Archive for the ‘Employee’ Category

Ejected – Claim of Youth Group Employee Thrown from Golf Cart at Fundraising Event Barred by Assumption of Risk (NY)

October 23, 2015

Valverde v. Great Expectations, LLC (New York)

An employee of a youth group was injured during a fund raising event at a golf course.  The employee was being driven in a golf cart by a 17-year-old participant in the event.  The participant tried to make a sharp turn into a parking lot and the employee flew out of the cart.  The employee filed a lawsuit against the participant, and the participant filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the employee’s claims were barred by the doctrine of assumption of risk.  The trial court denied the participant’s motion, and he appealed.

On appeal, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court reversed the decision and entered judgment in favor of the participant.  The Court noted that in the context of a sporting or recreational event, not only do the participants consent to the risks inherent in the sport or event, but a “nonparticipant may also be subject to a defense based on the doctrine of assumed risk.”  The Court held that the employee knowingly and voluntarily rode in the gold cart during the golf tournament in which she was assigned to monitor one of the holes.  Even though the employee did not know the participant did not have a driver’s license, “she knew that he was a minor yet made no attempt to determine whether he had a license or whether he should be operating a golf cart.”  The Court further noted that it did not render the assumption of the risk doctrine inapplicable simply because the employee was not actively performing her duties of minoring the hole at the time of the incident.  The incident “occurred in a designated athletic or recreational venue.”

Finally, the employee argued that she was under an “inherent compulsion” to assume the risk, but the Court stated there was no evidence to support the claim.

 

Monkey Business

August 31, 2012

Howard v. Chimps, Inc. (Oregon)
(An intern at a chimpanzee sanctuary was injured when she was attacked by a chimpanzee;  she sued the sanctuary but the court dismissed her negligence and strict liability claims in light of the intern manual that she read and signed that included a waiver and release agreement;  the court also determined that there was no reasonable evidence of gross negligence.)

An intern at a chimpanzee sanctuary was injured just ten days after her start date.  A chimpanzee attacked her while she was cleaning a cage, and she brought an action against the sanctuary for negligence and strict liability.  Plaintiff thereafter moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that the waiver and release she signed was not enforceable.  The trial court denied that motion and later granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment finding that the waiver and release precluded the plaintiff’s claims.  Plaintiff then appealed.

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What a Show

August 15, 2012

Metsker v. Carefree/Scott Fetzer Company (Florida)
(A guest at a recreational vehicle [“RV”] trade show was struck by a pole in a booth for the manufacturer of RV awnings, and he sued both the manufacture and the RV trade association;  the trial court granted the manufacturer’s summary judgment motion by the Court of Appeal reversed finding triable issues of fact.)

The show in question featured displays of RV vehicles and related accessories and services. The plaintiff paid a fee to enter the show.  While he was seated in the defendant manufacturer’s booth a metal pole fell and struck him.  After plaintiff filed his complaint, the manufacturer filed its motion for summary judgment claiming that while it had rented the booth for display, it “did not construct, control, or operate” the booth.  Rather, it had independently contracted with a third party for those booth services.  As such, the manufacturer claimed it did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care.  The trial court agreed, granting the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the Court explained that with regard to premises liability, “the issue of whether a party has a duty of care does not depend on ownership or title to the premises.  Instead, the appropriate inquiry is whether the party has the ability to exercise control over the premises.”  The Court further noted that “[t]wo or more parties may share control over land or business premises,” and as a result, liability “may rest upon more than one party.”

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