Texas Couple Sues Jackson Ski Resort, Rental Company For “Catastrophic” Crash

A Texas woman claims in a federal lawsuit that Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Hoback Sports Inc. did not properly inspect the rental equipment that burst apart while she skied, causing her to hurtle down the mountain and suffer permanent injuries.

Clair McFarland

March 15, 20234 min read

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. (Renée Jean, Cowboy State Daily)

By Clair McFarland, State Courts And Crime Reporter 

Accusing a Jackson ski resort of causing a catastrophic fall down a mountain by renting her faulty equipment, a Texas woman and her husband on are suing the resort along with a local ski rental shop and the equipment manufacturer for negligence.  

The couple wants more than $75,000 in damages, but has asked for the specific amount to be determined at trial, according to the lawsuit complaint filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming. 

Married couple Pam Schoen and Chad Fields of Ellis, Texas, visited Jackson starting March 13, 2021, for their anniversary, the complaint says, adding that they rented ski equipment from both Hoback Sports Inc. and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Corp. 

The couple is suing both companies and Head USA, a sports equipment manufacturer registered in Delaware.  

Down The Sundog 

Schoen is an experienced skier and has been skiing since she was 3 years old, the lawsuit says. During her anniversary trip she was reportedly 45 years old and in good health.  

On the morning of March 15, 2021, the pair rode the gondola to the top of the Sundog ski run and put their skis on at the top of the trail, the complaint states.  

Fields skied halfway down the run, then stopped to wait for his wife.  

Schoen started down the run, turned left, then right then left. While she attempted a second right turn, the binding blew off her left ski, sailing about 10-15 feet in the air and causing her left boot to come off the ski, the suit alleges.  

Her left knee “immediately twisted and buckled,” and she fell onto her left shoulder, the complaint says. The right ski was still attached to her right boot, which the lawsuit says caused her to tumble, twist and fall onto her right shoulder, dislocating it.  

She kept tumbling and twisting down the mountain, clawing so hard, the complaint alleges, that her fingernails broke off within her gloves.

Finally, her right ski tore off and the moguls, or bumps, of the next run stopped her 300- to 400-foot descent, the suit says.  

Fields waited with his wife until Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Corp. Ski Patrol members transported her off the mountain by sled to an urgent care facility at the mountain base.  

‘Catastrophic Malfunction’ 

The lawsuit claims that the run was clearly marked and groomed, and there were no natural or unnatural hazards that would have caused the left ski binding to have a “catastrophic malfunction” that caused Schoen’s injuries, which are permanent and serious.  

“Schoen sustained serious, disabling and permanent personal injuries,” reads the complaint, “for which she has received medical treatment and for which she has incurred necessary and reasonable medical care, treatment expense and will incur future medical expense based upon a reasonable degree of medical probability.”  

The complaint also says Schoen’s husband Chad Fields “has suffered a loss of spousal consortium.”  

At Trial 

The proposed allegations in the lawsuit include a strict liability complaint against Head USA and other liability and negligence claims against all three defendants for allegedly failing to inspect and guarantee the quality of the ski equipment.  

The couple is asking the court to enter judgment against the resort, the rental company and the manufacturer and to award general and special damages, recoverable costs and expenses from waging the lawsuit and any other relief.  

None of the defendants could be reached for comment by publication time.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter