A few years ago something horrible and tragic happened, Tito Traversa,a 12-year old climber, fell to his death. Investigators said that his climbing gear wasn’t properly set up; that it failed when he put his weight on it. Who is ultimately responsible? The story is horrible no matter how you look at it.
Watch the video by searching YouTube for “Climbing Death, 12-Year-Old Tito Traversa”
After reading a number of articles I kept noticing a theme, there were quite a few fingers being pointed; everyone was trying to put the liability of the claim on someone else:
- The company that produced the rubber keepers is being charged.
- The owner of the gear-shop where the product was purchased was charged
- The manager of the club who put the tour together was charged
- Two instructors who were on site were charged
The story illustrates how quickly claims can spread to 3rd parties. Did the manufacturer intend for the equipment to fail? Of course not. Did the manufacture do a bad job instructing customers on how to properly use the equipment? Yes? No? Maybe?
What about the owner of the shop who sold the gear: is it his responsibility to make sure his customers know how to use the products purchased in his shop? Maybe?
What if his employee sold the equipment and the owner of the shop never knew the purchase was made? Could the employee also be charged?
How about the climbing club? Are they responsible? It appears that the manager is being dragged into the suit too, but what if he wasn’t trained or properly certified by the club? Could other members be brought into the suit? Maybe?
The two instructors that were on site, were they certified? If so, who certified them?
Unfortunately, a court is going to have to sort it out. Time will tell where the liability falls.
Regardless of the outcome, this case should make us think seriously about the training we provide our employees, the contracts and waivers that we use, and the insurance that we and the organizations we belong to have in place.