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Two local lawsuits put focus on riding conditions, responsibility – UPDATED

Posted by on January 5th, 2015 at 12:56 pm


Two lawsuits filed in the past two weeks put a focus on the question of who’s responsible for safe riding.

According to The Oregonian, a woman was badly injured last May during a mountain bike race in Hood River when she attempted to ride over a log that had fallen on the trail. She now seeks $273,000 from race organizer Hurricane Racing (Portland based bike shop Fat Tire Farm, the event’s main sponsor, is also named in the lawsuit).

Here’s more from The Oregonian:

Lisa Belair had signed up for the Dog River Super D mountain biking race on May 3 in Hood River, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court…

Days before the race, a storm had blown down trees along the course, but the event’s organizers assured riders on the race’s website that trail crews had cleared the trail, the suit claims.

Trail crews, however, had failed to remove one tree because it was too large — and they instead covered it partially with dirt, according to the suit. That created a large jump that wasn’t readily identifiable as Belair rode down the hill and onto it, said her Bend attorney, Tim Williams.

Read more in The Oregonian.


In the other case, a woman fell and sustained serious injuries after riding over a pothole in inner southeast Portland. She’s suing the City of Portland for $306,000.

Here’s more from The Oregonian:

A 51-year-old woman who was bicycling through Southeast Portland on a summer night has filed a $306,000 lawsuit against the city, claiming a depression in the road made her crash.

According to her lawsuit filed this week in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Teri Briggs was pedaling along Southeast 20th Avenue near Southeast Pine Street at about 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2013, when one of her tires sunk into a depression in the road, next to a manhole cover. The depression caused her to “lose control of her bicycle, drive off the road, and into a chain link fence and metal post,” according to the lawsuit.

Briggs suffered multiple fractures to her nose, a traumatic brain injury and cuts or bruises to her face, left arm, right hand, torso and legs, the lawsuit states.

Briggs’ suit faults the city and an unidentified company that city officials hired to pave the area. The suit claims that the “faulty paving design, asphalt mix, installation and/or maintenance of the asphalt pavement” around the manhole created a “dangerous condition for cyclists within the traffic lane.”

That case puts an interesting twist on the “safety vs. maintenance” debates we’ve been hearing around the city’s Street Fund initiative.

UPDATE, 1/9/14 at 12:25 pm: I have confirmed that Lisa Belair has dismissed her lawsuit against Fat Tire Farm and Skibowl. Stay tuned.

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91 thoughts on “Two local lawsuits put focus on riding conditions, responsibility – UPDATED”

  1. Avatar GirlontwoWheels says:

    If the second lawsuit wins, there are a number of streets that the city will have to invest in imediately, including the last two blocks on NE Going before the greenway jumps over to NE Alberta at 41st. How an unimproved street is part of a greenway, I fail to understand.

    1. Avatar paikiala says:

      Center strip is not ‘unimproved’. gravel, dirt and potholes is unimproved.

      1. Avatar GirlontwoWheels says:

        The two blocks between 39th and 41st on NE Going qualify as unimproved by your definition. There is hardly a smooth spot between those two blocks. In the winter I commute both ways in the dark and on the way home I end up riding on the wrong side of the road to avoid the worst of the broken pavement.

        1. Avatar davemess says:

          he’s saying that “unimproved” means there is NO pavement.

    2. Avatar gutterbunnybikes says:

      The second one is going to get settled quietly out of court with gag orders to prevent copycat litigation.

  2. Avatar 9watts says:

    “That case puts an interesting twist on the ‘safety vs. maintenance’ debates we’ve been hearing around the city’s Street Fund initiative.”

    Indeed. The damage to the asphalt is due to…?
    People riding bikes? – I have my doubts.
    Weather, freezing temperatures, moisture, time ? – some
    Poorly applied materials/shoddy work? – ?
    Vehicle use? – probably to a very significant degree.

