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September 7, 2001-WVC Denies Liability in Skating Fatality

West Valley City attorneys argue a 13-year-old boy who suffered a fatal head injury after attempting to skate down a City Hall handrail should have known better.

The city has denied liability in its response to a 3rd District Court lawsuit filed by the boy's parents, Randall and Diane Peterson. Their son, Ian, died in July 1999 after he fell while attempting to use his in-line skates to skate down a City Hall stairwell handrail in a move known as "splitting the rail." Ian Peterson was not wearing a helmet or other protective gear, and should not have been doing stunts on a handrail that was "obviously" meant for pedestrians, the city said in its filing last week.

"The city has no duty to protect adolescents from their own inexperience, recklessness and lack of judgment by eliminating and modifying handrails in violation of the Uniform Building Code, or to place signs which could do nothing more than warn of the obvious," attorney Allan Larson wrote. "Nothing the city did, or did not do, was the cause . . . of the subject accident."

Before the accident, the city had installed metal barrier cones preventing the move on handrails on the northeast, or front, side of the building. Signs were also posted forbidding blading, skateboarding and bicycling. The Peterson's suit alleges the city was negligent because it did not post the same signs or install barriers on the west side of the building where the fatal accident occurred. But the city claims any 13-year-old should and would have appreciated the risks of injury in splitting the rail on the steep rear stairwell.

In cases involving Traumatic Brain Injury, it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, prove the nature and extent of your injuries, and to enable expert medical witnesses to support the cause of your injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered what you believe may be a traumatic brain injury from an accident, call now at or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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