The Appellate Group

Donovan v. Sutton

Donovan v. Sutton, 2021 UT 58 (Petersen, J.)

Torts; Duty of Care

A 9-year-old skier on a “First Time” “green bunny hill” for new skiers collided with a woman who had stopped in the middle of the route to take a photo. The woman sued the 9-year-old skier and her father, arguing that they were negligent and had breached their duty of care to her. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the 9-year-old and her father, and the Utah Court of Appeals affirmed. On certiorari, The Utah Supreme Court affirmed, holding:

  • The heretofore yet unarticulated standard of care for skiers “is simply that a person has a duty to exercise reasonable care while skiing.” The standard of care for a 9-year-old is measured by the degree of care that ordinarily would be observed by a 9-year-old child of the same intelligence and experience under similar circumstances. Here, the young girl was being supervised by her father, was skiing slowly, came out of her “wedge,” lost control, and hit the woman, injuring the woman’s shoulder and arm. The father’s supervision included slowly skiing backward downhill and giving her instruction. The undisputed facts do not establish that the young girl breached her duty to ski with reasonable care or that her father negligently supervised her.
  • Of note: At this time, the high court declines to adopt section 316 of the Second Restatement of Torts as the standard of care for negligent supervision. It may reconsider doing so in the future.

Read the full court opinion