On June 2, 2006, a tour group organized by our client gathered at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park. The group traveled via several vans owned and operated by an independent rafting company to a rafting launch site at Deadman’s Bar on the Snake River. The trip was expected to take approximately one hour. There the larger group was split into four smaller groups, and a guide was provided by the rafting company for each raft.
The raft at issue, Raft No. 2, had 11 passengers. The raft guide was an employee of the rafting company and had been for four years. Tragically, during the float trip, Raft No. 2 struck a log jam and was upended as a result. All the passengers were thrown into the river. Despite hard fought efforts to rescue everyone, three of the passengers died as a result of this accident.
Suit was filed against our client, the company that organized the tour alleging that it was responsible for the rafting accident and the deaths that occurred under a variety of theories including negligence, fraud and joint venture.
Bill McKellar and Brian Hunter filed motions for summary judgment on behalf of our client based on the Wyoming Recreation Safety Act, lack of duty/negligence, joint venture, fraud and punitive damages. The Court denied the motion for summary judgment regarding the Wyoming Recreation Safety Act but, granted the summary judgment motions based on Negligence, Joint Venture, Fraud and Punitive Damages. Ultimately our client was dismissed from the suit prior to trial based on the Court`s finding that as a matter of law the tour group operator had no duty to the Plaintiffs with regard to a rafting activity that was provided by an independent third-party vendor. The tour group operator "did not owe a duty to the tour members to warn them of the conditions of the river or otherwise act to prevent their injuries."