    As some of us have been saying here. The responsibility to fix the condition of the asphalt (the pertinent piece of the Street Fee conversation here) should be apportioned accordingly. I’m fine with us all contributing to fix the deterioration due to weather and time, but AFAIK that isn’t the chief problem here.

    1. Avatar paikiala says:

      FWIW, when roads are resurfaced it is the responsibility of the utility to raise up maintenance access points to the new surface level. This is often done in two stages. The ring and cover are raised up, then the asphalt around it are replaced. It may be that the crash happened during a lag time between the two phases.

      1. Avatar wsbob says:

        FWIW, when roads are resurfaced it is the responsibility of the utility to raise up maintenance access points to the new surface level. This is often done in two stages. The ring and cover are raised up, then the asphalt around it are replaced. It may be that the crash happened during a lag time between the two phases.
        Recommended 1

        Was this a pothole? Some people commenting to this story, seem to be wondering whether that’s what it is. Potholes can occur on pavement all over the city due to a variety of reasons, such as temperature and moisture extremes, soil changes, etc. Realistically, road maintenance crews can’t be expected to immediately fill in a pothole, whenever and wherever they occur. Road users do have a responsibility to be on the watch for and be prepared to avoid such road hazards as potholes

        Or, was the asphalt depression that the woman’s bike tire dropped in to, simply a lousy fill job done by a work crew around the street utility cover? If a crew worked on the asphalt around the cover, when the crew quit for the day, did the workers leave the the pavement with a smooth transition from street to cover, no crevices? If for some reason, leaving a crevice around the cover was unavoidable, something should have been left in place to warn road users away from the utility street cover.

      2. Avatar davemess says:

        I think 9watts was referring more the the financial responsibility.

  3. Avatar bjorn says:

    I heard that the mountain bike crash actually occured during a pre-ride of the course before the race. The log was well marked and there was a way to easily go around it. It was removed before the race but they had not removed it yet during the pre-ride. It seems like the woman was riding outside her ability level during a time that was set aside for people to take a close look at the course so they would be able to identify any potential obstacles they might face during the race.

    1. Avatar Blinkie Seizure says:

      jump was not apparent due to dirt obfuscation…

      1. Avatar Brian says:

        I disagree. Dirt piled up to a log is what makes it obviously a jump. That’s exactly what a jump is. I pre-rode the course and it was very apparent, especially considering that it was on a wide open, straight section of trail. I rode up to it, got off my bike and checked it out (which is the point of scouting a race course), and went back to ride it. I am not aware of any other person crashing on it.

        1. Avatar Blinkie Seizure says:

          Might it be the case that she was familiar with the trail and was not expecting it?

          1. Avatar Zimmerman says:

            Were her eyes closed for the duration of that long, straight section?

          2. Avatar davemess says:

            A few witnesses claim that she actually road up to the jump, stopped, and went back up trail to take a run at the jump.

            1. Avatar Blinkie Seizure says:

              that makes me feel worse. she decided that she needed to get a handle on a jump that was not originally there and sounds like not many people went off of, and was eventually removed. sounds like she was used as a human guinea pig and deserves to sue.

              1. Avatar Zimmerman says:

                Everyone else seemed to navigate it just fine. That should make you feel better about the course but sorry about a person’s lack of judgement in their skill and ability.

              2. Avatar Brian says:

                “sounds like not many people went off of”
                I’m not sure where that is coming from. Everyone I talked with rode it during the pre-ride of the course. It amounted to a very minimal obstacle.

              3. Avatar Blinkie Seizure says:

                got it, thanks.

          3. Avatar Brian says:

            Impossible. It was in a wide open, straight section of trail. It would have been impossible to miss unless her eyes were closed.

            1. Avatar Blinkie Seizure says:

              thanks all… trying to figure this out with lack of detail, thanks for the firsthand info…

              1. Avatar Brian says:

                My pleasure.

              2. Avatar Susan says:

                I heard from people at the race it was actually her second practice run down the trail. If that is the case she was well aware of the risk and was responsible for her actions when she decided to jump it. She races a bike with a very low handlebar (negative rise stem, flat bars), a very unsafe setup for jumpin any type of jump. Her Strava records also indicate she was very active on her bike not long after her crash, and she has plans to return to racing.

