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Snowboarder who broke spine falling from Whistler chairlift sues resort

Lawsuit claims 14-year-old slipped out of chair due to staff negligence
Children make their way up a closed Whistler Mountain to toboggan in Whistler, B.C. Sunday, March 15, 2020. A Vancouver man is suing the resort for the part he claims it played in him falling from a chairlift and fracturing his spine in 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Seven years after 14-year-old Bryan Phu Man Tran slipped out of a Whistler Blackcomb chairlift and fractured his spine, he is suing the resort for failures he says caused his fall.

In December of 2016, video of Tran’s accident circulated online and showed the young snowboarder dangling from the Emerald Express Chair before dropping about eight metres into a waiting net and slamming into the snow-covered ground. At the time, Whistler Blackcomb said the chair’s restraining bar hadn’t been lowered.

Tran’s lawsuit, filed in the B.C. Supreme Court last week, doesn’t mention the restraining bar, but says his fall was the direct result of employer and staff negligence.

It goes on to detail a long list of all the ways the resort, the land owner and two property management companies allegedly failed to ensure Tran’s safety. This includes not adequately supervising the loading and unloading of the chairlift, not training employees on how to operate it properly, not having a good system of inspection and maintenance in place and not rescuing Tran quickly enough, among other things.

The lawsuit says Tran was acting with safety and prudence and the fall was not his fault.

When he hit the ground that Saturday morning in 2016, the lawsuit says Tran fractured his spine, suffered a concussion and incurred injuries to almost every other part of his body. As a result, he has an altered gait, cognitive deficits, chronic pain and fatigue, sleep disruption and post-traumatic arthritis in his spine. The lawsuit says he continues to undergo medical treatment.

None of the claim’s defendants have filed responses to the lawsuit as of publication. At the time of Tran’s fall, Whistler Blackcomb said it was unknown what had caused him to slip out of the chairlift.

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