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Paralysed skier 'to win millions' after holiday in the French Alps ends in tragedy


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Paralysed skier 'to win millions' after holiday in the French Alps ends in tragedy


By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 12:36 AM on 15th November 2008



article-1085937-027A0C32000005DC-115_233x375.jpg Graham Anderson was left paralysed after a skiing accident in the French Alps


A skier left in a wheelchair for life by an horrific accident in the French Alps is in line for multi-million-pound damages after a judge ruled yesterday that his instructor was negligent.


Graham Anderson's family holiday to Puy St Vincent in 2004 ended in tragedy when he went off piste with his ski school, lost control and slammed into a tree.


Mr Anderson, 46, of Crapstone, Devon, argued he was not experienced enough to have been taken off piste.


At the High Court, Mr Justice Foskett, said French skiing instructor Jerome Portejoie should have realised that the slope was 'too much to ask' of Mr Anderson and a 'step too far'.


He said it was 'foreseeable' that if an accident did occur, it could be serious because of trees on the slope. He said this should have been 'obvious' to the instructor.


The judge said that Mr Portejoie had taken his 'eye off the ball', and his decision to go on to the slope had 'involved a short period of inattention to the true capacity of all members of his group, and Mr Anderson in particular'.


Describing Mr Portejoie as 'generally conscientious', the judge said that he did not find it 'particularly palatable' to have found that he was liable for what had happened.

The father of two's damages, which will be decided later, will be reduced by a third after the judge ruled he was partially responsible because of his own 'contributory negligence'.


He said that although Mr Anderson had felt 'trapped' into tackling the slope because he did not want to split up his group, he could have refused.


There was a 'strong element of trust' placed by a skier in his instructor, said the judge, but it was not the same as a child placing 'total reliance' on his parent or teacher.

'The process involving adults must be a collaborative one,' said the judge.


'I do not think that the law requires that the instructor takes total responsibility in a situation such as that which obtained in this case.'


Mr Justice Foskett also said that his judgement did not mean that anyone who had an accident on a skiing holiday - whether under the control of an instructor or not - could successfully sue for damages.


'Everyone recognises that skiing is an inherently risky pastime and accidents causing injuries, sometimes very serious, will occur, more often than not without negligence being established on the part of anyone involved,' said the judge.


The court heard that it was on the final day of Mr Anderson's holiday with his wife, Lesley - from whom he is now separated - and sons, Joshua and Jamie, that disaster struck.


Mr Anderson - who had been skiing twice before - said he was taken off piste even though he had 'frequently fallen' when tackling similar conditions in the week.


Mr Justice Foskett said despite Mr Anderson's 'remarkable resilience and cheerfulness', the impact on his life had been 'extremely serious' and 'devastating'.

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