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  1. #1
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    Personal injury lawyer sues over his MTB injuries

    So, just so I understand here, you buy a mountain bike, you go offroad, you fall, and it is the owner of the land's fault? Finally my ship has come in. I have a whole list to start suing. Lets see, there were the scrapes from the trees not cut back yesterday. I broke my helmet after missing a small bridge a while back. Wait, I did endo my fixie when I got distracted and quit pedaling. That was on a city street. I can sue the city for not having padded streets!

    Lawsuit a threat to trails
    CYCLISTS FEAR FOR SPORT
    By TRACY MCLAUGHLIN, SPECIAL TO THE SUN

    A MOUNTAIN biker who launched a million-dollar lawsuit after falling off his bike has lit a fire under Collingwood area bike enthusiasts who fear the suit will close their trails. James Leone is suing the Toronto Outing Club and its Kolapore Uplands Wilderness Ski Trails Committee as well as the Town of The Blue Mountains, the Grey-Bruce Trails Network and the province for an accident he had while mountain biking last August.

    The 31-year-old personal injury lawyer from Toronto claims he suffered fractured vertebrae and several soft-tissue injuries when his bicycle came to an abrupt stop after hitting a hole in the trail, sending him over the handlebars.

    "It's a crying shame," said "die-hard" mountain biker Mark Derrick, who helped organize a meeting of concerned bikers in Collingwood yesterday.

    "We have hundreds of miles of amazing trails in this area and most of us realize that if you take on this sport, you take on a challenge and a risk." He said his wife, Lynn, has dislocated her shoulder by falling on the trails twice but never considered a lawsuit.

    "This suit does cause a concern that the trails will be threatened," said trail specialist with the International Mountain Bike Association, Laura Woolner. "The case could set a precedent for other cases in Ontario and that could have an enormous impact on non-profit clubs who will have to purchase huge amounts of insurance to keep trails open. Essentially it could shut them down," she said.
    "Kurt is up in heaven now."

    RIP Vonnegut

  2. #2
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    look ..... I can't tell you how sick I am of hearing about the FILING of a lawsuit ... that doesn't mean shyte .... take you "the plebians are attacking" right wing poop and tell it to the wife, someone who will care ...

    We don't know anything about the hole, and we don't have a judgement. Therefore we know nothing.

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wasatch Walt
    look ..... I can't tell you how sick I am of hearing about the FILING of a lawsuit ... that doesn't mean shyte .... take you "the plebians are attacking" right wing poop and tell it to the wife, someone who will care ...

    We don't know anything about the hole, and we don't have a judgement. Therefore we know nothing.
    We do know that people should take responsibility for their actions.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    We do know that people should take responsibility for their actions.
    no we don't .... we don't know the nature of the hole .... this is inexact and ancedotal, but there USED to be two waterbars on a certain hill on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail ... waterbars are very tricky in that they are sometimes hard to see from a distance, they do a total suspension compression, are completely unnatural in form and the exit leaves you hanging if you don't know how to precompress the bike, and if the wavelength is totally wrong for your speed .... one day I'm riding along, and there is a guy being extricated by SAR, and it looks like his neck is snapped ... soon thereafter the waterbars were gone ... his fault as a novice rider? Or poor idea by the trail builders?

    There is a mine subsidence hole on upper something or other in Park City. The leadin is off camber, the hole cannot been seen, the hole in on a turn, the trail runs 4" from the lip, the hole is vertical about 8' deep if you carry any extra speed, you will have one of the worst crashes of your life .... somebody dropped a tiny little sign that says CAUTION on the off camber. Whose fault if you don't know the trail, don't see the sign? Yours? Can you have the worse crash of your life? Absolutely.

    We know nothing ... you draw a little pic in your head of some normal little hole, but we know totally nothing about it's severity, it's origin and so on. Probably the lawyer is full of shyte, and the suit will be dismissed, but we don't know the facts and the alarm is sounded in the article, but the facts are not present.

