PARK CITY, Utah (ABC4) — Vail Resorts, owner of Park City Mountain Resort, has recently been ordered by a Utah court to pay a $2.4 million settlement following a bowling incident on April 4, 2019, at an end-of-the-season company party.
The jury at Summit County’s Third District Court awarded Amy Herzog more than $2.4 million in damages last Wednesday, Nov. 16. Those damages came from a suit over injuries Herzog sustained while working as a bartender/manager at Jupiter Bowl during a company-sponsored party thrown by Park City Mountain on April 4, 2019.
During the party, attendees from the company’s Mountain Activities Team supposedly began to bowl in an “increasingly unorthodox and careless manner,” according to the press release from Herzog’s attorneys. They reportedly started kicking balls down the lanes, bowling between their legs, bowling two balls at a time and bowling while covering their eyes.
Herzog was responsible for retrieving bowling balls stuck in the gutters and clearing the lanes that night. She was in the process of picking up a gutter ball at an empty lane when a Vail Resort employee, Joe Ellis, performed a “360-degree spin bowling move” at the adjacent lane which sent the ball hurtling off course and crashing into her left hand.
The impact crushed her hand against the gutter ball, her attorneys said. She required immediate surgery, but her hand was so swollen she was forced to push back her surgery until almost two weeks later on April 16. Dr. Karen Heiden of Heiden Orthopaedics testified at the trial that Herzog’s surgery was one of the most difficult surgeries she had ever performed.
Herzog had to have pins, screws, wires, and plates implanted in order to hold her hand together. Over the next year, Herzog will go back for two more surgeries to remove the hardware.
Her left hand is permanently disfigured and scarred. The press release stated that she can longer make a fist with her left hand and has a hard time gripping items.
Herzog’s attorneys said Vail Resorts is liable in this personal injury case because Ellis was an active Vail employee when he performed the spin move and the resort company should have been supervising the attendees since they sponsored the party.
Vail Resorts initially denied liability, claiming that Ellis was not employed at the time of the party because the Park City resort was closed and that the event was not sponsored by the company.
Herzog’s lawyers were able to dispute those claims by demonstrating that Ellis went to work two days after the incident, and the resort was open until April 7. A Vail Resort employee also testified that she filled out Sponsored Events forms for the bowling party, thereby verifying that the party was, in fact, paid for by the company.
Herzog’s lawyers asked for a $1 million settlement during closing arguments, but the jury ordered the defendants to pay over double that amount, totaling $2,402,000.
Ultimately, the jury found that the bowling party was a company-sponsored event and Vail failed to supervise Ellis, an active employee, when he performed his 360-degree spin move.