Court: Facility Wasn’t Obligated To Have CPR Equipment On Hand

Dec 8, 2006

A New York State trial court has granted summary judgment to a basketball facility and the company that owns it, which was sued for negligence after a basketball player collapsed and died of a heart attack during a game at the facility.
The court held, specifically, that the defendants were not “required to maintain resuscitation equipment or a medically-trained staff during basketball games,” which was the basis of the plaintiff’s complaint.
The incident occurred on December 17, 2002 at the Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, a facility owned and operated by Basketball City New York LLC and Basketball City, U.S.A., LLC. After the player collapsed, several people involved with the league telephoned emergency services. While waiting for the paramedics, a few people at the facility attempted to revive the decedent. An ambulance subsequently arrived and transported him to the hospital, where attempts to resuscitate him there also failed.
Less than two years later, the plaintiff’s family sued, arguing that they are entitled to recover damages for defendants’ alleged negligence, “which caused the wrongful death of decedent.”
After discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that they are “not liable for decedent’s death because: (1) decedent assumed the risk inherent in playing basketball; (2) the alleged negligence did not proximately cause decedent’s death; (3) decedent’s death was unforeseeable.”
The plaintiff countered that the decedent “did not assume the risk of playing basketball under the relevant circumstances …,” claiming that the defendants “were under a duty to maintain, on the premises, emergency resuscitation equipment and a staff adequately trained in emergency medical care.”
In considering the defendant’s motion, the court wrote that “a plaintiff seeking damages for negligence must establish the existence of a duty owing to it from the defendants, and the breach of that duty causing injury to plaintiff (see Akins v Glens Falls City School Dist., 53 N.Y.2d 325, 333, 424 N.E.2d 531, 441 N.Y.S.2d 644 [1981]). Here, plaintiff has not demonstrated that a duty exists, and, consequently, plaintiff cannot establish a breach of a duty.
”Plaintiff’s argument is, in essence, that defendants breached a duty owed to decedent by failing to have proper equipment and medically trained personnel on the premises. However, the cases cited by plaintiff in opposition do not support plaintiff’s main assertion: that decedent could not have assumed the risks associated with playing basketball in the subject facility because defendants did not comply with their alleged duty to provide medical equipment and a medically-trained staff. Indeed, the appellate authority noted by plaintiff either concerns the scope of duty with respect to dangerous conditions or the scope of an athlete’s assumption of risk of dangers inherent in a sport (see e.g. Turcotte v Fell, 68 N.Y.2d 432, 502 N.E.2d 964, 510 N.Y.S.2d 49, [1986]; Marcano v City of New York, 296 A.D.2d 43, 743 N.Y.S.2d 456 [2002], revd 99 N.Y.2d 548, 784 N.E.2d 73, 754 N.Y.S.2d 200 [2002]; Owen v R.J.S. Safety Equipment, Inc., 79 N.Y.2d 967, 591 N.E.2d 1184, 582 N.Y.S.2d 998 [1992]; Morgan v State, 90 N.Y.2d 471, 685 N.E.2d 202, 662 N.Y.S.2d 421 [1997]).
”Here, in contrast, there is no allegation of a dangerous condition on the premises. Indeed, no part of the facility ‘caused’ decedent to suffer a cardiac arrest. Moreover, the question of whether decedent assumed a risk presumes the existence of a duty owed to decedent, which is not established. Lastly, General Business Law § 627-a (which imposes certain requirements on ‘health clubs’) is not relevant to this action as the effective date of the statute was more than two years after the accident took place.
”In sum, there is no authority for plaintiff’s position. Recreational and athletic facilities do in fact owe a general duty to participants (see e.g. Livshitz v U.S. Tennis Assn. Natl. Tennis Ctr., 196 Misc. 2d 460, 761 N.Y.S.2d 825 [Civ Ct, Queens County 2003]; Rutnik v Colonie Center Court Club Inc., 249 A.D.2d 873, 672 N.Y.S.2d 451, [1998]). However, there is no authority for the proposition that on the subject date, movants were required to maintain resuscitation equipment or a medically-trained staff during basketball games.”
Thus, the court granted summary judgment, dismissing the complaint.
Rose Colon, Individually and as Administratrix of Victor Hernandez, Jr., Deceased, v. Chelsea Piers Management, Inc., Basketball City New York LLC and Basketball City, U.S.A., LLC; S.Ct.N.Y., Kings Co.; 2006 NY Slip Op 51927U; 2006 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2831; 10/4/06


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