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Miller v. Crested Butte, LLC.

2024 CO 30. No. 23SA186. Absolution of Statutory Duty by Private Agreement.

May 20, 2024

In this case, the Supreme Court considered whether a defendant may absolve itself of statutory duties imposed by the Ski Safety Act of 1979, CRS §§ 33-44-101 to -114, , the Passenger Tramway Safety Act, CRS §§ 12-150-101 to -120, and regulations promulgated thereunder by way of private agreements purporting to release negligence claims against it. The Court further considered whether the district court properly applied the factors set forth in Jones v. Dressel, 623 P.2d 370, 376 (Colo. 1981), to uphold the private release agreements signed by the plaintiff in this case and to dismiss two negligence-based claims brought by the plaintiff.

The Court concluded that Crested Butte, LLC may not absolve itself, by way of private release agreements, of liability for violations of the statutory and regulatory duties on which Miller’s negligence per se claim is based.

Accordingly, the Court concluded that the district court erred in dismissing that claim. The Court next concluded that the district court properly applied the Jones factors to determine that the release agreements that Miller signed are enforceable and thus barred Miller’s purported claim for “negligence-highest duty of care.”

Accordingly, the Court made its rule to show cause absolute in part and discharged it in part, and remanded this case to the district court with instructions to reinstate Miller’s negligence per se claim and for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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