Krabloonik to pay $1 million to sled-crash victims
Krabloonik has agreed to pay $1 million to a North Carolina couple who were badly injured in a dog-sledding accident in January 2012.
The seven-figure settlement comes before a jury trial had been set for May in the U.S. District Court in Denver, where Charlotte residents Harry and Melody Harden sued the Snowmass Village business for negligence.
The couple had planned to seek $4 million at trial, according to a pre-trial order issued Feb. 6 by Senior District Judge Richard P. Matsch.
Final judgment papers filed Monday show that Melody Harden has agreed to accept $750,000 and Hardy Harden $250,000 as part of the settlement. Krabloonik’s settlement offer required that both plaintiffs agree to those sums.
Krabloonik is under new ownership after Danny and Gina Phillips acquired the business in December. Its former owner of 40 years, Dan MacEachen, will pay the judgment through his insurance carrier, said his local attorney, David Myler of Basalt. The insurer will pay “100 percent” of the judgment, he said.
“It’s significantly less (than what the plaintiffs planned to seek at trial), but it’s still a lot of money,” Myler said. “There’s no doubt there was an accident and injuries for which we’re very sorry and wish didn’t happen.”
The Hardens’ law firm in the suit, Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh and Jardine P.C., issued a statement Tuesday about the settlement.
“With this judgment, Krabloonik is being held accountable for their negligence,” said David Hersh, a name partner with the firm. “This recovery will finally allow the Hardens to move forward after this devastating event.”
According to the Hardens’ suit, which was filed in March 2013, the husband and wife suffered “severe injuries” to various parts of their musculoskeletal systems, which required extensive medical attention.
“The incident was caused by excessive speed, lack of skill by the musher, icy conditions and defective equipment,” the law firm’s statement said. “The musher lost control of the Harden’s sled, causing it to flip over and eject the Hardens face first into a tree at the side of the trail. Both of the Hardens experienced severe, permanent and debilitating injuries that required extensive reconstructive surgery.”
Myler said the settlement does not indicate that Krabloonik is admitting liability or fault for the accident. Krabloonik’s insurance carrier, however, preferred offering $1 million to the Hardens over risking four times that amount at trial, he said.
“It was an accident, there were injuries as there are with skiing and other activities,” he said. “There’s an assumption of risk, and in the lawsuit, (MacEachen’s) fight would have been over whether or not the musher was negligent, and we haven’t admitted that. But the insurance company felt there might be the possibility that the negligence could be proved, so they decided to settle.”
MacEachen still faces another trial in May, when he is scheduled to appear in Pitkin County Court on charges of animal cruelty.
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