ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The wife of a 65-year-old Anchorage man who disappeared while participating in the 2012 Mount Marathon extreme mountain race in Seward has sued the organization that hosts the yearly Independence Day event.
Peggy LeMaitre is seeking a $5 million settlement in her lawsuit against the Seward Chamber of Commerce, saying the organization showed outrageous conduct and was negligent in its duty of care toward her husband, Michael LeMaitre, and herself.
The lawsuit claims the breach of duty by the chamber was a “direct and proximate” cause of Michael LeMaitre’s death.
The lawsuit, which was filed last summer, also alleges that Peggy LeMaitre suffered emotional distress in the way she learned of her husband’s disappearance.
The Chamber of Commerce wants the lawsuit dismissed, saying in court documents that the circumstances of Michael LeMaitre’s “presumed death” have never been determined.
The case is scheduled for a jury trial in October, but the trial venue is in dispute. The chamber is opting for Seward and the plaintiff wants Anchorage.On Friday, no one answered a phone listed for Peggy LeMaitre’s attorney, W. Sherman Ernouf. A receptionist for chamber attorney Laura Eakes said the lawyer had no comment.
Michael LeMaitre was a rookie in the race on the 3,022-foot peak.
The race is marked by loose rocks on hard bedrock, shale slopes and stretches that get muddy and slippery when wet. LeMaitre was lagging behind in the race.
No trace of him was ever found, despite multiple searches by rescuers and LeMaitre’s family and friends. There are bears on the mountain but nothing was found to indicate a mauling.
Bruises and cuts and even broken bones are fairly common in the scramble up and down Mount Marathon during the race, which began in 1915.
LeMaitre’s disappearance led to significant rule changes that began in last year’s race. Runners now must meet time markers along the race or be disqualified.
Race rookies must familiarize themselves with the terrain before participating.