Snowmobile Club Liable in Trail Fatality
July 19, 2005
Filed under Uncategorized
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled against a non-profit snowmobile club and its trail groomer in a lawsuit stemming from an accident in 2001 that killed a 15-year-old sledder on a trail which runs from Portland, Maine, through New Hampshire to Montreal, Quebec. It is a ruling that could affect other powersports trails throughout the nation.
Brody Kenison died after he ran into a stationary grooming machine owned by the Waumbek Methna Snowmobile Club.
Kenison’s family sued the club and the groomer, Andre Dubois, in 2003. The Kenison family’s lawyer said Dubois was taking a break from grooming and had parked the machine below the crest of a hill, in a spot unseen to snowmobilers traversing the trail.
The Waumbek Methna Snowmobile Club has maintained the trail for over 20 years.
The club and Dubois said they were immune from liability under state law because they qualified as occupants of the land. A lower court agreed, so the family appealed.
The state Supreme Court, in a 5-0 ruling issued July 18, disagreed with Waumbek’s characterization, saying the club and groomer could not be regarded as occupants because they didn’t have the authority to give people permission to use the land.