                Based upon the fact that she has a no-fee lawyer, I imagine she probably is just seeking am out of court settlement and doesn’t want it to actually go to trial. But regardless if it does or not, it will still cost the race organizer and the sponsors a lot of money and they will probably not be supportive of racing in the future. If it does go to trial this will be very interesting, given how much she has alienated herself from the mountain bike community.

    2. Avatar Spiffy says:

      I would have to agree that it happened pre-ride since she isn’t listed in the race results as DNF like one of the other people was…

  4. Avatar RH says:

    Re: Hood River incident : Did others riders experience the same fate as the plaintiff?
    Re: The street incident at 11:30pm : Did the cyclist have a front light on to be able to view the street?

    If the plaintiffs win, you can kiss goodbye to many cycling events on the premise that the streets aren’t paved in gold and that the wilderness has too many dangerous trees/obstacles….and we all can’t be wrapped in bubblewrap.

    The USA unfortunately has the culture of suing anyone for anything.

    1. Avatar Adam H. says:

      Is is negligent for a race organizer to claim that all obstacles were removed from the trail, when they have failed to remove a large obstacle.

      1. Avatar Zimmerman says:

        My understanding from other participants was that the injury happened the day before the race on a pre-ride inspection. The tree was removed before the actual race.

        I have to ask though, when was the last time you went MOUNTAIN BIKING and didn’t encounter an obstacle on a trail? Leif Erickson doesn’t count…

        Also, this woman is currently entered in endurance races and talking about her race plans. Her Strava account shows her mountain biking and training 6 weeks after her injury as well.

        I’m looking forward to seeing this one thrown out of court and for Lisa to be wholly shunned by the racing community in the area.

        1. Avatar Blinkie Seizure says:

          Were there course marshals and race organizers present during the pre-ride?

      2. Avatar Brian says:

        There were many obstacles left on the trail (rocks, branches, roots, erosion bars, etc). It’s a mountain bike trail. Obstacles are supposed to exist. The log in question was less technical than the rocky section and switchbacks later in the race course.

        1. Avatar davemess says:

          Yes, once the log is made into a jump it is part of the course. So yes, the course could have been clear otherwise.

          And this was a Super D event!

      3. Avatar mran1984 says:

        You have no idea what you are writing about. Have you ever ridden a mountain bike? I am quite serious. There is no such “thing” as mountain biking without obstacles. Our health care system is the obstacle.

      4. Avatar Spiffy says:

        “a race organizer to claim that all obstacles were removed from the trail”

        ” the event’s organizers assured riders on the race’s website that trail crews had cleared the trail”

        those two sentences can be vastly different in their meanings…

        I don’t see anywhere that the organizers claimed that they removed any obstacles… it just says that they said the trail was “cleared”… cleared of obstacles? I would hope not since it’s a mountain bike trail… cleared for riding? yes, it’s safe enough that they considered it clear to ride…

    2. Avatar dan says:

      I’m not sure how I feel about the cyclist who crashed in the pot hole. As we know, the vast majority of cyclists use “be seen” lights that don’t light up the road in the same way as car headlights. I’d have to see the obstacle to see how I feel. The city posts warning signs for streetcar tracks; was this pothole a bigger obstacle / more dangerous than streetcar tracks?

  5. Avatar Scott H says:

    The judge should throw the first case out. Participate in races at your own risk.

    1. Avatar KristenT says:

      From what I’m reading here and my own experience racing in the forest, this sounds to me like what we’d call force majeur… aka, tough beans.

      Other readers have reported that she encountered the tree during the pre-ride (as did everyone else), scouted it out, went back up the trail and then rode the jump. That tells me that she knew the tree was there, she knew the condition of the jump, and she took it anyway.

