The plaintiffs, Thomas Taylor (63) and Linda Taylor (57) were guests at The Point at Saranac Lake, a luxury 5-star hotel in Franklin County. The plaintiffs claimed that the hotel arranged a snowmobile tour with Adirondack Snowmobile Rental. The tour was set up by the hotel for the plaintiffs and four other guests (2 other couples) who were also staying at the hotel. All 6 of the guests were beginners – each of whom had never been on a snowmobile before.Payment was arranged through the hotel. The hotel not only arranged the tour but charged the guests 20% extra for this service.
The Tour Guide, Robert Pinsdorf, an employee of Adirondack Snowmobile, started the tour approximately 10 miles from the hotel, at a campground know as Charlie’s Inn. The hotel guests were given a 10-20 minute lesson in the operation of the snowmobile; however, the guide was charged with the responsibility of leading the guests on the tour and keeping them safe throughout the tour. The plaintiffs claimed that they were unfamiliar with the trails, road crossing and trail signs. Although the first hour of the tour went fine during the second hour, one of the snowmobiles broke down due to a faulty drive belt. The tour guide then decided to head back to Charlie’s Inn to get another belt. He left one guest in the broken snowmobile and took one guest with him on his snowmobile. He told the others to follow him. It was claimed that he was in a rush and, at this time, failed to protect the novice snowmobilers by traveling ahead of them without warning them of road crossings and stop signs and without knowing where they were. Plaintiff s decedent, Thomas Taylor, failed to stop for a stop sign. It was claimed that he was unaware that he was traveling towards a road and stop sign. It was at this point that the plaintiff s decedent crossed the road, without stopping, and was struck by a van driven by an elderly man (who was dismissed from the case on summary judgment).
Although the plaintiff claimed that the Tour Guide, Pinsdorf, was negligent in failing to have the guests cross the road safely, the Tour Guide and Adirondack Snowmobile had no insurance coverage for the accident. The plaintiff claimed that The Point was responsible for the accident based on the claim that the Snowmobile Guide, Pinsdorf, was acting as an agent of The Point. The claim against The Point was not based on a negligence theory but rather agency law. The Point, in tum, claimed that the snowmobile company was an independent company having nothing to do with The Point and that the decedent himself was fully responsible for the accident in that he failed to stop for a stop sign.
As a result of the impact, Thomas Taylor, the driver of the snowmobile, was killed on impact. His wife, Linda Taylor, suffered fractures of her tibia, femur and pelvis and underwent 5 surgeries to repair the fractures. Plaintiff also claimed that Linda suffered a traumatic brain injury. Plaintiff further claimed that plaintiff s decedent suffered a loss of earnings in that he would have developed a successful hedge fund; however, the fund had not yet been profitable.
The plaintiff called Dr. Bartlett, the treating orthopedic surgeon to discuss her orthopedic injuries and Curt Lafrance, a neuro psychiatrist to discuss her traumatic brain injury. The defense called Dr. Carr, an orthopedist to refute the severity of the injuries. Interestingly, Dr. Carr admitted to earning more that $1,000,000 per year based on his continuing devotion to litigation on behalf of the defense (Click here to read the trial transcript of the defendant’s Orthopedist). Also called by the defense was Dr. Todd who testified to the neurological injuries.
After a 3 week trial and immediately prior to summations, the case settled for $7,750,000.00. This is the largest settlement ever in Franklin County, New York.