Ice Rink Owner Slips Up (NY)
In Andriienko v Compass Group USA Inc. an ice skating collision spurred litigation involving the scope of the inherent risk in the “sport” of ice skating.
The plaintiff, an experienced ice skater, sued the owners and operators of an ice skating rink for injuries she sustained when an unruly skater pushed her down on the ice. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that collisions between skaters is a common occurrence and an inherent risk in ice skating. The lower granted the motion finding that the plaintiff assumed the risks inherent in skating.
The Second Department Appellate Division reversed the decision. The Court held that voluntary participants in a sport or recreational activity “may be held to have consented, by their participation, to those injury-causing events which are known, apparent or reasonably foreseeable consequences of the participation.” However, they noted that, although collisions between skaters are a common occurrence and are an inherent risk in the sport of ice skating, the ice skaters “do not consent to acts which are reckless or intentional” or to any “unassumed, concealed or unreasonably increased risks.”
The Appellate Division further held that there was evidence that the “unruly skater” had previously caused other skaters to fall, making his conduct reckless and intentional. As a result, the Court noted that this was not a case involving inherent risk but one involving negligent supervision on the part of the rink owner.
The takeaway: a sporting facility maintains the obligation to adequately supervise its athletes (yes, figure skaters are athletes).
Thanks to George Parpas for his contribution to this post. Please email Georgia Coats with any questions.