MCL 408.342 Interpretation

In Grieb v. Alpine Valley Ski Area, Inc, 155 Mich. App. 484, 486; 400 N.W.2d 653 (1986), the Court had occasion to interpret the provision for acceptance of risks by skiers, MCL 408.342(2); MSA 18.483(22)(2), which states: Each person who participates in the sport of skiing accepts the dangers that inhere in that sport insofar as the dangers are obvious and necessary. Those dangers include, but are not limited to, injuries which can result from variations in terrain; surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions; bare spots; rocks, trees, and other forms of natural growth or debris; collisions with ski lift towers and their components, with other skiers, or with properly marked or plainly visible snow-making or snow-grooming equipment. Having reviewed the legislative history of both the act and the amendment, the Court noted that "the Legislature perceived a problem with respect to the inherent dangers of skiing and the need for promoting safety, coupled with the uncertain and potentially enormous ski area operator's liability." Grieb, supra at 488. To solve the problem, the Legislature established rules to set out the respective responsibilities of both ski operators and skiers in the area of safety and decided that all skiers assume the obvious and necessary dangers of skiing. 155 Mich. App. at 489. In Grieb, the plaintiff had been struck from behind by another skier. The Court found that the statute "clearly and unambiguously provides that an injury resulting from a collision with another skier is an obvious and necessary danger assumed by skiers." 155 Mich. App. at 486. Similarly, in Schmitz v. Cannonsburg Skiing Corp, 170 Mich. App. 692, 695; 428 N.W.2d 742 (1988) where a skier hit a tree, this Court found that that danger was enumerated in the statute as one for which the skier accepted the risk of danger "as a matter of law." Significantly, the Court agreed with the plaintiff that certain sections of the SASA, particularly MCL 408.342(1); MSA 18.483(22)(1), which requires a skier to "maintain reasonable control of his or her speed and course at all times," and MCL 408.344; MSA 18.483(24), which states that a skier or operator who violates the act is liable for the portion of loss or damage resulting from that violation, "suggest a comparative negligence principle such as that articulated in Placek v. Sterling Heights, 405 Mich. 638; 275 N.W.2d 511 (1979)." Schmitz, supra at 694. However, this Court concluded it is clear from the plain and unambiguous wording of 22(2) that the Legislature intended to place the burden of certain risks or danger on skiers, rather than ski resort operators . . . and that it is logical to construe this section of the statute as an assumption of the risk clause that renders the reasonableness of the skiers' or the ski operator's behavior irrelevant. Id. at 696.