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Big Sky Resort is not at fault for a 2015 ski accident that prompted a Montana environmental attorney and former U.S. House candidate to sue the resort for $50 million, according to a jury decision in the case.

Bozeman attorney John Meyer was skiing at Big Sky Resort in 2015 when he and a friend unknowingly skied into a closed area of the resort, according to court documents. After ski patrol told the two the area was closed, Meyer said he skied over a steep slope and hit a hidden cat track, which ejected him from his skis.

Meyer broke several ribs, an arm and a shoulder. The incident left him in the hospital for about a month, including several days in an induced coma.

Meyer filed a lawsuit against Big Sky in early 2018, alleging that the accident was caused by the resort’s negligence in marking closed or out-of-bounds areas.

But a jury on March 11 disagreed, deciding earlier this month that Meyer’s injuries were caused by the “inherent dangers and risks of skiing” and not the resort, according to federal court records.

Meyer said he was disappointed with the verdict.

“I was going to take the money from any jury verdict and basically purchase health care for employees at Big Sky,” he said.

“I think that it’s important for people to know that Big Sky is putting its profit over its own employees and if anybody says differently, they’re going to sue you. I think people need to think twice about going to ski at that resort.”

Big Sky Resort President and COO Taylor Middleton said in an emailed statement that results of the lawsuit uphold the Montana Skier Statute, which says that there are inherent risks when skiing that are accepted by the skier.

“We are gratified that the court has upheld this standard of personal responsibility, and happy that John Meyer has recovered and has returned to work and an active lifestyle of skiing and climbing,” Middleton said.

The resort filed a countersuit after Meyer’s original filing that alleged he was using the legal action for political gain in his second run for the U.S. House, which was unsuccessful.

Meyer said that wasn’t the case, and that if it was using legal action for political gain, he would have dropped the suit long before this past week’s verdict.

“I’m now stuck with the attorney’s fees. I have to pay these lawyers who defended the lawsuit against me that Big Sky filed,” Meyer said. “I still have medical bills, I have attorney’s fees, there’s a whole bunch of baggage there. Just because the jury’s decided doesn’t mean that life is moving on the way it was before the accident.”

Meyer said he not sure if he is planning on filing any other litigation against the resort.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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