Recently, the Second Department dismissed a plaintiff's claim for personal injuries sustained while playing basketball at school. <em>See</em>, WCM Blawg, Of Interest, “<a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/2016/03/court-swats-away-basketball-injury-claims-due-to-assumption-of-risk-ny/">Court Swats Away Basketball Injury Claims Under Assumption of Risk Doctrine</a>” March 3, 2016.
Just a week later, the First Department ruled similarly in <em><a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Blumenthal-v.-Bronx-Equestrian-Ctr..pdf" rel="">Blumenthal v. Bronx Equestrian Ctr.</a>,</em> and reversed a Supreme Court, Bronx County, decision which denied summary judgment to the defendants.
In <em>Blumenthal,</em> plaintiff was thrown from a horse during a recreational ride at the defendant park owned by The City of New York, and through a stable operated by the Bronx Equestrian Center. The defendants moved for summary judgment based on the assumption of risk doctrine.
The Court found that “[t]here is no evidence that defendant stable was reckless, nor were there any concealed or unreasonably increased risks.” <u>Id.</u> Furthermore, the Court found that “[t]he risk of a horse acting in an unintended manner resulting in the rider being thrown is a risk inherent in the sport or horseback riding”. <u>Id. </u>
The Court then addressed the claims against the City of New York which were based in premises liability. Plaintiff claimed that there were defects in the birdle path on which she was riding that contributed to the accident. The Court found that the City did not owe plaintiff a duty of care as the agreement between the City and the defendant stable placed that duty onto the stable. Finally, the Court found that there is no provisions of the agreement between the defendant City and the defendant stable that would allow plaintiff to be a third-party beneficiary to the terms of the contract.
This decision shows that the assumption of risk defense will release a landowner or facilities operator from liability for any injury resulting from a voluntary recreational activity, despite (unsubstantiated) claims that defective conditions contributed to the incident. Thanks to Dana Purcaro for her contribution to this post. Please email <a href="mailto:BGibbons@wmlaw.com">Brian Gibbons</a> with any questions.