not
be understandable by a reasonably prudent skier without directional arrows.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Trail maps. new text end

new text begin (a) Each ski area operator shall provide trail maps at least
eight inches by 11 inches in unfolded size. The maps must be easily accessible to skiers.
new text end

new text begin (b) If the designated ski trails encompass more than 150 acres, the operator shall
post at least one reasonably visible trail map board at least 32 square feet in size at, near,
or en route to the principal chalet.
new text end

new text begin (c) All trail maps shall indicate the skill level designations for each respective trail
consistent with the standards provided in subdivision 3.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Freestyle terrain. new text end

new text begin (a) A ski area operator must construct a barricade
through fencing, flagging, or similar means at the entrance to any ski trail containing
freestyle terrain. The barricade must contain an entrance opening not wider than 30 feet.
new text end

new text begin (b) The ski area operator shall post at or near the route to the entrance a reasonably
visible sign at least three square feet in size that indicates the location of the freestyle
terrain. The sign shall be denoted by an orange oval emblem, a stop sign emblem,
the statement "Freestyle Skills Required," and either "Helmets are recommended"
or "Consider wearing a helmet." The sign shall also include any freestyle language
recommended by the National Ski Areas Association.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Tubing park. new text end

new text begin (a) Each ski area operator that operates a tubing park shall
install and maintain reasonably visible signs at least six square feet in size, as follows:
new text end

new text begin (1) at, near, or on the route to the loading area of the tubing park ski lift or entrance
to the tubing park, a sign that includes the statement:
new text end

new text begin "WARNING: Under the Minnesota Ski Safety Act, each participant and rider in
a tubing park:
new text end

new text begin (1) assumes the risk of injury to person or property or death resulting from conditions
and risks deemed to be inherent to this recreational activity;
new text end

new text begin (2) has a number of responsibilities to adhere to while tubing; and
new text end

new text begin (3) is subject to limitations on the ability to recover damages against the tubing area
operator in the event of injury to person or property or death.
new text end

new text begin A complete copy of this act is available for review in the ticket sales or customer
service area of this tubing park. An action for any injury to person or property or death
against a ski area operator shall be commenced within two years after the incident or
earliest of incidents giving rise to the action and shall be preceded by a notice of intent to
file a claim, sent via certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, that is received
by the ski area operator within 180 days of such incident. The notice shall include the
time, place, and circumstances of the incident, and the names of the individuals known to
be involved or known to have witnessed the incident."; and
new text end

new text begin (2) at or near the route to the loading area of the tubing park ski lift or the entrance to
the tubing park, a sign that includes the statement:
new text end

new text begin "WARNING: TUBING PARTICIPANT RESPONSIBILITIES: Under the Minnesota
Ski Safety Act, each tubing park participant or rider is responsible for:
new text end

new text begin (1) knowing the range of one's ability to negotiate and control one's speed down the
tubing area and observing all posted information, signs, and other warnings;
new text end

new text begin (2) assessing the surface conditions, layout, steepness, and difficulty of the tubing
trail by observing the trail and the descent of other riders and participants;
new text end

new text begin (3) tubing within one's ability and maintaining control of speed and direction at all
times by such steps as dragging one's feet and observing limits on weight and the number
of other riders on the same tube; and
new text end

new text begin (4) attaining the knowledge and ability to safely load, ride, and unload the tubing
park ski lift before boarding such lift and to not load or unload from such lift except at
designated areas."
new text end

new text begin (b) A ski area operator may also comply with this subdivision by maintaining
one sign of at least 12 square feet in size at or near the route to the loading area of the
tubing park ski lift or entrance to the tubing park that contains both warnings provided in
paragraph (a).
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. new text end

new text begin Lift signs. new text end

new text begin (a) If any of the ski lifts at a ski area do not service ski trails that
are designated by the ski area operator as "easiest," the ski area operator shall place at,
near, or on the route to the loading area of the lift a reasonably visible sign at least six
square feet in size that states the following statement:
new text end

new text begin "WARNING: This lift does not service any trails that are "easiest" (green circle
emblem); all of the trails serviced by this lift are as applicable "more difficult" (blue
square emblem), "most difficult" (black diamond emblem), "expert" (two black diamond
emblem), or "freestyle terrain" (orange oval emblem)."
new text end

new text begin (b) This subdivision does not apply to tubing areas.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 8. new text end

