Sunday, June 26, 2011

Assumption of Risk Doctrine

             A recent Appellate Division, Second Department court decision highlights the "assumption of risk" doctrine as it applies in negligence cases.  In Reidy v. Raman, 2011 NY Slip Op 5251 (2d Dept.), the plaintiff injured her ankle when she slid down an inflatable slide owned by the defendant One Stop Party Rental, Inc., and set up at an event sponsored by the defendant Lindenhurst Sport Club, Inc.  The plaintiff ultimately lost her case because of the application of the “assumption of risk” doctrine.

            The Court stated the following: “a plaintiff is barred from recovery for injuries which occur during voluntary sporting or recreational activities if it is determined that he or she assumed the risk as a matter of law.  A voluntary participant in a recreational activity consents to those commonly-appreciated risks which are inherent in and arise out of the nature of such activity generally, and which flow from the participation.  Athletic and recreative activities possess enormous social value, even while they involve significantly heightened risks…these risks may be voluntarily assumed to preserve these beneficial pursuits as against the prohibitive liability to which they would otherwise give rise.”  Additionally, the Court held that the affidavit the plaintiff’s expert provided (in an attempt to counter the assumption of risk defense) was insufficient because he was not qualified to render an opinion as to the condition of the inflatable slide, and because his conclusions were speculative.

Salvatore R. Marino, Esq.

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