Feeling the Heat – Kids Gym Did Not Cause Burn Injury to Grandmother (NY)

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Riccio v. Kid Fit, Inc. (New York)

It’s all fun and games until someone gets burned.  The plaintiff was attending her grandson’s birthday party at a kids gym facility.  She attempted to carry a chafing tray from a table to a nearby sink, and she was burned by the lit sterno cannister.  Plaintiff filed an action against the gym facility, and the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court.

Plaintiff appealed, but the decision was affirmed by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.  First, the Court disagreed with the defendant concerning the application of the doctrine of primary assumption of risk.  The Court explained that the doctrine did not apply because “the plaintiff was not involved in a sporting event or a recreational activity when she allegedly was injured.”  Nonetheless, the Court affirmed the decision based on causation.

The Court noted that “[a]lthough the issue of proximate cause is generally for the jury, liability may not be imposed upon a party who merely furnishes the condition or occasion for the occurrence of the event but is not one of its causes.”  The employees of the defendant had “inadvertently disposed of the caps to the sterno cannisters prior to the accident,” but that “merely furnished the occasion for the accident, and any alleged negligence by the defendant did not proximately cause the accident.”  In conclusion, “[t]he plaintiff’s actions in carrying the lit sterno cannister so close to her body superseded the defendants’ conduct and terminated the defendants’ liability for her injuries.”

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