Atkins V. Peak, 514 N.E. 2d 850 (1987)

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Atkins v. Peak, 514 N.E. 2d 850 (1987)
Decision by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Facts: On March 20, 1982, plaintiff Marybeth Atkins sustained serious injuries while skiing at Jimmy Peak Ski Resort. On December 5, 1984 plaintiff Marybeth Atkins sued defendant Jimmy Peak. Plaintiff alleged that her injuries were caused by defective ski equipment she had rented from the rental facility on the premises. She further alleged that the defendant failed to inspect ski equipment and the failure amounted to negligence and breach of contract. An amended complaint was filed on February 14, 1986, the plaintiff added counts that the defendant had breached warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. The defendant moved for summary judgment which was granted by a judge of the Superior Court on the ground that the plaintiff’s action was barred by the statute of limitations. The case was transferred to Massachusetts’s Supreme Court by its own motion.

Issue: The question in this case is whether the one-year limitation for action provision of G. L. c. 143, Section 71P for an action by an injured skier against a ski area operator is injustice, where there is claims of negligence, breach of warranty, and breach of contract?

Holding: The court concluded that the one year limitation in 71P applies to all personnel injury actions brought by skiers against ski area operator arising out of skiing injuries. The plaintiff’s action was time barred, the Superior Court did not err and judgment is affirmed.

Rationale: Plaintiff argued on appeal the statute of limitations by contending that her suit was brought against the defendant as the lessors of the ski equipment not the ski area operator so the limitation did not apply. The court did not agree with plaintiff's argument. Furthermore, the court concluded that the legislature could not have decided that ski area operator require more protection than other sectors. Due to the perceived threat to the...
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