      Also, I’m betting she signed a waiver of some kind that absolves organizers, landowners, sponsors, and the sanctioning body of this sort of lawsuit. $2USD says it gets thrown out, especially with how quickly she got back into racing after her injury.

  6. Avatar Justin says:

    Concur with RH.
    Hope to hear what happens with both these suits.
    Living life exposes everyone to risks, and personally, I would take
    responsibility for navigating the environment in both those situations.

  7. Avatar Blinkie Seizure says:

    wow you guys are being harsh. most professional athletes take the organizing bodies to the utmost task for failing to provide adequate competition standards as it relates to their personal safety.

    1. Avatar davemess says:


    2. Avatar Zimmerman says:

      You obviously don’t know what a Super D race is. It’s a form of downhill mountain bike racing. You know, mountain biking: on mountains, on dirt trails, in the woods, near rocks, trees, logs, sticks, etc.

      1. Avatar Blinkie Seizure says:

        i know what Super D is… or at least I think i do… downhill run with a couple uphill zags?

    3. Avatar JP says:

      I’m not sure we have enough information to say that the race promoter failed to make the course safe. To me, it sounds like he probably should have said, “the trees were all removed, except one, which was made into a jump,” but as others have pointed out, it was not just a mountain bike course, but a downhill course. In those kinds of races, “safe” is a pretty subjective thing. There is no amount of work that would make that course “safe” for a roadie like me, while I’m sure there are folks who could have ridden the course with the trees all still down.

    4. Avatar lil'stink says:

      You are making the assumption that the race organizers are at fault or negligent. I don’t understand how they were at fault for the plaintiff’s inability to handle a jump that was, by all accounts I have heard, easy to identify.

      This lawsuit could have large, negative repercussions for our local racing scene. The fact that the general consensus among experienced mountain bikers is that this is a totally frivolous lawsuit doesn’t help her case in public forums like this.

  8. Avatar invisiblebikes says:

    Its no ones responsibility but your own to ride safely and hitting a pothole “because you didn’t see it” is no excuse!

  9. Avatar Brian says:

    If she scouted it, she also could have also decided to walk it. Many sections in mountain bike races (including XC races) need to be walked by m any racers (myself included, though I don’t like to admit it). It’s about taking personal responsibility for your own skill level.

    1. Avatar davemess says:

      That’s what is so frustrating about this incident. Mountain biking is known for this kind of mentality (I’m just out there in the woods with my bike). It just feels wrong, like the sport has been dirtied a bit.

  10. Avatar Ron G. says:

    We have a terribly broken health care system when injured people are forced to take such drastic measures to cover health care costs, and are then held up as examples of greed and irresponsibility. I really don’t care what circumstances surround these incidents–people were injured, and now their judgement and integrity are being subject to public scrutiny and ridicule. In compassionate societies (like everywhere but here) a state-sponsored hospital would care for them, and nobody would get sued. Instead, these victims are forced to play a game created by lawyers and insurance companies to see who gets paid (I mean besides the lawyers and insurance companies–that’s a given).

    1. Avatar RH says:

      Very true. I have no issues with folks trying to recover heath care/lost wages/future care if defendant is found guilty. Some of the crazy pain and suffering $ amounts is what gets to me. Any idea if folks in other countries get something for pain and suffering and who pays for that? Just curious.

      1. Avatar Ron G. says:

        The damages in a lawsuit are often exaggerated in order for the plaintiff to receive full compensation in the end, after the initial claim is whittled down in court, and to account for legal fees. Exorbitant claims are a negotiating tactic created by lawyers more often than plaintiffs, and they help fuel the perception that people who sue are unscrupulous. It’s just one more piece of ignominy heaped on people who are just trying to avoid having crippling debt heaped upon crippling injury.

        1. Avatar Zimmerman says:

          Except she wasn’t crippled, was riding 6 weeks after the injury, is continuing to race and no one else had her problem with the course.

          It is possible that this is one of those actual unscrupulous cases you mentioned.

