Archive for the ‘Increased Risks’ Category

Nothing to Make Light Of – Court Determines that Risk of Injury from Mislabeled, Heavy Box Assumed by Delivery Driver (CA)

January 13, 2016

Moore v. William Jessup University (California)

A UPS deliver driver was injured when he lifted a box that was shipped by the defendant university.  When it prepared the table for the box, the defendant inaccurately stated the weight of the box.  The driver filed a negligence action against the defendant, and the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment contending that the driver’s claim was barred by the primary assumption of risk doctrine.  The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, finding that the defendant did not owe the driver a duty of care with regard to the box, and the driver appealed the decision.

The California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court decision.  The driver argued that the defendant increased the risk of injury by mislabeling the box.  However, the Court held that “the risk of injury from lifting heavy boxes that may be labeled with inaccurate weight information was inherent in [defendant’s] job as a UPS delivery driver.”  UPS did not require customers to weigh their packages before labeling them, and customers were sometimes inaccurate in the identification of their weight.  In California, “Courts have held that, as a matter of public policy, it is unfair to impose a duty on a defendant to prevent an injury to a plaintiff arising from the very condition or hazard the defendant retained the plaintiff to confront.”

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(Un)Safe! – High School Softball Playing Injured During Sliding Drill; Triable Issues Regarding Increased Risks (NY)

August 31, 2015

Brown v. Roosevelt Union Free School District (New York)

A high school senior softball player was injured while participating in an infield sliding drill during softball practice on an elementary school field.  The team was practicing on the elementary school field because the high school field was being renovated.  The injured player’s mother filed a lawsuit on her behalf alleging that the coach increased the inherent risks of the softball by having her perform an infield sliding drill on a grass field.  The defendant school filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the claim was barred by the doctrine of primary assumption of risk.  Defendant asserted that under the law, the risks of an activity include risks associated with the construction of the playing surface and any open and obvious condition on it.  The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant appealed.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court decision.  The Court concluded that “the defendants failed to establish, prima facie, that the infant’s coach, by having her perform an infield sliding drill on the subject grass field, did not unreasonably increase the inherent risks of the activity.”  In that the defendant failed to meet its burden, the Court said it did not need to determine the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s opposition papers.

Deeply Depressed – Experienced Skier Claim Relating to “Depressions” in Snow Survives Court Motion (NY)

May 26, 2015

Paulus v. Holimont, Inc. (New York)

The sixty-right year old plaintiff was a self-described “accomplished” skier, who had been skiing since the age of 5.  Plaintiff had participated in various ski races throughout the years, and he had skied on different mountains throughout the world involving varying terrain, including ice and moguls.  Plaintiff drove from his home in Ohio to the defendant’s ski area in New York.  It was his second visit to the defendant’s resort.  On his first run of the day, plaintiff was coming down a trail at the facility called “Corkscrew” (a trail rated “more difficult” with a blue square), when he encountered difficult terrain and crashed, suffering injuries.  Plaintiff used racing skis and boots, and he admitted that he liked to ski fast.  He estimated that he was traveling twenty miles an hour at the time of the incident.  Plaintiff acknowledged that a “blaze orange caution sign was placed directly at the top of the portion of the Corkscrew trail where [he] was injured.”  However, the plaintiff testified that he did not believe he had observed the sign as he cut over to the Corkscrew trail from another trail (i.e., plaintiff believed he skied onto the Corkscrew trail below the caution sign).

Plaintiff (and his wife) sued the defendant for negligence, and the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that plaintiff’s claim should be barred by primary assumption of risk.  The trial court acknowledged that in New York “[d]ownhill skier ‘assume the inherent risks of personal injury caused by, among other things, terrain, weather conditions, ice, trees and manmade objects that are incidental to the provision or maintenance of a ski facility.'”  The doctrine is recognized in New York’s Safety in Skiing Code.  Additionally, “variations in terrain, including moguls, are recognized risks that are inherent in the sport of downhill skiing.”

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Quite a Show – Concussed Cheerleader Barred From Making Claim RE Failed High School Cheer Stunt (CA)

April 30, 2015

Baggay v. Linfield Christian School (California)
(not published)

A high school cheerleader suffered a concussion while performing a stunt during practice.  She filed a lawsuit against the school, asserting causes of action for (1) “negligence/recklessness,” (2) “false promise,” and (3) negligent misrepresentation.  The school filed a motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative summary adjudication, on the grounds that the claims were barred by the primary assumption of risk doctrine and that the plaintiff could not establish the essential elements of her false promise (promissory fraud) and misrepresentation claims.  The trial court granted the school’s motion, and the cheerleader appealed.

