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Willink v. Boyne USA, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division

December 17, 2013

JOHN WILLINK, Plaintiff,
v.
BOYNE USA, INC., Defendant

For John Willink, Plaintiff: Anna Bidegaray, Daniel B. Bidegaray, BIDEGARAY LAW FIRM, Bozeman, MT.

For Boyne USA, Inc., Defendant: Ian McIntosh, Kelsey E. Bunkers, CROWLEY FLECK, Bozeman, MT.

OPINION

ORDER

Dana L. Christensen, Chief District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff John Willink's motion for partial summary judgment. Willink contends that American National Standards Institute (" ANSI" ) standard B77.1 applies to this matter, and moves the Court to rule on three specific duties B77.1 imposes upon Defendant Boyne as a matter of law. The Court will deny the motion for the reasons explained below.

Factual and Procedural Background

On March 28, 2010, John Willink was injured attempting to unload from the Shedhorn chairlift at Big Sky Resort, which is owned by Boyne, USA. Willink filed this negligence action in the Montana Eighteenth Judicial District Court, and Boyne removed it to this Court in October, 2012. Willink alleges negligence on three bases. First, that Boyne failed to construct the lift unload ramp in accordance with safety standards, in that it was not fitted with an inclined guard. Next, that Boyne's employee failed to stop the lift when a passenger in front of Willink fell on the ramp, thus creating a hazardous

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situation. And finally, that the lift's unload area does not comply with applicable standards regarding the positioning of emergency stop controls. The parties dispute many of the facts surrounding the March 28, 2010 incident on the Shedhorn lift that resulted in Mr. Willink's injury.

Willink now moves the Court for a ruling that ANSI B77.1 is the source of the legal duties Boyne owed to him, and asks the Court to interpret ANSI B77.1 as a legal standard to determine what those specific duties are. Willink argues that because interpreting ANSI B77.1 presents a question of law, expert opinion or interpretation is improper.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper if the moving party demonstrates " that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of " the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted).

The movant's burden is satisfied when the documentary evidence produced by the parties permits only one conclusion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Where the moving party has met its initial burden, the party opposing the motion " may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but . . . must set forth specific facts ...


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