          Here’s the bottom line: we don’t live in the health care Utopia you describe and the actions of this plaintiff, if successful, are going to have unfortunate repercussions for people that enjoy racing bicycles in Oregon. I know of at least one event in Hood River that’s been called off until the outcome of this lawsuit is known. It’s just incredible that someone would sue a downhill race organizer for an obstacle on a mountain bike trail…

          1. Avatar Ron G. says:

            See what I mean? Here we are, speculating on the nature of her injuries on a public forum. Usually we consider such information to be confidential, between a doctor and patient, but when someone is forced to take legal action to recoup medical expenses, suddenly her personal condition is open to public consideration. Not only that, she’s belittled because “no one else had her problem with the course”. Does that make her less deserving of medical treatment?

            I agree that it’s unfortunate that promoters will be damaged by this incident, and I’ll bet the plaintiff agrees. I’ll even go further and assume that her own insurance denied her claim for some reason before she felt compelled to get a lawyer.

            I just wish that each time something like this happened the public would focus on the failure of the system rather than the ethics of the injured. Then maybe we’d generate some momentum for real health care reform. Universal, single-payer health care is hardly a Utopian fantasy–it exists everywhere from Cuba to Canada.

            1. Avatar Mike says:

              No one is denying her medical treatment. No one here suggested she doesn’t deserve medical treatment. She is already back to riding and racing, which she is making public by posting for all the world to see!

              Why should the race promoter give her $273,000? Because she could not control her bike? That is not a good enough reason.

              What is to stop everyone else who gets “injured” from suing for hundreds of thousands of dollars?

              I hope Lisa loses the suit and is then counter-sued for legal costs.

            2. Avatar davemess says:

              That’s the question though. Was she “forced” to sue?

            3. Avatar Pete says:

              “Forced” to sue? It’s not like she didn’t know mountain bike racing in a Super D is risky, and that potential injury would need to be covered by good insurance or otherwise be expensive. This week I’m working at my employer’s HQ in Vancouver, BC, and we’ve had several conversations about the healthcare here. Canada is not the medical utopia you describe, the hefty taxes here are a significant burden on smaller businesses, and I wonder what you really know firsthand about healthcare in Cuba.

              Also I take considerable offense to your claim that I don’t live in a compassionate society. There are many, many countries in which civilians are exploited and even killed by their own governments for less than egregious transgressions. The US, on the other hand, has spent more money and endangered more soldiers’ lives in humanitarian efforts than most (or maybe all) others for as long as I have been alive. Imperfect, yes, but far from inhuman.

    2. Avatar davemess says:

      Does coverage often get denied for these types of injuries? I know we all have different types of insurance, but I can’t say I’ve heard about it happening before.

      (I’m willing to bet that most people commenting on this site have had bike-related injuries covered by their insurance).

    3. Avatar jeff says:

      I know where Lisa works and she has pretty good health insurance overall.

  11. Avatar jered says:

    Both of these make my blood boil. On a MT. Bike you fall, you slam, you hit stuff you didn’t know existed. This case sound like total BS. If it really happened on a pre-ride it should be 100% the riders fault, that is the time to work out your line and SCOUT the line.

    Hitting a pothole and falling is a bummer. I’ve nearly done it many times, nobody’s fault but my own. I’d be interested in knowing what her lighting situation was at 11:30 at night.

    I’m not blaming the victim as there are no victims here – just folks who had accidents – bummer.

    1. Avatar Spiffy says:

      there were no accidents here, just collisions…

  12. Avatar dongringo says:

    I hit a rock in a bike lane a couple months ago which threw my front wheel into the curb. Torn rotator cuff is still healing, which due to my job, may take quite awhile. I need a vacation in order for it to heal. I know…I’ll sue to city for not street sweeping all the rocks out of the bike lane. That’s it! I will get my vacation and much, much more!!!

  13. John Liu John Liu says:

    The downhill racer’s case is ridiculous. A mountain bike course is supposed to have obstacles, jumps, and hazards. During a pre ride, racers are supposed to look for these features and work out how to handle them, by getting off the bike and examining them if need be. She should be blacklisted from every race in the future.

