Snowboarder overdue on $800,000 judgment to Snowmass crash victim
January 19, 2016
A snowboarder who crashed into a skier last January at Snowmass Ski Area is on the hook to pay the victim more than $800,000 in damages.
Efforts to collect on the judgment were made last week when a lien was filed against Randall Guelfo, 40, a Woody Creek resident who works service jobs in Snowmass Village.
The lien was filed in the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder's Office after U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson awarded $796,493 to the plaintiff, Tracey Swaine of Florida, on Nov. 13. Jackson based the default judgment on $96,493 in economic losses, $300,000 for impairment and disfigurement and $400,00 for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. As of Jan. 5, the figure had climbed to $868,510 because of interest.
Swaine sued Guelfo in April in Denver federal court. Her suit accused him of violating the Colorado Ski Safety Act by slamming into her when she was the downhill skier, who has the right of way under state law. The accident happened in the Sheer Bliss area at Snowmass.
"Defendant jumped off a catwalk and was airborne when he collided with (Swaine)," the suit says.
The crash left Swaine with a fractured tibia-fibula, fractured humerus and broken ankle.
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"It was an unfortunate accident," Guelfo said Monday. "She was standing at the bottom of the hill, and I was coming off the top of it. It was a blind landing, and she was standing where she shouldn't be."
The case never went to trial because Guelfo never filed a formal response to the complaint. He once asked for an extension and was granted one. But by June, he had been unresponsive to the case, which went into default. A hearing in Denver was held Oct. 30. Guelfo did not attend.
"I didn't get a lawyer because I was working so much all summer long," Guelfo said. "I really didn't think these people were going to go through with it."
At the hearing, Jackson heard testimony and reviewed ski patrol reports and interviews as well as medical documents related to the accident, according to court records.
Guelfo said he believed Swaine's insurance would cover the cost of her injuries. Sander Karp, Swaine's attorney in Glenwood Springs, said that wasn't the case.
Karp also has filed court papers to garnish Guelfo's wages from his employers, the Viceroy Snowmass hotel and the Snowmass Club.
"I'm certainly not going to let them garnish my wages," Guelfo said.
He added: "If I was a millionaire, I'd give her a million dollars. But I'm not a millionaire, unfortunately."
Karp said Guelfo had his chance to go to court and fight the lawsuit. He said Guelfo has no legal standing to contest the garnishment.
"The judge imposed those damages," he said. "He heard the testimony and was pretty sympathetic toward her."
Swaine was hospitalized for 10 days after the accident, Karp said. She still has difficulty walking and can't climb stairs, he said.
Guelfo said he stayed at the scene of the accident.
"I talked to her husband and told him I wasn't a rich man," he said.
Guelfo said he wasn't injured from the crash.
"I was really bummed out," he said. "She took a lick, for sure. I feel terrible about it, and I wish I could take it all back."