Skier’s death won’t stop REI lawsuit - SNEWS

Skier’s death won’t stop REI lawsuit

Monika Johnson died in a skiing accident on Snoqualmie Pass on Feb. 1, 2011. But that didn't stop the Washington State Court of Appeals from ruling in her favor in her lawsuit against REI six days later.

Monika Johnson died in an avalanche on Snoqualmie Pass outside of Seattle on Feb. 1, 2011, but that didn’t stop her from getting her day in court.

On Feb. 7, just six days after her death, and a little more than a day after search and rescue crews recovered her body, the Washington State Court of Appeals ruled that Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) must take responsibility for an alleged defect in a carbon-fiber bicycle fork that broke and caused her to crash in 2007.

According to a report from, “The bike and part were manufactured by Aprebic Industry Company, but sold under REI's brand name Novara. The appellate court agreed with the trial court's ruling that REI has the liability of a manufacturer under the Washington Product Liability Act.”

“Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's ruling that Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) is not entitled to seek to allocate fault to the manufacturer of the defective product that REI branded as its own,” Judge Stephen Dwyer wrote for the court's three-judge panel on Feb. 7, according to the report. “We also conclude that the trial court erred neither by finding REI strictly liable for the injuries caused by the defective product nor by ruling that any third-party claim by REI against the manufacturer would be severed for trial.”

Johnson lost four teeth and suffered a broken jaw and head injuries in the bicycle accident. The skiing accident that killed her occurred when a cornice she was standing on failed, dropping her hundreds of feet and burying her in snow.

“It's so poignant and ironic that this came out today,” Robert Christie, Johnson's attorney, told the Seattle Timeson the day of the court”s ruling. "She would have been really thrilled with the sense of justice this opinion articulates.”

He told the Times that the ruling did not surprise him, “but the timing blows me away.”

--Peter Kray

On Oct. 6, 2010, veteran journalist Peter Kray joined the SNEWS team and is now editor of the new SNEWS WinterSports channel. We trust you are enjoying the full offering of WinterSports news. Be sure to email your friends and let them know the best WinterSports news has arrived -- just in time for the winter season. Got WinterSports news? Send your WinterSports news to Kray at Subscribers can also post WinterSports news releases directly to the SNEWS website. Email us at to learn about posting your own news releases, or for any other questions or comments. We love to hear from our readers!



WinterSports Hot Sheet: tree well deaths, top sales, lawsuits & more

Whitefish Mountain Resort officials are urging those wishing to take advantage of the deep powder covering the mountain to familiarize themselves with risks and safety techniques related to Non-Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Deaths, or NARSIDs, following the deaths of one skier more

Nautilus loses preliminary injunction in Icon lawsuit

Losing the first round court battle in its lawsuit charging Icon with infringement of its Bowflex patents, The Nautilus Group will appeal a court ruling that denied a preliminary injunction it sought against Icon Health & Fitness. The injunction would have halted Icon's Weider more


Cybex continues sales improvement, awaits lawsuit appeal

Cybex International, Inc. (NASDAQ: CYBI) reported revenue up 18 percent for the second quarter 2011, but its quarterly net loss widened as it continues to appeal an unfavorable lawsuit ruling. The Medway, Mass.-based manufacturer of fitness equipment reported second-quarter more


Cybex swings to 1Q profit, continues lawsuit appeal

Cybex International Inc. (Nasdaq: CYBI) continues to recover from the effects of a down economy and recent unfavorable judgment from a liability lawsuit as it reported higher revenue and swung to a profit for the first quarter. The Medway, Mass.-based fitness equipment more

First climbing wall death shocks industry

Christine Ewing, 22, of Jefferson City, Mo., became the first person to die from a climbing wall accident, when she fell from a portable wall in Columbia on July 14. Columbia Assistant State Fire Marshall Randy Cole told SNEWS that Ewing fell to the ground when a cable on the more


Ski community mourns death of freeskier Ryan Hawks

Skiers from Vermont to California are reeling from the death of Ryan Hawks this week. The 25-year-old freeskiing competitor died Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 after sustaining head, back, lung and kidney injuries during a run at the Freeskiing World Tour event on Sunday, February more


CO Season Roundup: Skier visits, record Vail, lodging and more

With only one Arapahoe Basin still running the chairs, Colorado is calling it a season, reporting more than 12 million skier visits from Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA), and a record season at Vail. CSCUSA, which reports Colorado visits separately from Vail Resorts’ Vail, more


In memoriam: Famed skier, retailer Roger Buchika dies

Race-winning skier and award-winning retailer Roger Buchika, died on Dec. 18, 2011, at the age of 67. According to the official obituary, Buchika, of Atkinson, N.H., died peacefully with his loved ones by his side.  Under the tutelage of Olympic skier Brooks Dodge, Buchika earned more


Did you hear?...Bowflex machine not at fault in student athlete’s death

The death of a student athlete at a home east of Sacramento, Calif., was ruled a “tragic accident,” and a Bowflex exercise machine did not cause the death, according to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office overseeing the investigation. Justin Butler, 16, was found unconscious in more