The Misinterpretation of Knight v. Jewett. Linda Sharp, University of Northern Colorado Peg Ciccolella, University of the Pacific. The Problem. Are California courts misinterpreting the important precedent of Knight v. Jewett in
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Linda Sharp, University of Northern Colorado
Peg Ciccolella, University of the Pacific
regard to the “no-duty” analysis in the sport/physical activity context?
No duty=primary assumption of risk for inherent risks of activity
What duty, if any, is owed to a coparticipant in an active sport?
Vigorous participation in such sporting events likely would be chilled if legal liability were to be imposed on a participant on the basis of his or her ordinary careless conduct
Does primary assumption of risk apply to a personal fitness trainer supervising exercise?
Negligence of personal trainer
To investigate P’s health history, current
condition, & cardiac risk factors.
Trainer’s failure caused the heart attack to occur
under his supervision.
Defense: Primary Assumption of Risk
Apply Doctrine if:
Imposing a duty in activities with inherent risks
changes its purpose . . .“alters” and “chills”.
1. nature of the activity.
2. role of D.
Fitness training is an activity.
Role of Trainer . . .challenge the student
beyond current fitness levels.
Trainer will not accurately assess fitness level.
Student will not be able to meet instructor’s
Various injuries, including a heart attack.
Could be interpreted as poor conditioning
rather than symptoms of MI.
Therefore, no duty to protect against heart attack during exercise.
Affirm MSJ for D.
What standard of care governs injuries occurring in a middle school golf class?
Primary assumption of risk apply? Limited duty?
Prudent Person Standard of Care?
P.E. class and hits P in the mouth.
surgery to repair disfigured face.
Nature of the activity?
A 7th grade golf class is instructional,
mandatory, and non-competitive.
Being hit in the head by a golf club is not an
inherent risk of the game.
Especially in a 7th grade class.
“Alter” or “Chill”?
Imposing upon golfers the obligation to look before swinging:
1. does not require a fundamental alteration
of the game.
2. does not discourage competition or
3. does not chill a coach or instructor’s role
to challenge students to hit further or
Do circumstances matter?
Conduct based upon “in the moment” decisions v.
Voluntary v. mandatory activities?
Special qualifications, e.g., “certified” trainer?
Organizational standards re conduct?
Reasonable care under the circumstances?
Christian v. Rowland