Corporate Responsibility and Personal Accountability on Trial in Utah

The debate over whether corporate accountability trumps personal responsibility is on the legal docket of Utah’s 3rd District Court.  In the wake of a drunken attack at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort’s annual Oktoberfest last year, which left three participants badly hurt, and another three standing before the bar with third-degree felony assault charges lodged against them, the suit’s plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against the resort for failing to control the sale of alcohol at the annual event.

altercation-quoteAccording to documents filed with the court, the plaintiffs, Brent Anderson, his wife Laura, and their adult son, Thadius Grzeskiewicz, were allegedly attacked after exiting the tram at the top of Hidden Peak following a verbal conflict with the defendants during the ascent.

In assigning blame, the plaintiff’s attorney, James McConkle, noted, “No Snowbird employees or security, either at the peak or on the tram, took any steps to protect our clients from what was clearly a foreseeable danger given the heavy drinking that was going on.”

The attorney went on to say that, the Oktoberfest celebrations have taken on a “spring break” cast in participant’s behavior, and holding a drinking festival in a mountainous canyon presents safety problems for those attending.  The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages for personal injuries, medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

In statements countering the charges, Snowbird Resort President, Bob Bonar, argued that responsibility belongs with the participants in the altercation rather than with the resort.

“Guest and employee safety are a top priority,” according to Bonar, “this is an unprecedented event involving two parties that should have walked away from each other to prevent this altercation.”

To buttress his claim, Bonar added that in the Snowbird’s 44-year history of holding the festival, not once have they been subject to alcohol violations by local authorities.  He also took to task the notion that the festival’s location presents a hazard to public safety.

“Snowbird offers free rides home to any guest requesting the van services of Canyon Transportation,” said Bonar.  To expand riding opportunities, the Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort has collaborated with Uber on a ride program designed to get the resort’s participants home safely.

Whether corporate accountability will be trumped by personal responsibility is now in the hands of Utah’s 3rd District Court.