Cheerleaders Assume Risk Of Injury

In Kristina D. v. Nesaquake Middle Sch., the Second Department reversed the lower court’s denial of defendants’ motion for summary judgment and dismissed plaintiff’s complaint. In doing so, the Second Department reaffirmed the long standing precedent that one cannot recover for injuries sustained in recreational activities, for those commonly appreciated risks inherent in the participation of the activity.

Plaintiff was an experienced middle school cheerleader, who was allegedly injured during cheerleading practice when she fell during the performance of a “shoulder stand,” a stunt she had performed many times in the past. Plaintiff sued the school district and cheerleading coach, alleging a failure to properly supervise the cheerleaders.

The complaint was ultimately dismissed despite the Second Department’s acknowledgement that even if the risk is assumed, a school must exercise ordinary reasonable care to protect student athletes voluntarily involved in extracurricular sports from “unassumed, concealed, or unreasonably increased risks.” In this instance, it was clear that plaintiff, an experienced cheerleader, assumed the risks involved in cheerleading and the performance of stunts. Moreover, the school made a prima facie showing that the plaintiff was adequately supervised.

Special thanks to Lora Gleicher for her contributions to this post.  For more information, please contact nbrown@wcmlaw.com.