Friday, December 21, 2007

David Pfahler Sues 8 Year old Scott Swimm For Negligent Skiing- by Legal Pub Update: 4-23-09


There is more than good skiing going on in Vail, Colorado. There is bad, negligent skiing according to David J. Pfahler of Allentown, Pennsylvania. David J. Pfahler, 60, has claimed in federal court that Scott Swimm, 8, recklessly caused a ski-slope collision that left the Plaintiff with a shoulder injury. Scott Swimm, was seven at the time of the collision and thus under most state laws, will likely be held to the standard of care for a seven year old.

Pfahler is serious about his suit. He suffered a torn shoulder tendon which required physical therapy and nursing and medical services provided by Pfahler's wife. Pfahler claim's losses at more than $75,000.

Robb Swimm (the father) claims 7 year old Scott was skiing slowly and in control. "It wasn't a violent collision or anything; Scott just kind of tapped his ski boots," exclaimed Scott's dad week. The mom, Susan Swimm, claims that her son weighs 48 pounds and was skiing at 10 mph or less.

"Who in the world sues a child?" said Susan to the press. While Pfahler's Denver attorney, Jim Chalat, declined to comment, one suspects that the answer is he and his client.

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Update 4-6-09: Here is the update that has been requested. Apparently, the insurance company of Robb and Susan Swimm settled the lawsuit in 2008. Now, Robb and Susan are speaking out against "abusive lawsuits." The Swimms are working with Faces of Lawsuit Abuse which is sponsored by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. The organization is committed to exposing and fighting frivolous and abusive lawsuits.

Update 4-23-09: Swimm's video explanation of why they settled: LINK

80 comments:

jester said...

This suit is down right childish.

Jester

jill said...

What a beautiful picture of Vail!


Jill

ML said...

David J. Pfahler should be ashamed of himself....

rjallen said...

David J. Pfahler should grow up and get over it..!!!!

KmSTP said...

I hope the publicity this gets will shame Mr. Pfahler into droping this.

Anonymous said...

I think this is so barred by incurred risk...

If you ski, you assume the risk of getting hurt.

Grow up David!

Anonymous said...

The shameless, malevolent and specious lawsuit against 8-year old Scott Swimm is deeply troubling to me, both as a parent of (once) young skiers and as an ordinary citizen. The writers for the TV show "Boston Legal" could not come up with a scenario as outrageous as this case, nor a character as obstreperous, vexatious and cruel as David J. Pfahler. If Mr. Pfahler wants to try and be funny, he should join a circus!

But, now, let's look at the serious side of this case. The Colorado Ski Safety Act (which bars suits against ski area operators) provides as a matter of Colorado state law that skiing is an inherently dangerous activity, and one of the inherent dangers (e.g., obstacles) set forth in the law is "other skiers." It doesn't take much of a leap to apply the principals of the Colorado Ski Safety Act in order to defend (and defeat!) an action against a non-negligent private person (Scott Swimm) and, accordingly, it is my humble view that Mr. Pfahler's lawsuit is an abuse of process and a plain old-fashioned stick-up. And just look at the damage done already to this youngster by Mr. Pfahler's caustic words and actions at the time of the incident; as a result thereof, Scott Swimm no longer wants to go out and ski. If Vail Resorts is listening, I suggest they file a "friend of the court" brief in defense of this hapless and innocent child, thereby assisting in the process of sending Mr. Pfahler to the dustbin of disingenuous and hollow lawsuits.

Mr. Pfahler's excesses remind me of the following, written by Judge Learned Hand:

"....that a society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone, no court can save; that a society where that spirit flourishes, no court need save..."

I trust that the Federal District Court in Denver will heed Judge Hand's admonition and toss Mr. Pfahler down the courthouse steps!

David M. Stern
Edwards

Legal Pub said...

David, excellent comment. I must say, this is the type of quality post our readers enjoy.It would be great if Jim Chalat or some other plaintiff's attorney posted a comment as to why he thinks the case has merit.

your secret L.A. Reader said...

Go David!

This is exactly what I was thinking. I wonder if a director might want to make a movie out of this incident. I know exactly who could play the hot mom!

Your Secret L.A. Reader

Legal Pub said...

No, Secret L.A. Reader, I have no idea who would like the role of "hot mom." I could guess, but I would bet you would rather keep this one secret.

Best Holiday Wishes and stay out of trouble.

Legal Pub

Anonymous said...

This case gives lawyers a bad name.

Anonymous said...

This case is a black eye on all of america!

Bedhed said...

David J. Pfahler is a repulsive old scrooge who will undoubtedly live his miserable life alone with his ill gotten money. Robb, Susie, Scottie and Rory, I love and I am always there for you. I am a good person from Pa. who lived in Vail and loves the Swimm family who are the kindest and most generous people I have ever known. Tim Lynch

Ron said...

