New York Personal Injury Law Blog » Personal Injury


August 27th, 2007

Court: Assumption of Risk May Not Apply To Gym Class Injury

Sometimes the issue of “assumption of risk” is easy. A person voluntarily does something with a bit of danger and gets hurt. The photo at right is an example. The official legalese, however, looks like this:

The doctrine of assumption of risk is a form of measurement of a defendant’s duty to a voluntary participant in a sporting activity. The voluntary participant is deemed to have consented to apparent or reasonably foreseeable consequences of engaging in the sport.

But a gym class is different than the outside world, according to New York’s Appellate Division, Second Department, where there is a significant disparity between the learned instructors and the neophyte students, as well as the “persuasion” that may be used to “force” a student to complete a task.

In Calouri v. County of Suffolk, a 40 year old woman suffered a broken leg during a team activity in which she had to clear a rope strung between two chairs without touching it. After several failures (she was not only the oldest, but the shortest student in the class) she stepped onto the knee of a teammate as a makeshift step, who wobbled, and she fell.

Under these circumstances, the court refused to have the case dismissed on summary judgment and ordered it to go to the jury.

(Photo credit: Me)

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