    I call these "the plebians are attacking" articles. There is always a after taste of hysteria and how CRAZY people can be .. but let's take McDonalds. The coffee was 2 deg below boiling. If you spilled it, and you ARE driving a car, you WILL have your whole crotch burned, and it could be a 1st deg burn. Whose fault? ... Nobody drinks coffee that hot, you can't. ... WHY was the coffee so hot???

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wasatch Walt
    We know nothing ... you draw a little pic in your head of some normal little hole, but we know totally nothing about it's severity, it's origin and so on. Probably the lawyer is full of shyte, and the suit will be dismissed, but we don't know the facts and the alarm is sounded in the article, but the facts are not present.
    The problem, Walt, is just in the suit having been filed, because it's getting publicity among all kinds of groups, including the "close the trails to MTBs" crowd. We've all heard that the suit has been filed but chances are we WON'T hear when the suit is dismissed. What's more, we're a fairly in-tune group. Most people aren't.

    Once the gossip mill gets ahold of this it'll go wild. Unfortunately, the fact that this jerk doesn't understand that suing people IS NOT the answer to ANYTHING could very well threaten all of us who are fighting against conflicts/closures with other users.
    Don't ask me a question unless you really want to hear what I think.

  7. #7
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    Walt, unless it's a frickin' booby-trap...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasatch Walt
    look ..... I can't tell you how sick I am of hearing about the FILING of a lawsuit ... that doesn't mean shyte .... take you "the plebians are attacking" right wing poop and tell it to the wife, someone who will care ...

    We don't know anything about the hole, and we don't have a judgement. Therefore we know nothing.
    It is bull. Unless the landowner, trail workers, or some other relatively responsible entity installed or removed a feature that is so grossly negligent that even other responsible trail users also agree are grossly negligent, there should be no consideration for liability...and I said "gross". Changes in a trail can be very natural and even occur overnight...such as after a storm. To believe that one can ride a trail and not be responsible for looking out for any potential and reasonable hazards that can exist is a ridiculous assumption. Additionally a change or hazard in a trail that causes injury should have to be something that a "responsible" person executed in a trail maintenance function to even be considered. For example I have seen "someone" mischieviously put a rock out in a trail in hopes of causing someone some grief. A landowner or trail entity can't be responsible for these kinds of ignorant jacka$$es. I'll grant you that a "hole" in a trail can have a rather wide definition, but it sounds a far cry from a bridge being intentionally removed by a trail crew without prior warning or putting in a dangerous stunt on a trail with no alternative path around the stunt.

  8. #8
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    Walt: .. but let's take McDonalds. The coffee was 2 deg below boiling. If you spilled it, and you ARE driving a car, you WILL have your whole crotch burned, and it could be a 1st deg burn. Whose fault? ... Nobody drinks coffee that hot, you can't. ... WHY was the coffee so hot???

    What can I say, Walt clearly believes that lawsuits should protect every idiot out there.
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  9. #9
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    The first time I ride a trail, I always ride very slow looking for obstacles or dangerous situations. I feel it is my responsibility to do so. If I discover something that may harm me, I either do not ride it or I take that responsibility. I can't imagine suing someone over a choice that I made to ride the trail.

    Now I understand what TNC is saying too. If someone went out of their way to cause someone injury, that is an issue. But then I think we have to look directy at the person who made that particular change. Not the land owner, not the trail steward, but the person who made the change.

    It is because of things like this that I will never be a trail steward. I may help out, but in no way would I ever set myself up as the person "in charge." There is just too much liabilty and lack of personal responsibilty to put myself in that position.
    "Kurt is up in heaven now."

    RIP Vonnegut

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    So Canadians are also as litigous as their US counterparts?

    Seriously, tho, this kind of injury happens all the time down here in South Africa as well. Met someone recently with aserious neck injury after crashing on a very well used and now very eroded and obstacle ridden trail. Lower down the same trail I crashed a month ago on a night race and have still not recovered from the rib/sternum injury I suffered. I am however not considering suing the forestry service or the trail builder.In another incident, osmeone crashed on a downhill course while riding an XC bike. He's not claiming AFAIK, but the trails was closed for a while afterwards. We all know the risks and are obliged to concentrate and keep a proper look out for obstacles as the trails are constantly changing with the weather and usage. On the other hand, in a more managed environment with regular trail maintenance schedules maybe some liability could attach to the authority/owner, but its hard to imagine this unless they somehow created a situation that was out of the ordinary eg a badly built trail that collapses as a rider is on it causing a crash. There is always going to be a situation where someone may succeed with a claim, but this can and should never be a valid justification for closing trails....

