Hiker’s Family sites/default/files Lawsuit Against Wilderness Education Group
The family of Thomas Levi Plotkin filed a lawsuit against the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a nonprofit organization that offers worldwide wilderness education. Plotkin, who was 20 years old, died while backpacking through the Himalaya's in India on an NOLS-sponsored trip.
Slip and Fall
Plotkin, who was part of a group that included four NOLS instructors and 15 students who had been split into groups of five, left on the 30-day backpacking tour on September 2, 2011, hiking about 41 miles up the valley along the Gori Ganga River in the first 19 days. On September 22, Plotkin refilled his backpack with food, and, at the time of the accident, it weighed about 60 pounds. It had been raining, and at about 5:15 p.m. he slipped on a wet rock. The heavy backpack pulled him backward and headfirst off the trail and down a steep incline. His fellow hikers claim that he did not respond when they called for him.
Failure to Notify Local Authorities
The students were not with the instructors, who were lagging behind them on the trail. Two students ran to inform the instructors what had happened, and the instructors attempted to rappel down the slope to rescue Plotkin. However, their ropes were too short to reach the river. At 6 p.m., the instructors notified the NOLS regional offices, but did not notify local authorities until 8 p.m.. The next day, a local team searched the area while NOLS employees rappelled to the river, finding Plotkin's headlamp 15 feet and his rain jacket three feet from the river. His body was never located. The lawsuit alleges that NOLS instructors failed to properly train students, assess the conditions or properly handle the emergency.
According to records, there have been 12 deaths during NOLS courses or expeditions since the company began in 1965, and one other wrongful death lawsuit filed. That lawsuit was dismissed, according to the company. There were no disciplinary actions against any NOLS employees related to Plotkin's death.
When the negligence of another person is suspected as the cause or a contributing factor in an accident that causes injury or death, a wrongful death claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an accident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by someone else's negligence.