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The Figaro reports on an eventually successful claim against Font Romeu by a woman rendered paraplegic in a skiing accident. Other ski stations must be thinking long and hard about the implications of the ruling.

Roughly translated, the report says:

The commune of Font Romeu in the Pyrenées-Orientales has been found liable for damages to a skier who became tetraplegic following a heavy fall on a green slope.

The decision is disturbing for other French ski stations. Font Romeu has been found responsible for a young woman’s accident who was made tetraplegic,, as reported by Ouest-France. Alyette Beaufils, who was 23 in 1997, the time of the accident,  skidded on a sheet of ice on a green piste in the Font Romeu skiing area. She left the piste and collided with a rock some metres further on. The victim, from Mayenne, suffered multiple trauma which led to paralysis and cost her many surgical operations.

A long legal battle started for the young woman and her parents who had always considered that the green piste had been badly maintained by the station. In the first instance, the tribunal of Montpellier than the Court of Appeal of Marseille rejected the family’s claims for compensation. After the dismissal of an appeal to the Conseil d’Etat and a new dismissal by the Tribunal of Perpignan, the family were finally successful.

The Commune of Font-Romeu was sentenced to pay damages to Aylette Beaufils of €800,000 together with a security of €200,000 to the Caisse Maladie of Maine-et-Loire. The judge has also called on medical experts to determine the cost of the injuries suffered as well as the provision of accommodation adapted for the young woman’s handicap.

Heavy consequences for ski stations
The lawyers of the ski station speak of a final total which could reach 2 or 3 million euros once the experts have calculated the financial needs caused by the handicap. It falls to the station’s insurers to decide or not on an appeal since it is they, not the commune, who will bear the responsibility of the compensation costs.

According to Jean-Louis Démelin, Mayor of Font-Romeu, the judgment given by the Court of Appeal of Montpellier constitutes a “first” which could have heavy consequences for all the French ski Stations. “None of them today is able to make the whole length of its pistes secure,” he said anxiously.

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