  11. #11
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    What a load of crap.

    When will it end??

    These "lawyers" are ruining it for everyone - these civil suits are resulting in closed trails, increases in bike prices, ginormous fork dropouts, etc etc.

    There are any number of factors that can make you crash - a patch of gravelly stuff, a bit of mud, rocks, logs, stupidity etc etc. Is someone responsible for all of this?

    People need to cop it on the chin - MTB is a rough and tumble sport, you play with feathers, you get your bum tickled.

    As Arnie said - "Don't be a girly man."
    My Cannondale Lefty keeps failing....

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wasatch Walt
    no we don't .... we don't know the nature of the hole .... this is inexact and ancedotal, but there USED to be two waterbars on a certain hill on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail ... waterbars are very tricky in that they are sometimes hard to see from a distance, they do a total suspension compression, are completely unnatural in form and the exit leaves you hanging if you don't know how to precompress the bike, and if the wavelength is totally wrong for your speed .... one day I'm riding along, and there is a guy being extricated by SAR, and it looks like his neck is snapped ... soon thereafter the waterbars were gone ... his fault as a novice rider? Or poor idea by the trail builders?

    There is a mine subsidence hole on upper something or other in Park City. The leadin is off camber, the hole cannot been seen, the hole in on a turn, the trail runs 4" from the lip, the hole is vertical about 8' deep if you carry any extra speed, you will have one of the worst crashes of your life .... somebody dropped a tiny little sign that says CAUTION on the off camber. Whose fault if you don't know the trail, don't see the sign? Yours? Can you have the worse crash of your life? Absolutely.

    We know nothing ... you draw a little pic in your head of some normal little hole, but we know totally nothing about it's severity, it's origin and so on. Probably the lawyer is full of shyte, and the suit will be dismissed, but we don't know the facts and the alarm is sounded in the article, but the facts are not present.

    I call these "the plebians are attacking" articles. There is always a after taste of hysteria and how CRAZY people can be .. but let's take McDonalds. The coffee was 2 deg below boiling. If you spilled it, and you ARE driving a car, you WILL have your whole crotch burned, and it could be a 1st deg burn. Whose fault? ... Nobody drinks coffee that hot, you can't. ... WHY was the coffee so hot???
    Theres this nice great big wide grassy area on a hill overlooking my city. The grass gets mown, except there was a little hole or dip part way down, the mower of course would mow over the top, and without looking closely you could not see it, the grass was just longer. My friend was just ambling down there with his two sons on their bikes doesn't see it then he's over the bars so fast he never even got a chance to get his hands out, slight concussion, broken collarbone, months unable to work. When mentioned the stories start coming out 'oh yeah one time I was walking my dog and saw a jogger with a broken ankle' by that hole and someone we know who twisted their ankle and someone else who endoed and so-on, thats just people we know directly, all of these people would've ended up on ACC (insurance). So when my friend got better he went up their with a mate and a shovel and they filled the hole in, to save other people from more unecessary muntage all from a 6" hollow. So yeah it can happen real easy.

  13. #13
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    Where I come from we kind of like the big holes in the trail. I wonder if Mr. Leone (hereinafter referred to as "Wussy") is considering suing the bike manufacturer as well. They have much more money than a local association and I'm sure he could create some issue of fault with the bike...

    Heres a clip from our pals at NSMB:

    The Kolapore Uplands, 5,000 hectares of the Niagara Escarpment a little south and west of the bottom end of Georgian Bay, is the largest and roughest patch of semi-wilderness left in southern Ontario. Steep and rugged, what isn't cliff face or exposed rock is hardwood forest regrown since being clear-cut a century ago.

