A Minneapolis mother has sued Burnsville’s Buck Hill ski resort after her 8-year-old daughter suffered serious injuries in January 2015 after falling 40 feet from a tow rope.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Hennepin County by Tina Graham, says Buck Hill was negligent because the tow rope the girl was using failed to operate correctly and put her at bodily risk.
Don McClure, one of Buck Hill’s owners, said Friday afternoon that the incident happened before he and other investors bought the ski resort in October 2015. He declined to comment further on the lawsuit but confirmed the tow rope in question is still operating at Buck Hill.
According to the lawsuit, the unaccompanied girl rode to the top of a slope, where she didn’t let go and was lifted off the ground. The rope is operated by a pulley attached to a pole and equipped with a device to stop forward motion.
When it kept going, she was carried past the unloading area and toward the pulleys at the top, the lawsuit said. Her skis struck the pole and she fell 40 feet to the ground, knocking her unconscious.
The girl was hospitalized for 11 days and underwent surgery for a fractured leg, pelvis and wrist and a damaged spleen. Her medical costs exceeded $145,000, according to the suit.
Graham accuses Buck Hill staff of being absent from the unloading area and therefore negligent of helping prevent injury to the girl. By leaving the assigned post, the lawsuit says, the attendant failed “to provide proper surveillance to the area” and “stop the tow rope when continued operation” placed her at risk.
Since the incident, the lawsuit says, the girl has had several painful orthopedic surgeries and developed anxiety.
Graham’s attorneys are seeking $50,000 in damages for the girl in addition to compensation for her medical expenses.
Until it was sold, Buck Hill had been owned by its founding family for more than 60 years. McClure, who managed Buck Hill for four decades, and investors David and Corrine Solner have rehabbed the resort to allow for year-round skiing.