Family suing after girl injured by rolling cheese wheel at Whistler
Published Wednesday, October 19, 2016 1:50PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 19, 2016 2:47PM PDT
A five-kilogram wheel of cheese crashed into a little girl and broke her leg at Whistler over the summer, according to a lawsuit launched by her family.
The incident took place in August at The Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival, an annual event that saw participants chase runaway cheddar down a hill for a chance at taking it home.
The racers frequently slip and tumble in the process, but one family of spectators claims things also got rough on the sidelines.
According to a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court last week, "a cheese wheel came rolling down the hill and stretched the safety net," slamming into Juli Nonaka and breaking her leg.
The suit, which was filed on the child's behalf by her guardian, names Vail Resorts, Dairy Farmers of Canada and Smak Media & Promotions as defendants. Vail Resorts recently purchased Whistler Blackcomb, and the Dairy Farmers of Canada hosts the annual cheese rolling event.
The lawsuit claims the little girl's injuries were the result of negligence, and that the defendants failed to properly train staff, adequately set up netting, or "take any reasonable care to prevent injury or damage" at the event. The family is seeking unspecified damages, including for "loss of income earning capacity."
None of the allegations have been proven in court, and none of the defendants has submitted a statement of defence in the case.
The history of cheese rolling dates back hundreds of years, with the most famous annual event taking place near Gloucestershire, England. Injuries are a common occurrence, and safety concerns led to the cancellation of the roll in 2010, though it has since enjoyed a popular comeback.
The most injuries recorded at a single event was in 1997, when at least 33 people were hurt, according to a website that bills itself as the "Only Authoritative Site of Cheese Rolling" for Gloucestershire.
Nearly 10,000 came out for this year's Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival, according to Dairy Farmers of Canada, and 153 people took part in the men’s and women’s cheese chases.
Wheels of aged farmhouse cheddar, which were produced by Courtenay-based Natural Pastures, were won by Summerland resident Mike MacDonald and Laura Chipman of Bainbridge Island, Wash.