    It is a dreamscape for the craziest risk-takers, and since the 1970s, the University of Toronto Outing Club and the Kolapore Uplands Wilderness Ski Trails Committee have cut 60 kilometres of trails through it that are earnestly posted "Challenging Ski Trails ” Not For Novice Skiers."

    They are volunteer organizations; the trails are maintained by volunteers; anybody can use them for free. Costs are covered by donations, which totalled $2,600 this year, and the sale of a trail map without which it is easy to blunder into even greater peril.

    Since the volunteers' interest is solely skiing, in seasons when there is no snow the trails are left to fend for themselves. But in the 1990s the mountain bike appeared, and with it the mountain bikers who discovered in Kolapore the hellishly beautiful terrain that makes their testosterone-charged adrenalin bubble and boil. The best (that is, the worst) of the trails earn the highest mountain-biking accolade: radical.

    Presumably "totally radical'' would be prying open elevator doors at the CN Tower and biking down the empty shaft.
    It's unlikely that the lack of maintenance for cycling is considered a drawback.

    Then along came James Leone, 31, a Torontonian who, last Aug. 1, was on a trail that bikers grade as "easiest" when, according to documents filed in court, "suddenly and without warning his bicycle came to an abrupt stop" and he was thrown forward, "striking the ground with sudden and violent force."

    Plunging into a "hole in the ground, the depth, size and location of which constituted an unusual danger" might sound like something that's all in a day's (or five minutes') adventure for a mountain biker, except for one thing: Leone is a lawyer. As one of the country's foremost legal experts explained to me, the first thing first-year law students learn the first day of civil procedure is, when you sue, "sue everything in sight."

    Leone is suing the outing club, the ski trails committee, the regional trails network, the local municipality and the province (which owns the land where he encountered the alleged hole) ” everything but the sky above and the Earth itself. He wants $1,150,000 in damages for expenses and lost income as a result of a fractured vertebra he says he suffered, while his co-plaintiff ” his wife, Ashley, who wasn't biking "sustained a loss of guidance, care and companionship" she might reasonably have expected if he hadn't run into said hole.

    Leone's stated position is that, whether they like it or not, the volunteer organizations and the province, by permitting the trails to exist on its land, are responsible for creating "a situation of danger from which the plaintiff, despite all reasonable efforts and precautions was unable to extricate himself," and that they "failed to take reasonable care to protect the plaintiff from the unusual danger, of which they knew or ought to have known."

    Some readers might be inclined to email Mr. Leone and tell him how you feel about this sort of litigation and the effect it has on those of us who love to ride our bikes.

    If you are so inclined please write a POLITE, THOUGHTFUL LETTER. Abusive correspondance will do nothing for our cause and could possibly encourage more litigation. If you are too upset by this to be polite then please don't write.


    From: beardwinter.com
    Leone, James V.
    jleone@beardwinter.com
    Perhaps we should cc Winter Q.C., Richard I.R. who is likely a partner and Mr. Winter's boss.

    Some info about Mr. Leone
    Practising since 2001. Graduated from University of Western Ontario in 1996 (Hons. B. A.) and Queen's University (LL.B.) in 1999 Mr. Leone is part of the firm's personal injury and insurance litigation group.

    Mr. Leone has had several trials in both the Provincial and Superior Courts of Justice resulting in reported decisions. Mr. Leone has also appeared before the Ontario Court of Appeal.

    Successful cases of note include a claim arising from a boating accident in the narrows of Georgian Bay near Parry Sound, Ontario (Tuchel v. Gunton). In addition to persuading the court to find liability 100% on the opposing party, Mr. Leone successfully defended a $50,000.00 Counterclaim initiated by the Defendants.

    Mr. Leone also has experience in Ontario's various Tribunals with notable reported decisions. Most recently, Mr. Leone successfully brought an Application before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT). The case (Kramer v. Newcastle) arose out of a motor vehicle accident in which issues concerning the standing of the Plaintiff and, more specifically, his right to sue where in issue. The key question in the Application was whether or not the claimant was involved in the accident while in the course of his employment. As a result of the Application, the Plaintiff's right to sue was denied by the Tribunal ultimately resulting in the dismissal of a $1,000,000.00 lawsuit against Mr. Leone's client.