I have not read the specific allegations of the case, but there is a trend toward many more dangerous, out-of-control skiers causing collisions at major ski areas these days. Many people claim you must wear a helmet to protect yourself these days, even if you ski under control. In the early days of the sport when I learned to ski, head injuries were rare, and helmets unheard of. I long for the days of sane and safe skiers on the mountains, who are properly taught how to ski before being unleashed on the runs. I cannot comment on the skiing abilities of this young man, but there are many problems out there these days with youngsters skiing out of control.

Anonymous said...

As a native Colorado skier this is the most outrageous thing I have heard in my life. How can a 7 year old boy be expected to ski perfectly? David J. Pfahler not only put a bad name on lawyers, skiers, and Americans, but he also crushed an innocent child's happiness. I personally hope Pfahler's reputation is ruined, he gets fired, divorced, and gets his identity stolen.

-An angry mountain-dude
happy holidays

Anonymous said...

I am with angry mountain dude. If a kid can't learn to ski without fear of being sued, the sport will die.

I hope scrouge grows up and drops the suit ASAP.

Anonymous said...

I think Jim needs to hear what we think of this suit.

His cell phone is 303-882-4781

James H. Chalat
Denver, Colorado
Partner

phone (303) 502-5007
(866) 701-7292

fax (303) 861-0506

Grandma J. said...

James! This is a ridiculous suit. Are you trying to end the sport and recreation of Skiing?

This is a child you are suing. He was seven. This is as ridiculous as the dry cleaner suit by Pearson.

Think! Then dismiss it!

Grandma J.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the wife has a claim for consortium too!

Jester said...

Forget skiing and learn to Swimm, Scott!

Jester

Anonymous said...

David J. Pfahler shall here to for ever be known as the grumpy old man skier!

Anonymous said...

This affirms the stereotype that lawyers are money hungry leaches who would sue their own mother...

Anonymous said...

No way you could get that injured!

Anonymous said...

i think that david pfahler is a total, stupid, air-headed, blood sucking parasite. and i have half a mind to drive up to his house and take a big steaming one on his lawn.

Legal Pub said...

Anonymous, while we may all agree that David Pfahler is a grumpy old man who used poor judgment in filing this suit, two wrongs never make a right. The way to teach David Pfahler the error of his ways is to voice your public opinion in the form of blogs, letters, letters to the editor and ultimately in the form of a jury verdict, if necessary.

Watuschki said...

I am a resident of Allentown, PA, and please believe me, we are as offended by and disgusted with the nasty and decrepit Mr. Pfahler as you folks are. He has had so many phone calls and letters at home criticizing him that he has left his home for awhile and is hiding out in some unknown place. His slimeball lawyer (chalet) has stated that Pfahler has been "tarred and feathered and run out of town". How fitting!
On behalf of all the folks here in Allentown, I apologize to the Swimm family and to all you nice folks in CO. We ain't all like that creepy wuss.

Judd said...

Watuschki,

Thanks for your apologies. An idiot like Pfahler could destroy tourism and livelihood for a lot of folks. In my opinion, this is about as frivolous case as one can find. Shame on both the lawyer and the client.


Judd

Anonymous said...

Is Pfahler a lawyer too?

Anonymous said...

A new story of scrooge courtesy of David Pfahler. Hey maybe the writers will not have to come back from their strike?

dixie said...

Phahler is Swimming with the sharks on this one.


Dixie

Anonymous said...

F.Y.I.

Pfahler, David J

1131 N 28th St

Allentown, PA 18104-2907

(610) 432-3744

Anonymous said...

Pfahler, David J

1131 N 28th St

Allentown, PA 18104-2907

(610) 432-3744

Anonymous said...

Pfahler, David J

1131 N 28th St

Allentown, PA 18104-2907

(610) 432-3744

Anonymous said...

Are folks sending messages to David?

Anonymous said...

What is his lawyers contact information?


Henry

Anonymous said...

Hasn't anyone seen the article where Pfahler was advised by HIS HEALTH INSURANCE PROVIDER to seek compensation from the Swimm's family? His greedy insurance company wants to subrogate and get their money back!!!

Magic Poet said...

It is utterly remarkable, and wrong, that people are going after the plaintiff for making a valid, just and appropriate use of our courts, to obtain compensation for serious injuries which were caused to him by the actions of another.

The fact that the principal defendant might be a child is not the point, since, the child's parents are responsible for supervising him and if the law provides for payment of damages, they will, naturally, have to pay them.

