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Kopeikin v. Moonlight Basin Management, LLC

United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division

February 9, 2015

BRIAN KOPEIKIN, M.D., Plaintiff,
v.
MOONLIGHT BASIN MANAGEMENT, LLC, D/B/A MOONLIGHT BA IN RESORT, Defendant

For Brian Kopeikin, M.D., Plaintiff: Edward P. Moriarity, MORIARITY BADARUDDIN & BOOKE, LLC, Missoula, MT.

For Moonlight Basin Management, LLC doing business as Moonlight Basin Resort, Defendant: Ian McIntosh, LEAD ATTORNEY, CROWLEY FLECK, Bozeman, MT.

Page 1104

ORDER

Dana L. Christensen, Chief United States District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons explained, the Court grants the motion.

Synopsis

Plaintiff Dr. Brian Kopeikin (" Kopeikin" ) was injured in a skiing accident in Montana. Kopeikin is a resident of California. He brought this diversity action against Defendant Montana ski area operator Moonlight Basin Management, LLC (" Moonlight" ) asserting a claim for negligence sounding in premises liability and a claim for negligent hiring, training, supervision and management.

Earlier in the litigation, Moonlight moved to dismiss the Complaint asserting that it failed to state a claim under Montana's skier responsibility statute, Montana Code Annotated § 23-2-736, because even as alleged all of Kopeikin's injuries resulted from the inherent dangers and risks of skiing. The Court denied the motion.

Now before the Court is Moonlight's motion for summary judgment, and a fully-developed record in which several of Kopeikin's key allegations from the Complaint are conclusively rebutted. On this updated evidentiary record, the Court concludes that Moonlight acted consistent with its duty of reasonable care and that all of Kopeikin's injuries resulted from the inherent dangers and risks of skiing. Accordingly, Moonlight is entitled to judgment as a matter of law and its motion for summary judgment is granted.

Factual Background[1]

On February 5, 2012, Kopeikin and his skiing partner, Sven Rose, purchased lift tickets to ski Moonlight Basin ski resort. Near the ticket booth where Kopeikin purchased his ticket is a sign warning skiers of unmarked hazards. Kopeikin is a very experienced skier, having skied at several ski resorts throughout the Rocky Mountain West over the past 36 years, and he had seen similar signs at other ski resorts warning patrons of unmarked hazards. Kopeikin knew that the presence of rocks is common at ski areas in the Rocky Mountains, such as Moonlight, and he did not expect that all hazards at Moonlight would be marked.

Skiing conditions at Moonlight on February 5, 2012, were generally good, with

Page 1105

clear skies, calm winds, and temperatures near thirty-two degrees. However, it was a low snow coverage year, and Kopeikin acknowledges that prior to his accident he saw uncovered rocks on the sides ...


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