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Court “Throws” Away Ultimate Frisbee Case (NY)

September 12, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In<em> <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Maida-v.-St.-Bonaventure-Univ.pdf">Maida v. St. Bonaventure Univ</a>.</em>, the Appellate Division punted on addressing the safeness and associated risks related to the sport of ultimate frisbee.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The plaintiff was a student at St. Bonaventure University.  While playing a game of ultimate frisbee (a non-contact sport akin to football, where points are scored by advancing a Frisbee to the end zone), the plaintiff jumped for the frisbee and collided with a crossbeam that was protruding from the wall of the gymnasium behind the end zone.  He filed a lawsuit alleging that the University was negligent in failing to maintain the gymnasium in a safe and proper manner, failing to correct or warn the plaintiff of the exposed crossbeam, failing to adequately supervise the plaintiff, and failing to properly train staff to supervise the plaintiff.  The University filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the ground that the case was barred by the doctrine of assumption of risk.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The plaintiff’s opposition argued that the University failed to establish that he was aware of the presence of the crossbeam and that a jury should decide if the University's failure to install protective padding on the crossbeam unreasonably increased the risk of injury.  The Supreme Court granted the University's motion and dismissed the case.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The plaintiff appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department asserting that the doctrine of primary assumption of risk does not apply because he was compelled to participate in the ultimate frisbee game by his coach, and he did not have the opportunity to assess the risks of playing.  However, the Appellate Division did not decide the appeal on the merits, but in effect allowed the case to remain dismissed by ruling that the plaintiff’s appeal invoking the inherent compulsion doctrine was raised too late, and was not properly before the Appellate Division Court.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">I guess we may never know if the ‘athletes’ playing the ‘sport’ of ultimate Frisbee should be aware of all the dangers associated with this ‘brutal’ sport.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to George Parpas for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:gcoats@wcmlaw.com">Georgia Coats</a> with any questions.</p>

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