Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Summary 2012 WY 62

Summary of Decision April 25, 2012

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Docket Number: S‑11‑0101, S-11-0245

Appeal from the District Court of Teton County, Honorable Timothy C. Day, Judge

Representing Appellant (Plaintiff/Defendant): Gerard R. Bosch of Law Offices of Jerry Bosch, LLC, Wilson, Wyoming

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff/Defendant): Katherine L. Mead of Mead & Mead, Jackson, Wyoming

Date of Decision: April 25, 2012

Facts: These consolidated appeals arise from a judgment on jury verdict in a case involving personal injuries suffered by Appellant Marcia Beckwith.  She fell from a horse while on a trail ride operated by the Gros Ventre River Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.  The jury found that Ms. Beckwith’s injuries were the result of an inherent risk of horseback riding as defined by the Wyoming Recreation Safety Act, and she therefore recovered no damages for her injuries.   In Case No. S-11-0101, Ms. Beckwith claims the district court erred in failing to instruct the jury as she requested.  In Case No. S-11-0245, she claims the district court erred in awarding costs to Appellees due to her indigence. 

Issues: In Case No. S-11-0101, the issues are:

1.                 Did the District Court err when it declined to instruct the jury that a duty of care could arise from a contract and in refusing a verdict form which would have asked the jury to determine if Appellees provided skilled guides?

2.                 Did the District Court err in declining to instruct the jury on the meaning of the terms “characteristic,” “intrinsic,” and “integral” as they are used to define the term “inherent risk” in the Wyoming Recreation Safety Act?

3.                 Did the District Court err in declining to instruct the jury that exculpatory clauses are to be strictly construed?

4.                 Did the District Court err in declining to instruct the jury that Appellant was exercising due care at the time she was injured?

In Case No. S-11-0245, the issue is:

1.         Did the District Court abuse its discretion in awarding costs to Appellees?

Holdings: The district court properly instructed the jury as to Appellant’s claims, and also provided an appropriate form of special verdict for the jury’s use.  The award of costs it made was not an abuse of discretion.  The judgment of the district court and its order awarding costs were affirmed. 

District Judge Davis delivered the opinion for the court.

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