Sanctioning of Sporting Event by National Organization Does Not Equal Control

Oct 10, 2008

A New York state appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of all claims against USA Cycling, Inc., which had sanctioned, but did not organize or control, a road race during which the plaintiffs were injured when the pace vehicle veered off the course and into the crowd.
A local promoter organized the event, obtained sanctioning from USA Cycling and employed the driver of the pace vehicle, which was owned by the promoter.
In granting summary judgment and dismissing the complaint as against USA Cycling, Judge Alan Saks, sitting in Supreme Court, Bronx County, had found, inter alia, that: (1) as a sanctioning body, USA Cycling did not exercise sufficient control over the manner in which the event was conducted; (2) there was no proof that the race organizer was the agent of USA Cycling; and (3) the financial benefit derived from participant entrance fees and the imposition of an insurance surcharge by USA Cycling were not factors in determining the degree of control exercised by USA Cycling.
The Appellate Division held that since USA Cycling merely sanctioned the race and had no control over the race, it did not have a duty to prevent any negligence involved therein.
Moreover, the fact that USA Cycling provided its rulebook to the race organizer did not impose a duty upon USA Cycling to enforce any of the rules therein. Nor does the fact raise an inference as to the existence of a principle-agency relationship between USA Cycling and the race organizer.
Effectively, the Court held that merely sanctioning an event does not equate to control over the event sufficient to support a finding of liability.
Alejandro Chittick v. USA Cycling, Inc., et al.; Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, First Department; Index No. 20955/04; 9/23/08
Attorneys of Record: (for defendant) Steven H. Rosenfeld and Carmen A. Nicolaou of Havkins, Rosenfeld, Ritzert & Varriale, New York, New York


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