    During his final year at Queen's University Law School, Mr. Leone produced a documentary entitled "Views on Mediation" which focused on non adversarial litigation techniques. The video is presently part of the curriculum at Queen's Law School.

    Mr. Leone is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario Bar Association.

  14. #14
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    Greetings Folks,

    The Kolapore vs. James V. Leone lawsuit is still ongoing. There have
    been new developments since you posted up about it in 2005/2006.

    I've attached some links that go to updated information (and active
    threads) on mtbr.com addressing this issue. Some gents have obtained
    some of the legal documentation which gives some interesting details.

    Wanted dead or alive
    re Kolapore: does anyone know...
    http://www.nsmb.com/shore_news/beardwinter_04_05.php

    So if you can, give those a read. The most interesting snippet I've
    taken in part from
    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.ph...36127#poststop :

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    First of all I have the notes filled as Leone v. University of Toronto,
    Barrie Court File No. 04-B8059, heard before the Ontario Superior Court
    of Justice on August 3 and September 6, 2006, with judgment on September
    25, 2006.

    There are some important items that are mentioned in the “Findings”
    section of the document, that are useful for the public and land owners
    alike to know about to provide ever increasing wisdom in the world we
    live in.

    - Always put up signage indicating users of trail must do so at own
    risk, and that trails are not regularly maintained, inspected, and may
    contain hazards. Otherwise you could be held responsible for accidents
    if you own the land or had a hand in building the trails.

    - Signage must be at all points of trail entry, not just the head of
    trails. Mr. Leone apparently entered the trails system on a side road
    and therefore saw no signs.

    - Even though you may only allow trails to be used for cross country
    skiing during the winter months, the fact you may be doing trail
    maintenance during other months of the year means that the trails are
    your responsibility all year round (unless you put up signage mentioned
    in first point, or clearly put up signage prohibiting other specific
    activities).

    - If you know that other types of users are using your trails for other
    activities than intended, like mountain biking, ATV’s, camping, or
    horseback riding, then you have a duty of care (ie. responsibility) for
    these people. Unless, of course, you put up signage as mentioned in
    first point.

    - If someone has an accident on your property, always make sure you act
    by doing something to prevent it from happening next time. Otherwise you
    will be accused of negligence if you do nothing.

    - Even though a hole may be created by an ATV on your trails, causing
    someone to trip over it and break their spine, you are responsible for
    this hazard and fixing it (unless you have clear signs indicating that
    ATV’s are not allowed, or again, if you have signage as mentioned in
    first point).

    From the statements of the court mentioned in this document, it appears
    that Mr. Leone has a good case to win so far.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

  15. #15
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    No, we're not usually as litigous as our friends to the south...but we're quickly learning that it is a fast way to make a buck or two...especially if you're a personal injury lawyer.
    As if four times wasn't enough-> Psycho Mike's 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer Page

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    So in other words, based on the above, if a guy goes onto crown land, trips and breaks a leg, he can sue the government for a huge number of tax dollars. That puts most, if not all, Provincial and National parks at risk...I didn't see any "use at your own risk" signs the last few times I've been at parks and crown land.

    Yup, once again, personal responsibility has gone out the window only to be replaced by a lawsuit.
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  17. #17
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    @PsychoMike

    I have read the summary judgement. You can't sue the crown if

    a) it's classed as wilderness, undeveloped, forest etc

    b) it's classed as recreational trails and there are signs saying 'use at your own risk' at all the entrances

    unfortunately at Kolapore there seems to have been confusion since there was enough of a trail system for it to be arguably recreational, but it was not properly marked with disclaimers

    the whole issue could have been avoided IMO with proper signage

    the case may still fail if the judge thinks that Mr Leone willingly assumed the risks associated with MTBing on the trail system, which I hope is the outcome

    however it does not have a general effect on access to Crown land. I expect it WILL make the MNR more cautious about issuing Land Use Permits to trail clubs etc, and insisting on proper signage (which is already a condition of the permits).

