This monthÂ’s hero is an unlikely one, to say the least. HeÂ’s David Pfahler, a 60-year-old attorney whoÂ’s suing an 8-year-old boy for injuries he sustained from a collision on a ski slope in Beaver Creek, Colorado.Like martyrs fighting for what they hold dear (in this case, a healthy settlement), Pfahler and his wife have been vilified by an internet lynch mob that has branded them as greedy and irrational. Jim Chalat, the Allentown, Pennsylvania coupleÂ’s attorney, said they have been subjected to an Â“electronic tar and feathering,Â” including repeated harassing phone calls to their home and demands that Mr. Pfahler be terminated by his employer, ReaderÂ’s Digest.Meanwhile, we at Red Shtick believe the former teacher and basketball coach is valiantly teaching an overprivileged youngster a valuable life lesson. Thanks to Mr. Pfahler, at least one spoiled kid is quickly learning that, no matter how special your parents may say you are, life is not one big bunny slope covered in fresh powder.
Pfahler is suing Scott Swimm, who was seven when the collision occurred. Since Scott is a minor, his father, Robb Swimm, is also named in the federal suit, which seeks compensation for medical bills, time missed at work, lost vacation expenses, and other costs totaling $75,000. Their first court appearance is scheduled for January 7, 2008 in Eagle County.
The suit claims that, on January 12, 2007, a Â“plainly and readily visibleÂ” Mr. Pfahler was Â“skiing at a slow pace ahead of the defendant.Â” It further claims that Â“Swimm was skiing negligently and recklessly, at a high rate of speed. He collided into Mr. Pfahler causing him to be injured.Â”
PfahlerÂ’s suit asserts Â“the collision caused Mr. Pfahler to suffer a massive anterior rotator cuff tearÂ” and he has since had to undergo Â“an extensive and continuous course of physical theraphy.Â” It also claims that Â“Mr. Pfahler may sustain permanent disability, impairment, and disfigurement and heightened risks of arthritic changes in his shoulder."
Of course, some people may question the wisdom of suing a child, but Chalat says it doesn't matter how old a skier is. The Colorado Ski Safety Act not only states that the uphill skier has the duty to avoid any person in front of him, but also that children are just as responsible for their actions as adults. Thus, according to case law cited by Chalat, they can be sued like adults.
"It doesn't matter if you're 8, 18 or 80," Chalat says. "Skiing is not a contact sport."
Naturally, the elder Swimms are defending their little snow angel. They say that Scott has been skiing since he was two and that heÂ’s had years of lessons with Vail Resorts, noting that heÂ’s a responsible skier.
HeÂ’s been skiing in Vail since he was two? How do you think Bode Miller got to be such a prick
Furthermore, Robb Swimm says his precious son merely Â“tappedÂ” PfahlerÂ’s ski boots, adding that it was not a violent attack. His wife, Susan Swimm, the woman who bore the perfect offspring, says her cherub couldnÂ’t have been traveling faster than 10 mph.
Chalat insists, though, that the impact from colliding with the 48-pound human projectile was so strong that Pfahler was thrown and landed with his skis in the air. Even if he had not been physically harmed, we believe Pfahler would still be entitled to sue for an injured ego.
In an interview with a local TV station, Scott said that, when the two of them were on the ground, he tried to get up and apologize to Pfahler. He claims, though, that Pfahler held him down, told him he would sue his family, and called him a "fÂ–king piece of shÂ–t."
ItÂ’s a safe bet Scottie never heard anything like that from his doting folks. At least the kid ran into someone who was willing to enlighten a sheltered child about the realities of adulthood, especially with regard to dealing with lawyers.