    The interesting thing is that the racer signed a release form, but a recent Oregon Supreme Court decision makes the strength of those releases somewhat uncertain. If enough cases like this are brought and won, I expect there will be fewer races and/or entry fees will go up a lot.

    The pothole case is unclear. If you ride at night, it is your own responsibility to have a good light that illuminates the road, and to carefully watch for road hazards. But if a road hazard is so well concealed that a careful rider with a good light couldn’t have seen it, AND the city had notice of the hazard and failed to correct it, then there is a case. I can’t tell exactly what the situation was.

  14. Avatar Champs says:

    And so it goes in the City of Portland. Legitimate safety concerns are entered in the circular file, but there is always time to remove a diverter or respond to a lawsuit. Squeaky wheels get the grease.

    1. Avatar paikiala says:

      When’s the last time you squeaked at council?

  15. Avatar K'Tesh says:

    I can’t count the number of fixes I’ve got the city of Portland, as well as others around the metro area. When you see something dangerous, call the 24 hour hotline, explain the problem, photograph it, and keep on them until it’s fixed. Emails do wonders too.

    Now if they’d only fix the ADA non compliant storm drain grates in the park blocks. I’m just waiting for a tourist attending the farmers market to fall when his/her cane disappears down one of those drains unexpectedly. They’ve been warned since 2011.

    1. Avatar paikiala says:

      General operational safety concerns in the public right of way: 823-SAFE.

      Pothole reporting 823-1700

    2. Avatar Spiffy says:

      See Something? DO SOMETHING!!! [(c)K’Tesh]

  16. Avatar JL says:

    from her husbands facebook page a couple of years ago
    June 14 2012 – “Time to start getting back up to date! Biggest recent news is Lisa took a really hard tumble during a training ride last Sunday. 3 broken ribs! Two are displaced. Its bad. Really bad. She is really tough though. She rode another two hours before stopping! ANIMAL! She is already refocusing her training to recovery and hit HC100 and MTB Endurance Nats later this summer. Inspiring for sure.”

  17. Avatar bjcefola says:

    Regarding the mountain biking case, put aside the lawsuit and consider a more general question. Who should pay for medical care when someone voluntarily engages in a high-risk activity and subsequently gets injured?

    I’d rule out the individual off the bat. Most people just don’t have the resources. I think that leaves two choices: spreading that cost among those who participate in the high-risk activity, or spreading it beyond that to everyone whether they engage in the activity or not.

    I could see good and bad either way.

    1. Avatar Zimmerman says:

      It should lie squarely on the participant of the activity to have adequate insurance in case of an injury.

      “ruling out the individual” is completely ridiculous. The reason we have such insane lawsuits in this country is because of attitudes like this. No one wants to take personal responsibility for their own actions.

      1. Avatar TJ says:

        I’m hesitant to start prescribing what’s high risk and what’s not. Insurance company do this, but in the case of cycling there are many types and dirt often has less risk than riding up Williams at 5pm. Narrowing the spread to among those who participate is complex.

        It’s not exactly a matter of personal responsibility in the sense of 100% ownership. In the case of the course not being cleared the legal wranglings could eventually decide partial fault to both (multiple) parties. Unfortunately, its a negotiation (stakes are high) and filing a lawsuit full-throttle is sometimes what it takes to settle at an eventual 60/40. For this very reason it is absurd to persecute the individuals working within the establishment and not faulting the companies and lawmakers that established the establishment.

        1. Avatar Zimmerman says:

          The point here is that just because you CAN bring a lawsuit does not make doing so right. This woman made a bad decision on her own. No one forced her to race downhill or attempt to ride a trail feature beyond her limited ability.

          Yes, the “establishment” is awful but what’s more awful is not taking responsibility for your own action and living with the consequences. This selfish suit is already negatively affecting ALL kinds of bicycle racing in Oregon.

