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California man sues Moonlight Basin for more than $8.6 million

Apologies for the Beyond the Blotter hiatus. Hopefully this post will get me back on the blogging horse!

One of my goals of this blog is to bring you cases that won't necessarily make the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, but ones that I still find interesting enough to share.

This is one of them.

A California man who was injured while skiing at Moonlight Basin Resort is suing the business, claiming a cat track and obstructed boulder field he crashed on were man-made hazards and Moonlight Basin was negligent in their creation and maintenance.

Brian Kopeikin, an anesthesiologist from Santa Barbara, Calif., sustained the injuries in Feb. 2012 while on vacation in Montana. He is asking to be awarded $90,000 in past medical expenses, $600,000 in lost income, $8 million in future lost income and other unspecified damages.

According to the complaint filed by Kopeikin in U.S. District Court in Butte on June 12:

On Feb. 5, 2012, Kopeikin, a "very experienced" skier who was 49 at the time, was skiing with a friend at Moonlight Basin.

Shortly after 1 p.m., the two were skiing down Upper Elkhorn "well under control and at medium speed."

The Upper Elkhorn run crossed an unnamed cat track that was built by Moonlight Basin. Both edges of the cat track were lined with imported boulders. About 50 feet downhill of the cat track is a boulder field made up of "large, craggy and sharp rocks."

Kopeikin, as he crossed the cat track, saw the boulder field. Trying to avoid head injury, he tucked his shoulder, rolled and landed on his back in the rocks, sustaining multiple "severe, life-threatening, disabling and permanent" injuries.

Kopeikin's injuries include 11 fractured ribs, fractured left shoulder and lacerations of the spleen, among others. He was in the intensive care unit of Bozeman Deaconess Hospital for 11 days.

After returning home, Kopeikin had several other surgeries and therapy treatments.

Kopeikin will require more future surgeries, including one or more total shoulder replacements.

Because of his injuries, Kopeikin has been unable to work as an anesthesiologist.

Counts alleged in the suit include gross negligence and negligent hiring, training, supervision and management.

Moonlight Basin created an "unreasonable" hazard and failed to inspect the premises or mitigate that hazard, the suit claimed. Moonlight Basin's negligence caused Kopeikin's injuries, the suit said.

Moonlight Basin has yet to file a response in the case.


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