What the parents are worried about, obviously, is not the reputation of their son, but for their own financial interests. So, any statements they make should be considered as motivated by trying to get themselves, not their son, out of hot water. And the fact that the parents chose to make this a public matter, in order that the uninformed public might force the plaintiff to withdraw his claims, is the strongest proof that they know they are responsible for supervising their son and making sure he didn't injure other people.

Moreover the DEGREE of the plaintiff's injuries have nothing to do with whether the defendants (son and parents) are legally responsible. It has long been established in American law, by a case which established the "thin skull" rule, that IF a defendant is liable for injury, then the fact that plaintiff suffered more severe injuries than most people might have suffered in similar circumstances, does not excuse the defendant from liability for ALL of the defendant's damages. In other words if you do wrong, or commit a tort, you "take your plaintiff as you find them". And, if you just happen to cause injury to someone who is especially susceptible to injury, that is your misfortune. You still have to pay for your plaintiff's damages.

I say let the courts work this out. If there is no legal basis for the claim, then it will be thrown out. Don't get tricked by the parents' attempts to evade their parental responsibility by making the plaintiff out to be an ogre because he insists that his damages be paid for.

If I were the plaintiff's attorney, I'd move for sanctions against the parents for the parents irresponsible and intentional attempt to blackmail the plaintiff into giving up his claim.

mary p. said...

On this forum, the Pubmeister always welcomes both sides to the story. As a reader, I would love to hear the plaintiff's attorney's version of why the child is liable. Seems his standard of care should be that of a child his own age.

And what of incurred risk? Do you not assume or incurr the risk that if you ski on a mountain in close proximity to beginning skiers that you are likely to have some sort of collision?

As for taking matters public, are not lawsuits public information unless there is some kind of a gag order?

Let us hear about it from both sides.


Mary P.

Watuschski said...

Just for everyone's information, that moonbat wuss David Pfahler has had his home phone disconnected!

rick said...

While Pfahler has a right to file suit, he also has a moral duty to not file frivolous claims. Is this frivolous? I am not sure.
Does it sound like the right thing to do based on what has been reported? No way.



Rick

ralph said...

When I was a kid, I recall Donny from next door coming over and doing his tricks on the front stoop, just before he fell off. (Little did his Mom know that she could have sued us and owned our house.) Instead, his mom picked him up and swatted him for being such a goof. It was a neighborhood run a muck.

How did we ever survive?

Ralph

dollar bill said...

ralph, you are from a lost generation, a lost world! Now it is all about money baby!


Dollar Bill

Anonymous said...

You might be right on this one, Bill!

Anonymous said...

Does any one on here support David Pfahler's suit?

Surely someone?

Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pfahler probably hurt his shoulder when he grabbed the youngster. I'd be curious to know if he grabbed him with his "hurt" arm, his "unhurt" arm or with both arms. Could be a significant piece of "evidence" in this bs case.

Anonymous said...

Makes sense to me that he could hurt his shoulder by grabbing the kid!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it ironic that Pfahler works for a division of Reader's Digest called QSP. Pfahler works as a school fundraising professional. His job is to help school kids earn money for field trips - instead of helping kids - he is sueing them.

Anonymous said...

Pfahler is a misguided man aimlessly meandering the mine fields of litigation.

Anonymous said...

Pfahler is a money hungry idiot in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether David Pfahler is right or wrong to pursue a lawsuit; however, I do know that to publish his name, address, and telephone number on a site such as this is harassment. Perhaps the Swimm family should have kept this matter private

Eagle Advocate said...

Is Pfahler's name not public record? Was he not listed in the phone book?

I for one, support his right to sue. But when you do choose to sue, and you become a public figure, you lose some of your expectations to privacy, in my view.

Anonymous said...

Law suits are generally open to the public. His law suit and the evidence in the case should be accessible to the public.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photo!

Anonymous said...

This story generated a lot of bad feelings for lawyers!

Ben said...

Status of the lawsuit?

Anonymous said...

My comment is to "Magic Poet" and those looking for an update on this case. The parents are not personally liable, because they are insured. They did not go to the press, the press came to them. Vail is a small town and when you sue one of our children, it makes the local paper and gets spread from there. The Swimms are very concerned with the effect this case has on their son. So, they asked their insurance company to settle it to prevent Scott from having to go to trial. So, they made Mr.Phaler an offer. Mr. Phaler said he would only accept the offer if the mother signed a lifelong gag order and if they sign a document stating they would never sue him for mental damages done to Scott as a result of this case. By the way, Scott has already testified in court twice over this case. The Phaler's have now filed a suit against the parents as well. The Swimm children have been professionally coached since they were old enough to ski. They are in the best programs in the valley and are as skilled as children can be. Scott is a model student and is reguarly awarded at his school for his integrity, respect and hard work. This is not a case of an out of control skier. Nor is this a case of a negligent parent. No one wants to see this case procede....especially not his family. However, Mr. Phaler and Mr. Chalat will not let this die. Mr. Phaler was a semi-pro baseball player and had three surgeries on his shoulder prior to the incident on the mountain. His insurance covered most of his medical bills. He wants compensation for lost vacation time and he wants his wife to be compensated for the time she spent taking care of him. For the record, this is not the first time the Phaler's have sued a skier on Vail Mountain...this is just the first time it was a child. So, I guess the moral of this story is .....if you need your old baseball injuries to be fixed for good, go skiing in the most expensive resort in the world and hope you get hit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. Insurance is not relevant. The Swimm's paid their own premiums. Settling frivolous suit raises the cost of their premiums and everyone elses!