          1. Avatar TJ says:

            Or it could be noble. Maybe she’s 80% at fault, while 20% falls on the race organizers (+/- either way). Bottom-line, there needs to be accountability for all parties and blanket no-fault waivers should be tested in the courts –be it charity rides, any race series, recreational trails (Sandy Ridge), etc.

            I doubt all the repercussions will be negative. Yes, race promoters and insurance companies may need to step-up in some regards, but racing won’t end. Perhaps, promoters not willing or unable to meet any new standards should not be in business.

            Too, ski resorts won’t be shuttering.

            1. Avatar Mike says:

              They might not be shuttering, but the cost (for everyone) could go up quite significantly.
              It could mean the end of Mom and Pop resorts, only those backed by huge companys (ie Vail, Breckenridge, Tahoe, Park City, etc) will be able to survive. But hey, we love huge corporations, right?

              What happens when a lift ticket is now $115?
              Or a mtb race entry fee is $80?

              If these lawsuits are successful, imagine what that could mean for insurance premiums and future litigation. “I fell and got an ouchie; I had to stop riding my bike for 6 weeks. Give me $275,000!”

              Lisa should be banned from participating in future cycling events, lest she ruins them for the hundreds of other people who participate.

              1. Avatar TJ says:

                I am not suggesting anyone is due compensation, but rather everyone is due an opportunity in court. If the lawsuits aren’t successful then everyone knows where they stand. If the lawsuits are successful then everyone knows where they stand. Then again success is a matter of perspective here.

                I’m only making the point that is not fair to be nasty to someone for seeking a day in court. It’s also not fair to broadly waiver someone’s right to seek a sorting of responsibility and compensation.

                I’m sickened by the suggested bullying/harassment of those who filed suit. It’s gotten ugly.

              2. Avatar Bryan says:

                Some of us don’t require a lawyer and judge to determine who is responsible for our actions and the risks we are willing to take.

      2. Avatar Spiffy says:

        if that were the case then you wouldn’t get any money to pay for your injuries when you got hit by a car because of the high-risk activity of cycling that you were performing…

        and yes, you know the public majority would vote that bikes are dangerous…

      3. Avatar bjcefola says:

        “It should lie squarely on the participant of the activity to have adequate insurance in case of an injury.”

        Passing the cost to a regular health insurance policy is not the same as paying for it oneself. Everyone in the health insurance plan pays for whatever claims are paid out by it. That’s essentially the third option I posed, passing the cost to people who don’t engage in the risky activity.

        What the lawsuit is doing is putting that cost back on the activity organizers, and through them on the participants. Whether that’s good or bad is a question I think a lot of people are going to be grappling with.

    2. Avatar Pete says:

      Completely disagree, assuming we’re talking about an optional activity like a bike race where the waiver you’re supposed to read before signing clearly communicates that there’s a significant risk of injury. You are not just risking your own physical (and financial) health, but burdening (and even risking the safety of) emergency responders and health care workers who could otherwise attend to others in need.

  18. Avatar Zimmerman says:

    Wait, let’s hold the BLM accountable at least partially for allowing a trail to exist in the woods. Can we sue the windstorm that caused the tree to fall as well? Why not parse the accountability down to the infinite?

    1. Avatar TJ says:

      The answers is yes. Yes you can sue. Though you can’t sue the wind storm and likely can’t sue the BLM for the mere existence of a trail in the woods.

      We have a legal system that affords balance to all. Because someone sues or starts with a larger than a ballpark figure, doesn’t mean eventual justice and appropriate wholeness won’t be met.

      I take issues with waivers supposedly disallowing an event promoter, resort, or the city to be sued. The courts will sort it out. New laws or requirements for all parties will come out of it.

      1. Avatar Zimmerman says:

        The eventual “lawful” end of your constantly shared responsibility scenario is no acceptable risk, no trails, no racing, no personal responsibility.

        That’s why this is maddening to no end.

      2. Avatar davemess says:

        “New laws or requirements for all parties will come out of it.”

        And LOTS of lawyer fees (and likely public money from judges).

