Court Swats Basketball Injury Claim (NY)

In sports and recreational activities, the assumption of risk doctrine covers any dangers and risks associated with the nature of the sport and participation within it.  Such assumed risks also include the construction of the playing field and any open and obvious conditions on it.

In Perez v New York City Dept. of Educ., the issue of assumed risk dealt with a condition in close proximity to the “playing field,” but not actually on or related to the basketball court itself.  Plaintiff was playing basketball in defendant’s gymnasium, when he jumped to block an opponent’s layup.  However, while doing so, plaintiff’s right arm  shattered the glass window pane of the gymnasium’s entrance door, which had no padding.  Plaintiff brought suit against the gymnasium owner, but the owner’s motion for summary judgment was granted by the trial court.

On appeal, the Second Appellate Department affirmed the trial court’s decision.  The Court held that the proximity of the door to the basketball court was an obvious and inherent risk for anyone playing basketball in that gym.  Further, plaintiff’s expert affidavit relied upon non-mandatory guidelines relating to door proximity and padding was insufficient to raise an issue of fact.  The Court also noted that lack of supervision was not a proximate cause as well, since the accident occurred suddenly.

Thanks to Jung Lee for his contribution to this post.  Please write to Mike Bono for more information.