German man files suit over Snowmass snowboarding accident

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

A Basalt man has been accused of causing a snowboarding accident at Snowmass Ski Area last year, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week.

Richard Price was snowboarding along the Naked Lady run in the Alpine Springs area on March 5 when he crashed into a German man, Lothar Krachen, causing serious injuries, the civil suit states. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver on Friday.

Krachen also was snowboarding on the same intermediate-level trail that sunny day, “in a wide open area without any visual obstructions or terrain changes,” the suit says.

Price “was snowboarding at a high speed; he was at all relevant times uphill of Mr. Krachen and overtaking Mr. Krachen from above. Mr. Price collided into Mr. Krachen from behind,” according to the suit. “Mr. Price had the primary duty, as the uphill and overtaking snowboarder, to avoid colliding into Mr. Krachen,” a responsibility defined in the Colorado Ski Safety Act passed in 1979.

Christopher Koupal of Chalat Hatten Koupal & Banker PC, of Denver, is listed in the suit as Krachen’s legal counsel. Laura Tighe, of Denver law firm Bayer & Carey PC, is named as the attorney for the defendant. Tighe could not be reached by phone for a comment Monday.

At the time of the collision, Krachen was employed as a pilot for the German airline Lufthansa. Because of his injuries, he has not received medical clearance to return to work “and has sustained lost income,” the suit says.

“It is expected that he will continue to lose income in the future and that he will suffer a loss of earning capacity,” the suit states.

The effects of the injuries are numerous, and include limited mobility in the spine and right shoulder, extreme pain, frequent headaches and “significant loss of gross motor strength.” Following the accident, Krachen was treated in the Aspen Valley Hospital emergency room, and upon his return to Germany, he underwent an arthroscopic right shoulder revision, the suit says.

“According to his treating orthopedist, Mr. Krachen will suffer a permanent impairment in his right shoulder and cervical spine. He will also suffer from long-term deterioration of the shoulder joint likely requiring restorative surgery in the future,” according to the suit.

The Naked Lady trail was well within Krachen’s snowboarding ability, the lawsuit adds.

The suit seeks damages in an amount to be determined at a jury trial, as well as reimbursement for legal costs.

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