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Resort Promises Safety Improvements after Zip Line Shutdown in 2009

After three years of litigation, a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Heavenly Mountain Resort and other companies over the death of a man who fell from a chairlift has been settled for an undisclosed amount. The lawsuit stated that a 51-year-old man fell approximately 40 feet to his death in August 2009 after falling from the chairlift of a zip line ride. The suit alleged that the man was killed when a worn-out, 6,200-foot rope was picked up by strong winds and became entangled in the chairlift. The lawsuit alleged a combination of safety failures, including insufficient training and staffing, improper ride operation, inattentiveness and poor oversight. Additionally, the suit claimed Heavenly was operating the ride in strong winds exceeding a 30-mile-per-hour limit set by the manufacturer and did not regularly inspect the rope’s condition and tension as instructed by the manufacturer.

According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Jason Sigel, the monetary aspect was secondary for this family. “They were much more concerned with being able to hold Heavenly accountable, and are pleased with having been able to do that,” said Sigel. As part of the settlement, Heavenly admitted some mistakes and agreed to fix them before reopening the ride. Owners also agreed to change training, staffing, operating and drug-testing procedures and make various safety improvements, including regular equipment inspections and shutting down the zip line in high winds. The ride has been closed since the incident.

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