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Judge Refuses Dismissal of Skiing Lawsuit Against Dartmouth University

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Dartmouth University recently requested an end to a lawsuit filed by the father of Christina Porter, a student who died in January 2005 after sustaining head injuries during a university skiing class. However, the judge refused to dismiss the case.

Porter was enrolled in a beginning ski class to complete the University’s physical education requirement during the spring semester of 2004. Apparently, she skied into a tree at the Dartmouth Skiway, where the class was held. She was immediately taken to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where she remained in a coma for the next six months and eventually died the following January. Porter’s parents allege that the course instructors were negligent in allowing their daughter to ski without a helmet down a winding, wooded slope that was “too difficult for her”. They also argue that Dartmouth was responsible for their daughter’s wellbeing because she was enrolled in a College class during the time of the incident.

Dartmouth, in its request for the dismissal of the lawsuit, argued that it was devoid or responsibility for the accident because Porter signed a liability release. However, the judge denied the request last week, stating that the form did not notify the user that they were relieving the college of legal responsibility in case of an accident. At the time of the accident, adult skiers were not required to wear helmets at the Skiway. However, Dartmouth has since begun requiring all students enrolled in ski or snowboarding classes to wear protective helmets since 2004.