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Due to his Assumption of Risk, Wrestler’s claims dismissed.

March 27, 2014 • Posted By Joseph A. French • Complex Litigation

Late last fall, the Second Department properly reversed a lower court’s decision, and dismissed a teenage wrestler’s personal injury claims.

During a high school wrestling match, the infant plaintiff was injured.  The plaintiff claimed that a referee’s negligence was the proximate cause of the injury.  “Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the referee failed to stop the match when the wrestlers entered into a potentially dangerous position, even though the referee had previously stopped the match under the same circumstances.”

The court cited approvingly dicta from the Court of Appeals. “[B]y engaging in a sport or recreational activity, a participant consents to those commonly appreciated risks which are inherent in and arise out of the nature of the sport generally and flow from such participation”,  See Trupia v. Lake George Cent. School Dist. 14 NY3d 392, 395.  In assessing whether a defendant has violated a duty of care in the context of an injury sustained during a sport or game, the court must determine whether the defendant created a unique condition “over and above the usual dangers that are inherent in the sport”.

While he voluntarily participated in wrestling, plaintiff assumed the risk of injury by “consenting to the commonly appreciated risks” inherent in the sport.  The court’s decision also appeared to be influenced by the evidence that established that the wrestling position at issue was only considered potentially dangerous for the injured plaintiff’s opponent, not for the injured plaintiff, and, therefore, the referee’s failure to stop the match did not unreasonably increase the injured plaintiff’s risk of injury.

We believe that by following respected assumption of risk decisions, buttressed by its dicta concerning the wrestling position at issue, the Court’s reversal was sound.