The lawsuit seems to be a huge stretch. Pfahler assumed or incurred the risk. Go to trial Swimm family. One it will be an educational experience for young Scott and two, you will likely win.

Anonymous said...

Grow up Pfahler!

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, it was stupid of Pfahler to bring this law suit. I assum it was settled out of court?

Legal Pub said...

Update 4-6-09: Here is the update that has been requested. Apparently, the insurance company of Robb and Susan Swimm settled the lawsuit in 2008. Now, Robb and Susan are speaking out against "abusive lawsuits." The Swimms are working with Faces of Lawsuit Abuse which is sponsored by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. The organization is committed to exposing and fighting frivolous and abusive lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

THANKS FOR THE UPDATE

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the kid could have this Phaler character arrested for child abuse. He grabbed him and shook him, right? Now that would be sweet!

Anonymous said...

http://www.ilrinfo.org/latestad_co.cfm

Legal Pub said...

The Swimmm family gives a video interview as to why they settled the case and what they think about frivolous law suits:

http://www.ilrinfo.org/latestad_co.cfm

Tim Ellis said...

There is a special place in hell reserved for David Pfahler and James Chalat. What a bunch of dirtbags tormenting a child. Completely outrageous!

Anonymous said...

Hard to disagree, Tim

Anonymous said...

What's most shocking to me is that Mr. Pfahler is banned from Vail Resorts for life. If I was managing risk for VA, first thing I would do is lifetime ban anyone eager to sue an 8 year old kid. If he doesn't hesitate to sue the kid, why wouldn't he sue VA first chance he got?? This guys a liability, I'd kick him off my property at first sight.

Anonymous said...

What's most shocking to me is that Mr. Pfahler is NOT banned from Vail Resorts for life. If I was managing risk for VA, first thing I would do is lifetime ban anyone eager to sue an 8 year old kid. If he doesn't hesitate to sue the kid, why wouldn't he sue VA first chance he got?? This guys a liability, I'd kick him off my property at first sight.

Anonymous said...

I agree with tim e. I also agree with banning Pfahler for life.

Anonymous said...

Hope Scott Swimm grows up to be a judge!

Anonymous said...

No information to be found on Pfahler, but the lawyer prides himself on how much he gets his clients from "ski collisions".

Anonymous said...

Magic Poet:

The fact is that Pfahler wasn't following the Skier's Responsibility Code, the National Ski Area Association's standard and in part,(I believe, correct me if I'm wrong) Colorado State Law. Pfahler was stopped in the middle of a run. If that is the case, which witnesses have described as true, then theoretically PFAHLER could be held responsible and the Swimm family could sue HIM.

This type of accident happens DAILY at ski areas around the world. And DAILY the victims simply get up, apologize, and ski away. Why isn't it that simple, even at the most expensive resort in North America? There is no possible way that one can be that "injured" from someone skiing over your topsheets while you were stopped.

Vail should give Scott free season passes for life.

Anonymous said...

Don't confuse us with facts or law. This is all about money and as usual, Pfahler hit his target (or so to speak.)

Legal Eagle 3 said...

Mansuit: If you want to advertise, then do so in an honorable way by requesting permission. Being sneaky is not a way to impress others.

JPritch said...

David J. Pfahler is now dead. He passed away a few months ago at the age of 65. Google his name and you get his obituary. Karma's a biotch isn't it David? Keep that spot next to you sizzling for your scuzball lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Looks like he got his payback "David J. Pfahler, 65, of Allentown, passed away in his home on Wednesday, June 27, 2012."

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/mcall/obituary.aspx?pid=158286738#fbLoggedOut

Anonymous said...

Will it now turn into a wrongful death suit against the young lad?

legal Eagle 7 said...

No one at legal pub wants any one to die. May this velour legal warrior rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Magic poet
you are a moron.

Anonymous said...

Ok this is ridiculous. A grown man of 60 is goin after a lil boy who was 7. The man's a jack a**!!!