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Lack of Boundary or Lack of Claim (NY)

June 25, 2021

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In New York, a plaintiff commenced an action against a School District for alleged personal injuries sustained by her child while he was engaged in a drill during school basketball practice. In <em><a href="">Secky</a> v. New Paltz Central School District</em>, the New York Supreme Court denied defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The plaintiff’s child in <em>Secky</em> was participating in a basketball drill that did not use the boundary lines of the court. Accordingly, players continued to play even when the ball when out of bounds. Following a missed shot, the child went to retrieve a ball that had left the court. As the child approached the ball, around 2-4 feet from the retracted bleachers, he eased up and reached for the ball. While this was happening, a teammate  bumped the child from behind face first into the bleachers.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In New York, a person who voluntarily participates in a sport or recreational activity assumes the risks which are inherent in and arise out of the nature of the sport generally and flow from such participation. However, the Plaintiff argued that the inherent risks of participating in basketball were increased by the elimination of the boundary line during the drill.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On appeal, the Appellate Court concluded that the risks inherit in playing basketball were not increased by the removal of boundaries for the drill. The plaintiff provided an expert witness who claimed that the drill could have been safer by utilizing the boundary lines of the basketball court. The Appellate Court determined this assessment was insufficient to raise an issue of fact, especially because plaintiff’s expert had not proved that defendant violated a specific industry standard. As a result, the Appellate Court reversed the lower courts decision to deny the motion dismiss.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This matter confirms that a defendant should always ensure that they are following specific industry standards. Because the plaintiff in this case was unable to show that the school district had not violated industry standard, her case was dismissed.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Cory Maiorana for his contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.</p>

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