An updated statement of defence from the Golden RCMP is misleading according to the Whistler lawyer acting for the family of a Quebec woman who died last winter after skiing out of bounds from Kicking Horse Resort.
Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said this week that the RCMP's statement is essentially the same as the one they filed earlier this year, with some rewording of their arguments.
The new statement of defence, filed in Vancouver courts last month, claimed Gilles Blackburn, 51, and Marie-Josee Fortin, 44, made a "deliberate choice" to ski out of bounds near Kicking Horse Mountain Resort last winter.
The couple were lost in the backcountry for seven days before Fortin died of hypothermia. During that time, the couple stamped out a large S.O.S. sign in the snow to try and attract attention. The S.O.S. was seen but no search was taken until after Fortin had died.
The previous statement of defense similarly claimed the RCMP acted responsibly and were not negligent.
In response to the updated statement, Wilhelm-Morden said when it comes to deliberate choices, it is important to keep in mind that the entire lawsuit was launched because the RCMP made a deliberate choice not to initiate a rescue when they heard a call for help and Search and Rescue made a deliberate choice not to search and rescue.
"That is the whole gist of the lawsuit," said Wilhelm-Morden. "As a result of the deliberate choices made by the RCMP and Search and Rescue, Marie-Josee Fortin died."
Blackburn initiated the lawsuit in June, four months after being rescued near Golden, B.C.
Blackburn is suing several defendants, including the RCMP, Kicking Horse Resort, and The Golden and District Search and Rescue Association. His two sons are also seeking compensation through the courts.
All parties are in the process of arranging trial dates, added Wilhelm-Modren and at this point, it is expected that the trial will take place sometime in 2011.