      3. Avatar Pete says:

        The waivers don’t disallow participants to sue, obviously, nor do they protect negligent people from repercussions for their negligence. What they do is clearly communicate the risks so they are not accused of hiding from participants the fact that racing a mountain bike downhill in the woods as fast as you can presents the possibility of injury. Without lawyers, we’d have to rely upon common sense for that.

  19. Avatar Jonathan Gordon says:

    What I’ve learned from participating on this site is there is not a single road hazard that a vocal group of commenters deem worthy of fixing. I swear, if there was a story of a bridge collapsing under someone on a bike those folks would be loudly wondering why they didn’t just bunny hop it.

    It’s hard to comment on the hazard the 2nd rider encountered with the information provided. However, I’d encourage all of you to email Eileen Dent at PBOT’s Traffic Safety and Livability ( whenever you encounter a road hazard or issue. I’ve done it dozens of times and I’ve found her/PBOT very responsive.

  20. Avatar esther2 says:

    Wow, a pothole. I did not know those were out there. I will have to start paying attention when I ride in the city and look out for them. Who’d have ever thunk! I thought our city streets were perfectly smooth.

  21. Avatar lil'stink says:

    Was the bike racer’s Strava on at that the time of the crash?

    Lawyer – “Your honor, the defendants are clearly liable for the inability of my client to adequately maneuver what was a common feature for the race she chose of her own free will to participate in”

    Judge – “The transcripts indicate the Strava account for the plaintiff was open and functioning at the time of the crash. Is this correct?”

    Lawyer – “Yes it is, your honor. My client was attempting to get a personal best on the descent but I don’t see how…”

    Judge (interrupting) – “Case dismissed”

    Seriously, though. Why did it take so long to put this story on bikeportland? It seems like it could have a significant impact on the local racing scene. I’m surprised it wasn’t posted sooner.

  22. Avatar KristenT says:

    Sorry, but as someone who regularly engages in a high-risk sport, any injuries I receive because of my actions while racing are my problem, not someone else’s.

    Most event insurance is secondary medical, so you need to exhaust your own personal medical insurance before the event insurance.

    But still, if you’re out racing again 6 weeks after a crash, you clearly weren’t injured enough to warrant suing.

  23. Avatar JT says:

    Personal responsibility!!! Whether a log, jump, rock, waterbar or whatever the obstacle only YOU are in control of your bike.

    Its cost a MINIMUM of $5K to defend a lawsuit and most lawyers charge $300 an hour even for the suit to be thrown out. It will cost all riders more in entrance fees if promoters even want to take the risk of a lawsuit.

    A number of riders witnessed her scout the trail and she was well aware of the downed tree/jump. The accident happened her second time down from all reports.
    The pre ride is designed to make yourself familiar with the trail. If an obstacle or feature or line is to difficult for many riders, the race prompter is notified and a new line is created that is easier for all to follow.
    Nobody forced her to race or ride beyond her ability.
    From what I understand there were over 200 passes by riders on that log and she is the only one suing. And there was a clear walk/ride around so you weren’t forced to go over it.
    Dog River is an open trail, any user can use it at anytime. The course wasn’t and can’t be closed for any race or user group because of federal land.

    It was clearly stated on race info that a log was still on the trail. The article in the Oregonian and the lawyer’s statement were misleading.

    From the promoter’s website:
    April 29, 2014 at 12:22 am

    We had riders up on Saturday Only one tree still down. Looks great. Snow yesterday but should clear by mid week.
    Hope to see you out.

  24. Important update:

    I have confirmed that Lisa Belair has dismissed her lawsuit against Fat Tire Farm and Skibowl. Stay tuned.

    1. Avatar JT says:

      Just to be clear the lawsuit was against Fat Tire Farm and Petr Kakes and Hurricane Racing not Skibowl.

    2. Avatar Brian says:

      Great news. Thanks for keeping up updated on this, Jonathan.

    3. Avatar matt says:

      Any updates?

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