Observing from the Sidelines Does not Create “Improper Supervision” Claim.

In Morales v. Longview Academy of Extreme Martial Arts, Inc., an 11 year old plaintiff was paired for training with a senior, older, heavier and taller student.  The plaintiff fractured his ankle when the senior student performed a round kick that plaintiff attempted to block.  At that moment, the instructor had been standing on the side of the judo mat, speaking with the plaintiff’s father while watching the class.  Plaintiff sued for improper supervision, and that there was a “mismatch” between the plaintiff and the more senior student.  The defendants moved for summary judgment, and submitted an affidavit of a judo expert who stated that in judo it is not against any accepted practice to pair an adult and minor student to engage in judo drills.  The court found that the affidavit demonstrated that the defendants were not negligent in pairing the students.  In addition, the court found that there was no lack of supervision since the instructor was observing the class while talking to the plaintiff’s father, and even had he been on the mat, it would not have prevented the injury that occurred in the normal course of training.  The court granted the defendants’ motion and held that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury while participating in a contact sport such as judo.

In improper supervision claims, the distance of the supervisor from the students is not the deciding factor, but whether the proximity to the students could have prevented the accident.

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