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Win Some, Lose Some: Assumption of Risk Defense Fails for Sports Complex Owners; Claims Against Dome Seller Dismissed

On February 2, 2015 by Schnader

A plaintiff bringing product liability and premises liability claims against multiple defendants in an effort to cover all bases often leads to different legal defenses among classes of co-defendants and a scattered offense by plaintiff’s counsel and plaintiff’s liability expert. A recent case out of New York’s Appellate Division (Third Department), Dann v. Family Sports Complex, Inc. (2014 NY Slip Op 08525 (3d Dep’t Dec. 4, 2014)), dealt with this multiplicity of claims and defenses. The case serves as a reminder that even though product liability defendants cannot normally utilize an assumption of risk defense, there are still other – and often more potent – viable defenses in the sports context. The Appellate Division affirmed for the product seller on a stand-by defense: plaintiff’s expert just didn’t come up with a viable theory. The premises defendants were not as lucky, getting their summary judgment win overturned because of issues of fact surrounding their assumption of risk defense.

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