Eagle-Vail family featured in lawsuit abuse ads in theaters | AspenTimes.com

Eagle-Vail family featured in lawsuit abuse ads in theaters

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Vail Daily file photoEagle-Vail's Scott Swimm, shown here at age 8, does not ski that much since he was sued by a Pennsylvania man after a collision, the boy's mother says.

EAGLE-VAIL ” An Eagle-Vail family whose then-7-year-old son was sued over a ski crash in 2007 is being featured on the big screen as part of an ad campaign against lawsuit abuse.

The short trailers, which are part of a series of short films made by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, began showing in Denver area theaters yesterday and will continue to show throughout the month.

The trailer, one of four movie ads in the “Faces of Lawsuit Abuse” campaign, depict the stories of the lawsuit abuse victims. The movies are airing across the country in an effort to educate the public about the problems associated with frivolous lawsuits, said Mark Szymanski, director of communications for the institute.

The Colorado ads tell the story of the Swimms, who were sued by Pennsylvania skier David Pfahler over an incident on Arrowhead Mountain in January 2007. Scott Swimm, then 7, was skiing slowly and in control when he tried to pass the other skier, running over Pfahler’s skis, said Scott’s father, Robb Swimm.

The Swimms say the accident resulted in minor falls by both skiers. However, the family was put in the national spotlight after Pfahler, who tore a tendon in his shoulder in the crash, sued Scott and his father.

Since then, the Swimms have agreed to a $25,000 settlement in the crash case instead of going to trial.

“I believe the lawyers used Scott and his age as a pawn to get across a certain fear that ‘We’re going to hurt your child more if you don’t pay us,'” said Robb Swimm in the trailer.

Scott’s mother, Susan Swimm, said she hopes the campaign ads will make people aware of frivolous lawsuits, and that eventually legislative action will save other families from dealing with similar cases. The family would have been ruined financially had they not had liability insurance, she said.

Other ads that will show across the country include other lawsuit stories. In one, a Maryland business was sued for $750,000 after wild geese living near the front of the store threatened a woman. Another Washington, D.C., couple who owned a dry cleaning business were sued for $67 million over a pair of lost pants.

“We hope these will make people think about lawsuits more personally,” Szymanski said. “The solution is not rushing to the courtroom every time there’s an accident, and I think the Swimms’ case shows that pretty well.”