    As far as I can tell, it may have been an ATV rut which Mr Leone fell into. This, IMO, is a very serious problem on crown land under the Free Use policy. I know of several trails which have been rendered completely unusable by ATVs. I think the MNR has to do something about this.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  18. #18
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    PHB, the interpretation of a "recreational area" and "wilderness" becomes a real central issue in this lawsuit. Parks are generally, by definition, recreational areas and they usually put up some form of sign signs....but maintenance and ensuring the signage is compliant and readable is an issue in these days of fiscal restraint.

    Crown land, however, is surprisingly diverse. We have crown land all over Alberta that is not listed as a recreational area, but has sufficient trails (hikers, bikers and others use regularly) so that it cannot be truly called wilderness...and no signage. It would lead to the same issue as this one in Ontario is bringing forth...and I think Mr. Leone is taking advantage of it with his lawsuit.

    Also, because of the transient nature of trails, I wonder what would be considered adequate signage? What is considered an access? Do we need to go as far as a "Use at your own risk" tag on every tree or rock? I mean, really, personal responsibility and a warning should cover it unless there is something way outside the "normal" realm.

    Speaking of warnings, I think that one question that Mr. Leone should be asked is if he read the owner's manual that came with his bike. I've got mine here in front of me...one of the first big warnings in it is:

    !Warning!
    The following riding practices increase your risk of injury:
    - Jumping your bicycle
    - Performing bicycle stunts
    - Severe off-road riding
    - Downhill riding
    - Any abnormal bike riding
    and so forth.

    I think, from what has been said about these trails where he was hurt, that they could be covered under the "sever off-road riding" bit and Mr. Leone should have been aware that he could be injured while riding his bike....at least he would have been if he read the owner's manual.

    I think the reality of the situation is this: It just irks me that "ambulance chaser" type lawsuits are making their way up here so fast. I don't want us to get to the point that I, as a volunteer first aider and bike patroller, don't want to help someone for fear of being sued...after all, it isn't a big leap from going after the guys who try to make the trails more ridable/safer to going after the first guy that comes along and tries to help once you've been hurt.
    As if four times wasn't enough-> Psycho Mike's 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer Page

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  19. #19
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    Interesting point about the bike owners manual!

    Perhaps the defence could make use of that? In that Mr. Leone didn't read the bike manual and therefore failed to take adequate responsibility? Hmm.

  20. #20
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    I think RA and Mike are both right that the defence has a really strong argument that MTBing has inherent risks which riders assume willingly. Here on MTBR there is story after story of people who were 'just riding along' when they endoed, injuring themselves. Certainly the bike manual warns of this. It is hard to believe that Mr Leone believed that riding the Kolapore trails was without risk. I believe he was at least a part-time resident of the area and the Kolapore trails are well-known in the area to be challenging.

    I think the defence could come up with a laundry list of reasons why Mr Leone should have been aware of the risks, as well as expert testimony.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  21. #21
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    Part time resident of the area? I always figured ******* lawyers would live in Toronto

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by 24601
    The first time I ride a trail, I always ride very slow looking for obstacles or dangerous situations. I feel it is my responsibility to do so. If I discover something that may harm me, I either do not ride it or I take that responsibility. I can't imagine suing someone over a choice that I made to ride the trail.

    .
    A trail can change every single time you ride it. A storm can come through and drop a tree where you least expect it. You ride MTBs, you take risks. This lawyer is a scumbag.

  23. #23
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    No offence but in the UK this would probably be laughed out of court. Well, most of the time.

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    Ths kind of crap should not be tolerated in the court systems!

    One thing our courts need to change is to shift the burden of cost onto the party that makes frivalous (sp) lawsuits (all costs, court and realistic attorney fees). This would stop the idiots who are sue happy and looking to make a dime.

    Or our judges need to grow a set and throw them out

  25. #25
    mtbr member
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    Apr 2006
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    324

    No Whining

    The person that was suing should learn that if he wants to run with the big dogs, he'd better be ready to get bit. Mountain biking can get you hurt, either accept it, or take up another sport, which will probably still get you hurt. Sport imply's challenge, shoot, my cousin blew out her knee stepping on a toy on her front porch. Get over it, ride on.

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