Legal

Is Your Organization Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

November 21, 2011

Katharine M. Nohr, JD
Nohr Sports Risk Management, LLC

Japan is in the process of recovering from a horrendous 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a deadly tsunami. The west coast of the United States and Hawaii also sustained millions of dollars of damages because of the tsunami generated from the Japan earthquake, but such damage was far less than feared. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, mud slides, and fires are some of the natural disasters that occur in the world every year, costing lives, destroying property and ending viable businesses. Some of those businesses are sport and recreation facilities, Universities, colleges, and schools. Just as families have to prepare themselves in the event of disaster, so should those in the business of sport and recreation.

Does your organization have an up to date, detailed and practiced disaster plan? Is the plan designed to protect people, property and business continuity? Most likely, your organization has somewhat of a disaster plan, but it is missing elements and staff and volunteers may not be aware of its details. With recent catastrophic disasters in mind, it is a good time to establish a committee and employ a risk management consultant to update the plan.

Three objectives should be met in considering your organizations’ disaster plan:

  1. Protect People
  2. Protect Property
  3. Protect Business Continuity

The following are some of the considerations for meeting such goals.

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Nuts and Bolts Liability

November 21, 2011

How to Know When You Need to Call a Lawyer!

Shelley Timms, B.A., LL.B., LL.M.
Timshel Services Inc.
Alcohol Risk Management
Timshel@timshelservices.com

Liability issues are faced by everyone. It does seem that there are more lawsuits and more ways to be sued but some of the risks have not changed. For the Student Union Manager, there will always be students, some considered to be ‘children’ in the eyes of the law; there will always be those who want to take risks; and there will always be alcohol (and drugs).

The following is a primer on some of the basics to keep in mind when planning activities with the Student Union (SU) Board and running the Union.

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Required vs. Highly Recommended

November 21, 2011

Use of Safety Googles in Racket Sports

Roger Heimerman
Operations/Facility Manager
Campus Recreation
University of Massachusetts – Amherst

The establishment and review of protocol and verbiage is an integral part of the recreational sports professional’s responsibilities. Administration must ensure their facility and program policies are enforceable, reflect an emphasis on participant safety, protect the facility surfaces and equipment, and minimize legal liability.

Commonly used verbiage includes the following: not permitted, not allowed, prohibited, not responsible for, expected to, may not, required, and highly recommended. It is suggested to use these terms to best reflect the intent of the policy, promote a safe and customer friendly atmosphere and to transfer legal responsibility when applicable.

In developing policy, ‘Required’ vs. ‘Highly Recommended’ policies must be determined with care and based on the following considerations:

  •   # of staff
  •   Location of staff
  •   Staff supervision patterns
  •   Location of activity area
  •   Size of activity area
  •   Follow-through ability of staff in enforcement of selected policy
  •   Facilities vs. Programs
  •   Proper signage and/or written materials

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The Ball is in Your Court

October 12, 2011

Warning: Cell Phone Danger Ahead!

Katharine M. Nohr, Esq.
Nohr Sports Risk Management, LLC

Cell phones have presented risk management issues for facilities ever since cameras became a typical feature. The concern has been that cell phones will be used to take photographs of naked people in locker rooms—a violation of privacy. With the advent of Facebook and texting, this is a particular concern as pictures can be posted or texted in an instant. It’s possible that the person taking and distributing the picture might not be caught, but the facility in which the picture was taken surely could find itself on the wrong end of a lawsuit. Because of these concerns, almost any locker room of a facility with a risk management policy has signs posted, prohibiting cell phone use or cell phone visibility. These warning signs are not very effective if they are not being enforced. I-Phones and 4G’s are as addictive as crack, and so the mere posting of a few signs on locker room walls will surely not do much to pry them out of their owners’ hands. Does that mean that there should be cell phone monitors in every locker room? That is probably going too far. However, when people complain about continued cell phone use, action should be taken. Perhaps an employee or volunteer can regularly walk through the locker room (of his or her own gender) and check for violations. If facility users know that the facility enforces the rule, locker room cell phone use might diminish.
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The Scariest Four Letter Word in Campus Recreation: Part I

July 19, 2011

Matt Campbell, J.D.
Assistant Director, Campus Recreation
Marshall University

Acknowledging the most feared four letter word in Campus Recreation is the first step in understanding it : R-I-S-K.

Risk…there, it’s out in the open. And now that it has been acknowledged, perhaps we can move beyond the knee-jerk reaction and discuss how risk is controlled, or in legal terms, mitigated. Because as scary as risk may be, nothing is more terrifying than finding out your plan to control that risk is inadequate or outdated.

This article will explore why risk is such an ominous topic for recreation professionals, what the current standard is for mitigating risk in campus recreation, and where the legal decisions are trending with regard to mitigating risk.

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The Scariest Four Letter Word in Campus Recreation: Part II

July 19, 2011

Matt Campbell, J.D.
Assistant Director, Campus Recreation
Marshall University

In Part I of this article, we discussed the risk assessment tool developed by Peter Sandman dubbed the “Outrage Model.” In the Outrage Model, Sandman defines risk as hazard plus outrage. Applying this model to risk in campus recreation, we can assign hazard as the objective factor, such as the safety of a playing surface or wear and tear to equipment, and outrage as the subjective factor, such as the criticism and emotional reaction to these hazards. These criticisms and emotional reactions have lead to an increase in litigation and a paradigm change regarding assumption of risk. In Part I, a table showing which jurisdictions are likely to uphold a waiver or assumption of risk clause and which are not was produced. In this article we will outline how to move away from legal jargon and develop an effective, dynamic waiver document.

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