For example in wrestling, there is an inherent risk of a torn muscle. In rock climbing, there is an inherent risk of a fall. Some of these risks cannot be eliminated without altering the very nature of the activity.
However, that does not mean there is never liability established when injuries occur during sports or recreational activities. Sometimes, it comes down to whether the risk was inherent. Other times, it comes down to whether the facility/entity owed a duty of care to the person injured. In other cases, it’s a matter of whether the facility/ entity knew or should have known there was a danger.
A recent case out of New York illustrated these principles.
In Lik v. L.A. Fitness, plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit after he suffered an injury while playing a game of basketball at defendant’s gym. Plaintiff alleged he suffered a knee injury after falling on a floorboard that was defective. His lawsuit was filed with the Nassau County Supreme Court.
Defendant responded to the complaint with two legal theories. First, the defendant argued that plaintiff was participating in a sporting activity that involved inherent risks, which plaintiff assumed by engaging in that activity. One of those risks, defendant argued, was falling to the ground. Therefore, plaintiff’s injury wasn’t caused by any negligence on the part of defendant, but rather because of that inherent risk. Secondly, defendant argued plaintiff had failed to present enough evidence that a defect in the floor even existed. However, if a defect did exist, defendant argued, there was no evidence defendant had the required notice – actual or constructive – before this happened. That is, in a premises liability lawsuit like this, plaintiff has to show not only was there a dangerous condition, but that defendant knew or should have known about it. Defense argued it conducted regular premises checks, and there had been no indication the floorboard where plaintiff fell was defective.
Based on all this, defendant moved for summary judgment.
Plaintiff countered this shouldn’t be granted because defendant had not shown it was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law based on the “assumption of risk doctrine” because he wasn’t arguing the gym was responsible for his fall. Rather, he was arguing the gym was responsible to the injury to his knee caused by the defective floorboard – which is not an inherent risk assumed when playing basketball.
Aside from that, plaintiff argued defendant hadn’t proven there was no factual dispute regarding the actual/ constructive notice element. Specifically, defendant stated the court had been inspected, but there was no documented proof as to when or how often or what aspects of the court those inspections examined.
The judge separated the arguments into two separate issues: The actual/ constructive notice issue and the assumption of risk.
With regard to the assumption of risk, the court ruled it’s a question of fact whether conditions caused by the gym’s alleged negligence are unique or whether there was a danger over and above what would normally be expected in the game. Secondly, with regard to notice, the court pointed out there was no testimony from an employee regarding the reported prior inspections, and neither was any document submitted.
Therefore, the judge declined to grant summary judgment to defendant and set the next court date for this month.
If you have been a victim of a Florida personal injury, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Lik v. L.A. Fitness, May 5, 2016, Nassau County Supreme Court
More Blog Entries:
Reducing Brain Injuries in Children Goal of Pop Warner Nixing Kickoffs, May 17, 2016, Florida Premises Liability Lawyer Blog