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Man claims Welch chair lift battered him in 2008 incident

A Louisiana man claims Welch Village Ski Area staff acted negligently when a chairlift continued to spin and rake over him after he became stuck on a ski hill.

An attorney for Robert L. Higgins filed suit against the ski area after the 2008 incident, which left the man with what he claims are serious injuries.

"They weren't paying attention on the lift and it resulted in him getting a pretty nasty injury," Larry Stern, an attorney for Higgins, told the R-E Tuesday.

According to a civil complaint first filed in Dakota County before the case was moved in May to Goodhue County, Higgins was at Welch Village Jan. 5, 2008, where he rode a chairlift to the top of a beginner hill.

He stepped off the lift to begin his descent when he "experienced difficulty leaving the dismount area, forcing (him) to remain in the path of the oncoming chairs," the complaint states.

The lift continued to operate, allegedly raking across Higgins' body. The complaint states the impact left him with a broken arm resulting in artery and nerve damage.

Higgins also received injuries to his shoulder, head and neck, according to the complaint.

Stern alleges Welch failed to properly train and supervise its staff. He also claims the ski area was negligent since the lift operator allegedly failed to keep a proper lookout of the dismount area.

Higgins' wife, Kimberly, also is suing for loss of income.

Attorneys for Welch Village denied the allegations. According to court documents filed by lawyers for the ski area, Higgins "assumed the risk of any damages he may have sustained" and alleged that any damage he received was a result of his own negligence.

Brian N. Johnson, attorney for Welch Village, did not return calls seeking comment on the case.

Stern said he doesn't expect the case to reach the trial phase for at least another year.