View Full Version : Legal liability

Joseph Svinth
1st June 2002, 03:00
This link, http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/iclp/safety.htm , sends you to an article about legal liability in schools, grades K-12. There is material here that sounds relevant to people who run dojo. To wit:


b. The Dailey Case: Negligence in Failing to Provide Adequate Supervision

On a public high school campus during lunchtime, sixteen-year-old Michael Dailey and one of his friends began a slap-boxing match. A crowd soon gathered around and urged the two boys on. All the evidence indicated, however, that this slap-boxing was simply good-natured horseplay, nothing more than an apparently harmless activity which high school boys might be likely to engage in after finishing lunch.

Suddenly, after being slapped, Michael fell backwards, fracturing his skull on the asphalt paving. He died that night.

The Dailey family sued the school district, seeking to establish that defendant's negligence in failing to provide adequate supervision was the cause of Michael's death. The court found that the school had a lunchtime supervision plan, but that the coach who was supposed to supervise the area where the slap-boxing had taken place was in his office at the time, talking on the phone.

"From this evidence," the court declared, "a jury could reasonably conclude that those employees of the defendant school district who were charged with the responsibility of providing supervision failed to exercise due care in the performance of this duty and their negligence was the proximate cause of the tragedy which took Michael's life."


I've heard of schools where the chief instructor leaves juveniles in charge while said instructor leaves the room for extended periods. If this is you, it sounds as if you're living dangerously.

Don Cunningham
1st June 2002, 16:51
I'm not a lawyer and don't pretend to offer legal advice. However, I was once told that even the best-worded liability waiver, signed and notarized, does not excuse negligence. Therefore, if the instructor is negligent and someone gets hurt as a result, said instructor can still be successfully sued for damages.

Now stupidity is another matter. I wonder if someone lets another person kick them in the groin as part of training, for example, and ends up seriously injured, do they have a valid complaint? Or would the court consider their stupidity as a mitigating factor? Can you be liable for taking advantage of the gullible?

Joseph Svinth
1st June 2002, 22:14
Not being a lawyer, I don't know. Nonetheless, from what I've read, the usual standard is "reasonable and prudent." It probably wouldn't be hard to find expert witnesses willing to testify that volunteering for kicks to the groin is neither reasonable nor prudent, and therefore I would guess that in this case, stupidity could be used to mitigate the kicker's civil liability.

On the other hand, were someone to die from the blow, then the DA's case for negligent homicide/manslaughter would be reasonable. After all, just because someone says, "Hit me in the head with a hammer," doesn't mean that you should do it.

Joseph Svinth
1st June 2002, 22:27
In further response to Don's query, part of the question of promoter's liability involves what kind of emergency medical care is available on scene. For what a ringside physician believes reasonable and prudent at the scene of a professional boxing match, see http://www.aaprp.org/NYA-Statement . If all of these personnel and all of this equipment is on hand, then my guess is that the promoter's civil liability is minimal. (He knew there was risk, he took reasonable and prudent precautions, and the presence of an ambulance, a doctor, and a couple EMTs should have given the participants a clue that there was some danger inherent in the activiites.) However, if the only on-site health care provider is some guy with a Red Cross card, and the sole medical equipment is a box of bandaids and a telephone, then my guess is that liability is significantly increased.

Don Cunningham
2nd June 2002, 15:02
Just to add to the above, it is not only the availability of medical personnel and equipment, but the use of such as well. For example, the recent Discovery Channel documentary with a segment on Combat Ki showed a woman clearly knocked unconcious and then stood up for another blow. In my opinion, the person in charge was irresponsible for not having insisted the woman be examined first for any potential medical problems before proceeding.

If this woman had sustained serious head trauma, I think the person who decided to continue without an adequate examination showed clear negligence and would be liable if the woman filed a complaint. After reviewing her website, I'm not too sure she wasn't brain damaged by this test. It certainly appears like she has been hit in the head a few too many times. :D That would explain a lot about the content of her web site and her statements, not to mention her willingness to be beaten and physically abused on national television.