Archive for the ‘Gymnastics’ Category

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

June 1, 2015

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  In conclusion, “[t]he plaintiff’s actions in carrying the lit sterno cannister so close to her body superseded the defendants’ conduct and terminated the defendants’ liability for her injuries.”

Unfortunate Landing

September 6, 2012

Duchesneau v. Cornell University (Pennsylvania Court – New York Law Applied)
(An amateur gymnast suffered a significant injury while attempting a backflip on a rebounding Tumbl Trak apparatus; he sued the manufacturer of the apparatus for a failure to warn of the dangers associated with its use, and he sought punitive damages; the court denied the manufacturer’s motion, allowing the case to proceed to the jury.)

In its motion, the defendant manufacturer alleged (1) plaintiff could not establish a prima facie case of failure to warn; (2) plaintiff was not entitled to punitive damages; and (3) plaintiff assumed the risk of injury when using the apparatus.  In support of its arguments, the manufacturer referred to “general knowledge” that “an individual might land on his head if he attempt[ed] a black flip on a rebounding [apparatus].”  Defendant also referred to plaintiff’s education in basic physics, the fact that he signed a waiver that stated that he understood the risks and dangers associated with gymnastics, the existence of a small warning label on the apparatus that warned of the potential for catastrophic injury (including paralysis or even death from falling on the head or neck), and plaintiff’s knowledge of the concept of spotting from his prior participation in cheerleading.  Viewing all of that evidence, defendant asserted that “‘common sense’ would have informed an individual that he or she was risking landing on their head by using the [apparatus], and, as such, [defendant] had no legal duty to warn Plaintiff.”

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