Legal

How to Avoid Making a Racket over Racquets

July 14, 2011

Using Equipment Only for their Intended Use

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

I’ll bet that on occasion employees of your organization have had to warn a child or adult not to use sports equipment for things other than their intended use. Perhaps you’ve seen someone using a baseball bat to dislodge a basketball from a net; a weight bench to stand on in order to reach something; small weights to prop a door open; or a tennis racquet to kill a bug. Most of the time, using equipment for something other than what it was designed for does not cause any harm. However, a recent court case provides a good reason that sports and recreation equipment should only be used for what they were designed for.

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It’s Time to do a Flood Insurance Policy Check Up

July 14, 2011

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

Does your organization have flood insurance? If so, are the policy limits high enough to repair your damaged facility and replace damaged equipment? It seems that every time I turn on the news there is a story about flooding somewhere in the world. Those stories combined with the fact that I live on a koi pond, blocks from the ocean and on an island where hurricanes and tsunamis are a constant threat, led me to e-mail my insurance agent inquiring about the possibility of my purchasing flood insurance (I already had hurricane insurance). The agent replied with a quote and I responded accepting his offer. We met at my residence and I showed him the koi pond and wrote a check for the amount of the premium on October 11, 2008. I followed up in an e-mail less than one week later, asking that the agent confirm that my flood insurance coverage was bound. He responded by e-mail, assuring me that he submitted the application and explained that the policy through FEMA would take 30 days to be in effect. This was cause for celebration. While my neighbors worried about the constant threat of the pond flooding (as it had done in 2003), I felt confident that even if it flooded, any losses would be paid under my shiny, new flood insurance policy.

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One Strike and You’re Out: Lightning on the Playing Field

July 13, 2011

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

On September 1, 2009, the Associated Press headline, “Lightning Strike Causes Amputation”, referred to Danish soccer player Jonathan Richter’s unfortunate injury arising out of a brief thunder storm on July 20th while he was playing a reserve game. The 24 year old athlete had to undergo an induced coma for 10 days and then suffered the amputation of his lower left leg. This recent incident dramatically illustrates the danger that lightning strikes pose to athletes during practices and competitions held outdoors. The National Weather Service estimates that in the United States, the earth is struck by lightning approximately 25 million times per year. Considering this frequency, it is no wonder that in 2008, there were 28 deaths that resulted from lightning strikes.

The most recent reported appellate court decision regarding a lightning strike was probably that of Sall v. T’s, Inc., 136 P.3d 471 (Kan. 2006), which involved a golfer, through his parents, filing a lawsuit against a golf course for injuries sustained as a result of being struck by lightning on a golf course. The Kansas Supreme Court held that a golf course owed a duty of care to protect golfers from harm caused by lightning strikes on a golf course. The Court determined that there was a material issue of fact as to whether the golf course negligently performed the duty that it assumed to monitor the weather conditions and warn the golfers to come in off the golf course and so summary judgment was not appropriate. The Court noted that the golf course’s procedure was to do the following: 1) monitor weather through broadcasts on television, radio and Internet reports; 2) personnel went outside to visually inspect the weather; 3) golfers were warned by use of an air horn to come off the golf course during poor weather conditions; and 4) golfers were informed through signage what they should do in case of inclement weather.

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Current Legal Practices in Collegiate Club Sport Programs

May 12, 2011

Steve Kampf
Recreational Sports
Bowling Green State University

Scott Haines
Recreational Services
The College at Brockport, SUNY

Robert C. Schneider
The Department of Physical Education and Sport
The College at Brockport, SUNY

William F. Stier Jr.
The Department of Physical Education and Sport
The College at Brockport, SUNY

Brady Gaskins
Office of Residential Life
Bowling Green State University
Introduction
Legal liability practices within a college recreation program have long been an apprehension for the personnel who oversee programming. In particular, club sport activities have been a concern as to what the true legal liability benchmarks were in the field of college recreational sports. A review of current literature revealed a lack of benchmarking information relating to legal liability practices in collegiate club sport programs. Specifically, the information gained from this study provides programmatic direction in reviewing and proposing changes to policies and procedures relating to club sport safety.

A comprehensive research study was recently completed on the subject of legal liability that relates to club sports. Areas that were studied included the use of waivers, travel, coaching, first aid/CPR, and supervision. The following information serves as a reference point for those who oversee college club sport programs and could help in developing or reviewing policies and procedures.

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Getting Ahead of Head Injuries in Sports and Recreation

May 12, 2011

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

On March 18, 2009, headlines all over the world announced that actress Natasha Richardson died from a head injury she sustained from a fall on a Quebec ski slope. An autopsy revealed that she sustained an epidural hematoma, causing bleeding between the skull and the brain’s covering. Such bleeding from a skull fracture may quickly produce a blood clot which puts pressure on the brain, forcing the brain downward. This impacts the brain stem that controls vital functions, including breathing. Logically, if all of that is happening it should be obvious and immediate medical attention would be sought. That is not the case. It is common for people that suffer head injuries to feel fine initially as it takes some time before symptoms emerge. Dr. Keith Siller of New York University Langone Medical Center, when interviewed in relation to this tragedy explained that, “This is a very treatable condition if you’re aware of what the problem is and the patient is quickly transferred to a hospital.”

The news coverage about Natasha Richardson, generally reported that she was a beginning skier who declined to wear a helmet for her ski lesson. She felt fine after her fall and turned an ambulance away at approximately 1:00pm. She later developed a headache and medics returned at approximately 3:00pm. As her condition deteriorated, she was driven from a local hospital to a Montreal hospital, not arriving until approximately 7:00pm. There were no medivac helicopters or airplanes available.

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Risky Business: Abandoning Risk Management Practices in a Poor Economy

May 12, 2011

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

The newspaper headlines report daily on failing business, lost jobs, stock market plunges and government bailouts. It looks like this recession is here to stay for awhile at least, and so schools and recreational facilities are faced with decreased revenues and increased costs. Budgets are being prepared for 2009 and beyond with plans to slash unnecessary expenses and programs. Before an organization cuts its risk management budget and decreases insurance coverage in order to save on premiums, it is important to consider that declining economic conditions lead to increased incidences of insurance fraud. Accordingly, lawsuits increase during a bad economy as those that are injured seek compensation, exaggerating their injuries or placing blame on others when, in a good economy, they might have accepted the blame themselves.

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