A local woman is suing the Killington/Pico resort and a ski lift operator, alleging that she was injured after the operator got his snowboard tangled with her skis, causing her to fall from the lift in 2015.
Last week, a jury was scheduled to be drawn in the case, which was filed in February 2016, but both sides agreed to postpone the case until January because a lawyer representing Ara Lefrancois was recovering from injuries.
In the initial complaint, Lefrancois, through Rutland law firm Miller, Faignant and Fabian, said she was skiing at Pico Mountain on Feb. 8, 2015. She was boarding the ski lift, or tramway, to the Knomes Knoll Triple trail.
Lefrancois accused Lucio Ianieri, a ski lift attendant, of being “engaged in picture taking within the tramway boarding area.”
The complaint said Ianieri rode his snowboard into the path of the ski lift. Lefrancois said Ianieri’s snowboard became entangled in her skis, which caused her to “be pulled from the chair and fall a significant distance to the ground.” According to the complaint, Lefrancois suffered injuries to her hip and other general bodily injuries.
Lefrancois’ complaint alleges negligence on the part of Ianieri and the owners of Killington/Pico for failing to operate the ski lift safely.
The complaint does not request a specific dollar amount but asks for a judgment greater than the minimum amount allowed to the court, as well as compensatory damages, fees and costs.
A response, filed by Rutland law firm Ryan, Smith and Carbine, admitted to some of the assertions from the initial complaint, such as Ianieri’s employment at the time of the incident, but denies others.
The response said the defendants would argue Lefrancois’ injuries were the result of her own actions and that she assumed an inherent risk.
Attorneys for both Lefrancois and Killington/Pico have filed motions about whether Judge Samuel Hoar should preside on the case.
In May, Hoar dismissed Lefrancois’ request to pursue punitive damages against the ski resort.
In his decision, Hoar said Ianieri had only shown “ordinary negligence.”
“Merely alleging that conduct is outrageous does not make it so. Nor, where the allegation of outrage is as unfounded as it is here, does it warrant an assertion-by-assertion debunking. Suffice it to say that the evidence that (Lefrancois) has adduced falls well short of the standard articulated by the Supreme Court,” Hoar wrote.
Lefrancois’ attorney filed a motion in August asking for an order that Hoar recuse himself. The motion said Hoar had ignored evidence of interference with witnesses, concealment of evidence and lying under oath.
“Judge Hoar’s failure to enforce and comply with the rules intended to protect the sanctity of truth in our judicial system created an appearance (Killington/Pico), its attorney and the judge do not have to follow the rules. In doing so, Judge Hoar has created the appearance of impropriety and compromised the search for truth,” the request said.
A response, filed by Killington/Pico, asks Lefrancois’ recusal motion be denied.
“It may be that (Lefrancois) counsel’s strategy is to keep filing motions to menace the presiding judge off this case. This should not be allowed. Dissatisfaction with action taken by a judge, even action allowed to be erroneous, is simply not grounds for recusal ... ,” the response said.
On Aug. 30, Hoar filed an entry declining to recuse himself but referring the request to the chief superior judge.