On appeal, the cheerleader argued that her claims were not barred by primary assumption of the risk “because a concussion is not an inherent risk of cheerleading,”  The Court of Appeals for California disagreed, stating that “‘[i]nherent risk’ does not refer to the type of injury that the plaintiff sustains or the manner in which the injury occurred, but rather the reason for the injury.” (Emphasis in the original.)  The Court continued, “An inherent risk is one that, if eliminated, would fundamentally alter the nature of the sport or deter vigorous participation.”  The plaintiff was injured because the group of cheerleaders failed to properly execute a stunt they had previously practiced and had previously successfully executed.  It is fundamental to the nature of modern cheerleading that teams will practice and perform stunts that involve the risk of injury.  Thus, “any type of injury that reasonably could be expected to result from such a fall is an inherent risk of modern cheerleading.” (Emphasis in the original.) (more…)

Blades of Gory – Hockey Locker Room Injury Inherent in the Sport (NY)

April 22, 2015

Litz v. Clinton Central School District (New York)

Plaintiff sustained an injury in the locker room following a high school hockey practice when a teammate still wearing skates stepped backward on the plaintiff’s bare foot.  Plaintiff filed an action against several defendants, including the school district, the head coach, and the assistant coach.  The school defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that the plaintiff had assumed the risks associated with the sport of hockey, and that the defendant did not owe a duty to protect the plaintiff from those risks.  The New York Supreme Court entered summary judgment for the defendants and dismissed the complaint, and plaintiff appealed.   (more…)

Untrained Warrior – High Schooler Injured in Self-Defense Course Gets Her Day in Court (NY)

April 19, 2015

Pierre v. Ramapo Central School District (New York)

A minor high school student was injured while competing as a participant in her school’s self-defense tournament, a voluntary competition open to female students who were enrolled in an elective self-defense class taught by a physical education teacher.  The student filed an action against the school district claiming that the class was actually a mixed martial arts class and alleging that the district was negligent in allowing the class to be instructed by (and the tournament to be refereed by) a person with little martial arts training.

The defendant school district filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the doctrine of primary assumption of risk barred the action and that any negligent supervision on its behalf was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.  The Supreme Court initially denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

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Coach of Youth Equestrian Rider Escapes Liability in Wrongful Death Case (CA)

March 11, 2015

Eriksson v. Nunnink (California)

In 2006, a 17-year old girl was killed while riding a horse in competition in California.  The parents of the decedent sued for wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress, alleging that the horse was “unfit to ride because of prior falls and lack of practice.”  After the plaintiffs presented evidence at trial, the trial court granted defendant’s motion for entry of judgment, which the plaintiffs appealed.  The Court of Appeal held that the minor waiver and release agreement signed by the decedent and her mother prior to decedent’s participation in the competition was enforceable as a liability defense to the wrongful death claim.  Although a minor can “disaffirm” a written contract, the terms of the waiver and release agreement became “irrevocable and binding” under California caselaw when the agreement was signed by the minor’s parent. (more…)

Encore – Triable Issues Regarding Fall From Concert Stage (CA)

March 11, 2015

Fazio v. Fairbanks (California)

In 2010, a musician fell off a stage and was injured while performing at a country club in San Diego, California.  He asserted a negligence against the country club, which filed a motion for summary judgment based on primary assumption of the risk (i.e., falling off a stage was an inherent risk for stage performers such that the club did not have a duty to protect the musician from that risk).  The trial court granted the club’s motion, and the musician appealed.  On appeal, the Court of Appeal confirmed that falling off a stage was an inherent risk for stage performers, but it reversed the trial court ruling, finding that a triable issue of material fact existed as to whether the condition of the stage (which included “significant gaps” along the sides due to its configuration) increased the risks and “posed a substantial risk of injury to the foreseeable user exercising due care.”

Pipe Dream for Expert in Motocross Case

May 12, 2011

McCassy v. Superior Court (California – UNPUBLISHED)
(Minor motocross rider injured during practice ride; with the rider unable to recall the incident, her expert speculates that irrigation piping near the track caused her to lose control; the court finds a lack of evidence to support the theory and grants defendant’s motion for summary judgment.)

A 17-year-old female motocross rider was at a motocross track practicing, and she was involved in an incident occurred in which she left the track and struck an embankment. The rider did not remember how the incident occurred, but alleged that she struck a portion of PVC pipe about 10 feet from the racing surface which was part of the track’s irrigation system, causing her to lose control of the motorcycle. She alleged premises liability, and her father and brother, both of whom were present, sued for infliction of emotional distress.

An expert for the plaintiffs asserted that the track increased the normal risk of injury by placing the PVC pipe close to the track and that if a rider lost control and left the track, there was a high probability of striking it. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment based upon primary assumption of the risk, noting that placement of the irrigation system so close to the track was not inherently required for the sport. The defendant petitioned for review, and the Court of Appeal granted the Petition.

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Injured High School Track Athlete Hurdles Summary Judgment

July 6, 2008

Morales v. Beacon City School District (New York)
(Inexperienced High School Track Athlete Injured During Practice After Coach Directed Him to Run Hurdles With Minimal Instruction; Court Denied School’s Summary Judgment Due to Triable Issue of Fact Regarding Increased Risks.)

The plaintiff was a high school track athlete who had minimal experience running hurdles. He claimed that the coach told him to run hurdles, but failed to give him adequate instruction, resulting in his personal injury. Additionally, the athlete contended the hurdle he fell over was not set up properly because the horizontal bar was uneven. The defendant school moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff had assumed the inherent risks of injury by participating in this sports activity. The court denied the motion and the school appealed

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