Sports Litigation Case Law Update March 2015 Part 2 of 2

As mentioned in part 1 of this months sports litigation case law update here we visit a hockey locker room in upstate New York, and go back to Texas for a youth baseball field.

High School Hockey Player Assumed the Risk of Being Stepped On By a Skate in the Locker Room

Litz v. Clinton Central Sch. Dist., 2015 WL 1270085 (4th Dept., March 20, 2015)

Plaintiff high school hockey player was walking barefoot in the locker room when his teammate, who still had his skates on, stepped backwards and accidentally stepped on plaintiff’s foot.  New York’s Appellate Division, Fourth Department affirmed summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s action against the defendant school district, hockey coaches, and teammate, applying well-established New York case law regarding the assumption of the risk doctrine in the sports context.  The Court held that “the risk of being injured by a skate blade is inherent in the sport of hockey and that plaintiff was aware of, appreciated the nature of, and voluntarily assumed that risk” and that “that being injured by a wayward blade in the locker room before, during, or immediately after a game or practice is within the known, apparent and foreseeable dangers of the sport of hockey” (internal quotation marks omitted).

Texas Court Dismisses Defamation, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Conspiracy, and Aiding and Abetting Claims Brought by the Assistant Coach of a 7-Year Old Baseball Team Against the Head Coach and Association President 

Bilbry and Hall v. Williams, 2015 WL 1120921 (TX Ct. of App., March 12, 2015)

The electronic version of this opinion is 14 pages long for a lawsuit stemming from a baseball team for 7-year olds.  The assistant coach of the team filed a lawsuit asserting claims against the team’s head coach for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, a conspiracy claim against both the head coach and the president of the association overseeing the team, and a claim against the association president for aiding and abetting.  Plaintiff’s claims arose out of reports that were made by concerned parents about the plaintiff’s “conduct as third base coach during a baseball game comprised of 7-year old boys with 13-14 year old umpires.”  The defendants moved to dismiss under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA).  The trial court denied the motion, but the Texas Court of Appeals reversed in favor of the defendants.  The Court held that “[the assistant coach’s] suit is based on statements [the head coach] made [about the assistant coach] on a matter involving the well-being and safety of children in the community, that the statements were therefore on matters of public concern, and that the suit therefore is based on and arises out of the right of free speech as defined by the TCPA.”

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