new text begin Ski area vehicles. new text end

new text begin (a) All ski area vehicles present on designated ski trails
that are open to skiers during operating hours of the ski lifts at a ski area must have an
operating flashing light on or near the top of the vehicle whenever the vehicle is present
on a designated ski trail. All snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, and any other similarly
sized vehicles present on designated ski trails that are open to skiers during operating
hours of the ski lifts at a ski area must, in addition, have a red or orange flag that is at least
40 square inches in size and mounted at least five feet from the bottom of the tracks or
tires while the vehicle is present on a designated ski trail.
new text end

new text begin (b) A ski area operator is not liable for injury to person or property or death resulting
from a collision with a ski area vehicle equipped as in paragraph (a) that is not on a
designated ski trail, or with a ski area vehicle when a designated ski trail is closed to skiers.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 9. new text end

new text begin Variations of signs. new text end

new text begin A ski area operator may vary from the specific
requirements set forth in this section related to posting of signs, provided that a reasonably
prudent skier abiding by all of the skier's responsibilities would be able to find and
understand the sign.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 10. new text end

new text begin Ski lift inspections. new text end

new text begin (a) During or prior to each ski season, but at least
once every 15 months, each ski area operator shall have all ski lifts in the operator's
ski area inspected by a qualified lift inspector for compliance with the requirements of
the ANSI Ski Lift Code.
new text end

new text begin (b) A ski area operator shall not be considered a common carrier under Minnesota
law, but shall be responsible for any injury to person or property, or death of a skier
sustained in a ski lift accident, if such incident is caused by the operator's failure to
comply with any mandatory provision of the ANSI Ski Lift Code or by the ski area
operator's negligence.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 11. new text end

new text begin Accessibility of information. new text end

new text begin The information required to be maintained
on a sign, trail map, ticket, or season pass under this section must be provided in an
accessible format to persons with disabilities upon request.
new text end

Sec. 4.

new text begin [184C.04] SKIER RESPONSIBILITIES; LIMITED OPERATOR
LIABILITY.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Duties of skiers. new text end

new text begin (a) A skier at all times has a duty to comply with
each element of the skier responsibility code. A skier shall be presumed to have seen
and understood all postings, signs, and other warnings provided by the ski area operator
consistent with the requirements of this chapter.
new text end

new text begin (b) A person who engages in the act of skiing and is not authorized by the ski area
operator to use or be present at the ski area is a trespasser.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Helmets. new text end

new text begin It is the responsibility of each skier to determine whether to wear
a helmet and to properly size, fit, and secure the helmet. Each skier is presumed as a
matter of law to know and assume the risk that failure to wear a helmet that is properly
sized, fit, and secured increases the risk of injury or death or the risk of a more severe
injury, and that helmets may not always be available for purchase or rental at ski areas.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Release of liability. new text end

new text begin Notwithstanding any other law, in any action brought
by a skier against a ski area operator, if the skier has signed a valid release of liability,
such release shall be effective so long as it is not ambiguous.
new text end

new text begin Nothing in this section shall be construed as releasing a ski area operator for
damages caused by gross negligence or reckless or intentional acts.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Assumption of risks. new text end

new text begin (a) A skier assumes knowledge of all conditions and
risks of skiing, even if a particular risk or condition was not specifically presented or stated
by the ski area operator to the skier. A ski area operator who substantially adheres to the
requirements of this chapter is not subject to liability for injury to or death of a person, or
injury to property occurring as a result of the conditions and risks of skiing.
new text end

new text begin (b) A court shall interpret this subdivision, and the definitions provided in section
184C.02, broadly. Whether a particular circumstance or set of circumstances meets the
definition of "conditions and risks of skiing" shall be determined as a question of law.
new text end

Sec. 5.

new text begin [184C.05] STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS; NOTICE OF CLAIM.
new text end

new text begin An action for any injury to skier or property or death against a ski area operator shall
be commenced within two years after the incident or earliest of incidents giving rise to
the action and shall be preceded by a notice of intent to file a claim, sent via certified or
registered mail, return receipt requested, that is received by the ski area operator within
180 days of such incident. The notice shall include the time, place, and circumstances
of the incident, and the names of the individuals known to be involved and known to
have witnessed the incident.
new text end

Sec. 6. new text beginEFFECTIVE DATE.
new text end

new text begin This act is effective August 1, 2012, and applies to all actions arising out of incidents
occurring on or after that date.
new text end