Supreme Court of Indiana Discusses Liability in Sports-Injury Cases

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Indiana issued a written opinion in a personal injury case brought by a woman who was injured when another student jump-kicked the bag she had volunteered to hold during karate practice. Ultimately, the court determined that, because jump kicks are an ordinary within the sport of karate, the defendant did not breach the duty he owed to the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a black-belt at a karate studio. During a practice session, she volunteered to hold the bag during a drill called “kick the bag.” She stood behind the bag and placed one foot in front of the other to brace herself, as she had done many times in the past. The drill consisted of sprinting towards the bag, and then kicking the bag with one foot, keeping the other foot on the ground.

The defendant was newer to the practice of karate, and had only obtained his green belt. When it was the defendant’s turn, he ran towards the bag but rather than keep one foot on the floor, both feet left the ground. The force from the defendant’s “jump kick” was so great that it knocked the plaintiff down, resulting in her injuring her knee.

The plaintiff sued the defendant, claiming that he “negligently, recklessly and unreasonably” injured her. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, but that ruling was reversed on appeal. The defendant then appealed to the Supreme Court of Indiana.

The Court’s Analysis

The court ultimately affirmed the dismissal of the case against the defendant, finding that jump-kicks are ordinary in the practice of karate. In making its determination, the court looked to a previously decided case where the court held that a defendant does not breach the duty owed to another when he acts “within the range of ordinary behavior of participants in the sport.” That case involved a beverage-cart employee who was hit by an errant golf ball.

In both cases, the court looked to the reasonableness of the defendant’s conduct when taken in the context of the sport that is being played. Here, the court explained that the defendant’s jump-kick may have shown “poor technique or faulty execution,” but it was ordinary within the sport of karate. Importantly, the court also noted that there was no evidence whatsoever indicating that the defendant acted with an intent to cause harm.

Have You Been Injured While Playing Sports?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while engaging in any kind of sport activity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The rule discussed above only applies in limited situations, and is applied on a case-by-case basis. There may also be multiple parties who can be named in a sports-injury case. To learn more, and to speak with a dedicated Indiana personal injury attorney about your case, call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation.

Related Posts:

Student’s Slip-and-Fall Accident on Patch of Ice Was the Result of an “Obvious and Natural” Condition, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, March 6, 2017

Court Finds Plaintiff’s “Mere Speculation” in Premises Liability Case Insufficient to Survive Summary Judgment Challenge, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, February 22, 2017

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