Rock Climbing Case Reaches State Supreme Court

By January 19, 2011Uncategorized

It often takes a frustratingly long time for justice to be done. Eight years after a tragic rock wall climbing accident took the life of a University of Missouri student, the wrongful death lawsuit filed on her behalf has been heard at the Missouri Supreme Court.

Christine Ewing was 22 when she died. The case made national headlines at the time because Ewing is believed to have been the first person to die while climbing on a portable rock wall. The accident took place on July 14 of 2003, when Ewing fell and suffered ultimately fatal head trauma in front of hundreds at a Mavericks game. When the rope was found to be frayed, rusted and improperly secured with duct tape of all things, the owner of the wall was convicted of assault.

Ewings’ parents filed lawsuits against the owners of the team as well, bringing the Mavericks’ insurance companies into the matter, specifically Great American Assurance Co.

On January 14 of this year, the Missouri Supreme Court heard a number of arguments in the case that has dragged on for so long. There have already been victories at lower court levels. For example, in 2005 the Ewings were awarded an astonishing $4.5 million dollars. However, Great American Assurance Co. has refused to back the payments by a subsidiary group, Virginia Surety, because Virginia Surety has only paid the Ewings $700,000 rather than the full $1 million it had been ordered to.

The Ewings are insistent that Great American pay the settlement, because out of the companies involved they are the company that hasn’t paid anything. The appeal the Ewings are making is that Great American hasn’t lost anything yet, so it’s hard to call their treatment “harsh.”

There may or may not be further motions filed, up to and including Great American perhaps taking action against Virginia Surety themselves. The case is, again frustratingly, still unfolding.