Archive for the ‘Stadium’ Category

Don’t Believe the Type – No Liability Coverage for Event Production Company Despite Contrary Insurance Certificate (LA)

August 4, 2015

Daniels v. SMG Crystal, LLC (Louisiana)

This case revolves around the 2005 Essence Festival held at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. An attendee of the event slipped and fell on an unknown substance at the Superdome, suffering personal injury.  She filed a lawsuit against government entities, the Superdome manager, the festival organizer, and a production company hired by the organizer to produce the festival.  The government entities and the Superdome manager filed cross-complaints against the festival organizer and the production company seeking defense and indemnity protection.  The organizer filed a cross complaint against the production company and its commercial general liability (“CGL”) insurer.  The insurer eventually filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that it did not owe a duty to defend or indemnify any of the parties under the CGL policy.  The District Court initially denied the motion, but later granted the insurer’s motion for a new trial and for summary judgment.  Appeals followed.  On appeal, the Court of Appeal of Louisiana vacated the District Court decision and remanded the matter.  On remand, the District Court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment against the injured attendee and the production company on the issue of insurance coverage, and it dismissed all the claims against the insurer.  The production company appealed again. (more…)

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Nice Save – Hockey Spectator Take a Puck in the Head; Team and Arena Not Liable (CT)

May 12, 2015

 

Lukacko v. Connecticut Islanders, LLC (Connecticut)

Plaintiff and his wife were spectators at an American Hockey League (“AHL”) game at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  At some point during the hockey match, a puck left the ice surface, traveled over the tempered glass barrier surrounding the rink, and struck plaintiff, causing a head laceration, scarring and emotional and physical distress.  Plaintiff filed a complaint against the hockey team and the arena operator alleging numerous counts of negligent conduct.

In response. the defendants claimed that the arena had typical protections for fans and patrons of the hockey game, including “plexiglass walls above the dasher boards surrounding the rink and netting placed at either end of the rink, in the most dangerous sections of the Arena in accordance with the approved standards of the [AHL].”  Plaintiff was not sitting at either end of the rink or behind the goals.  The defendants asked the Superior Court to adopt the “limited duty rule” (also referred to as the “baseball rule”), which is different from the general negligence standard.  Under the “limited duty rule,” once the defendant facility “has provided adequately screened seats for all those desiring them, the [facility] owner has fulfilled his duty of care as a matter of law.”  The Court explained that “[t]he limited duty rule holds that the stadium owner/operator is only responsible for screening the spectator seats in the most dangerous section of the field (in baseball, the area behind home plate).”

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Pit Road Penalty – Release Agreements Enforceable But Not to Bar Negligent Bleacher Maintenance Claim (NY)

May 4, 2015

Stevens v. Payne (NewYork)
(trial court opinion)

The plaintiff was injured while watching his daughter compete as a race care driver at a racetrack in New York.  Plaintiff suffered a heart attack and fell off of bleachers landing six feet below onto the ground, resulting in permanent paralysis of his legs.  He then sued the racetrack (Skyline Raceway) and the sprint car sanctioning entity (Capital Region Sprintcar Agency [“CRSA”]), alleging there was a dangerous condition on the bleachers because they lack side railing.  CRSA file a motion for summary judgment on tow grounds: (1) it did not owe a duty to plaintiff for the condition of the bleachers because it neither owned nor controlled them; and (2) the plaintiff’s cause of action was barred by the two waiver and release agreements signed by the plaintiff (one signed for the CRSA in connection with the race car entry, and one signed for Skyline at the event on the day of the incident).

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The Art of Recreation – University Not Permitted to Assert Recreational Use Statute Protection Against Spectator Claim (TX)

April 21, 2015

University of Texas at Arlington v. Sandra Williams (Texas)

The plaintiff and her husband attended their daughter’s soccer game played at the football stadium at the University of Texas at Arlington.  She leaned against a gate that separated the stands from the playing field, and the gate unexpectedly opened, causing her to fall five feel to the artificial turf below.  Plaintiff injured a rib and her left arm and sued the University for premises liability, alleging negligence and gross negligence.  As part of its responsive pleadings, the University filed a motion to dismiss claiming (among other things) liability protection under the Texas recreational use statute.

Texas’ recreational use statute (like many similar statutes in other jurisdictions) protects landowners who open property for recreational purposes, limiting their liability to the recreational user.  In such cases, the burden of proof is elevated, requiring either gross negligence or an intent to injure.  Ultimately, the Texas Supreme Court affirmed the decision of both the trial court and the court of appeals and determined that a spectator at a competitive sports event is not “recreation” under the statute such that the liability protection did not apply.

Injured Baseball Fan Cries Foul

July 6, 2008

Roberts v. Boys and Girls Republic (New York)
(Court Denies Recovery for Baseball Fan Struck by a Bat Accidentally Thrown by Batter in an Off-Field, On-Deck Circle.)

The plaintiff, was an observer at a baseball game as was struck by a bat accidentally thrown from the on-deck circle located just off of the playing field. The trial court granted the defendant baseball association’s motion, dismissing the case based upon the doctrine of assumption of the risk. The plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the Court affirmed the decision and noted that the plaintiff could not recover “because plaintiff concededly observed batting equipment and players swinging bats in the area where the accident occurred.”

NOTE: This decision is in line with the majority position that spectators at a baseball game assume the risk of balls and equipment flying into the stands from the field of play. There has been some minor erosion of this majority position in some jurisdictions (e.g., liability being established if a mascot was distracting the spectators during play), but the cases have been rather consistent in this area of the law.