Legal

Good Swimmers Don’t Drown

May 12, 2011

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

Multiple athlete drownings in triathlons have recently puzzled the multi-sport community. In July of 2008, a 60 year old male and a 52 year old male drowned in two different triathlons on the same weekend. A 32 year old male died during the swim of the New York City Triathlon the previous weekend.

Why do well-conditioned athletes die during the swim portion of the three discipline event, rather than during the more hazardous cycling portion or when they are more fatigued on the run? As aquatics safety expert Tom Griffiths has said, “good swimmers don’t really drown—they die of other specific causes, known as ‘drowning triggers,’ that predispose them to death in the water.” The trigger that commonly causes these mysterious drowning deaths is Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome and Romano-Ward syndrome, which cause their sufferers to develop a sudden abnormal heart rhythm as a response to exercise or stress. These abnormalities can occur for no known reason in people who have “long QT” syndrome (“LQTS”), which refers to an interval seen on an EKG (electrocardiogram). Not everyone who has LQTS will develop a dangerous heart rhythm. However, when this does happen, it can be fatal.

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RISK MANAGEMENT IN INTRAMURAL SPORTS

May 12, 2011

RISK MANAGEMENT IN INTRAMURAL SPORTS

Matt Campbell
J.D. Candidate ‘08
DePaul University College of Law

‘No school ID, no play.’ ‘No jewelry.’ ‘Sign the waiver.’
‘Fill out an incident report for any injuries or altercations.’

Every campus recreation professional recites these intramural mantras at student staff training, but is there an understanding as to why these rules are in place?

This article seeks to help intramural professionals provide their student staff with answers as to why recreational programs must maintain rigorous policies. It will also identify risk management concerns in intramural sports in order to eliminate unnecessary risks and mitigate those which are unavoidable.

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Is Cheerleading a Physical Contact Recreational Activity?

April 28, 2011

A Wisconsin Court Answers this Question

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

You may have heard about the appellate decision that was issued on January 27, 2009, Noffke v. Bakke, 2009 WL 173491 (Wis.), in which the Supreme Court of Wisconsin addressed the question of whether cheerleading involves physical contact under a Wisconsin statute. The following summary provides the key facts and legal analysis so that you will know how this case fits into your own risk management planning.

Brittany Noffke, a high school varsity basketball cheerleader, fell backward, striking her head on a tile floor while practicing a cheerleading stunt without protective mats. Noffke was the “flyer” in the stunt, which required her to stand on the shoulders of other cheerleaders who formed the “base” for the stunt. Kevin Bakke, another cheerleader had the position of “post”, which assists the flyer in getting into position on the base, initially supporting most of the flyer’s weight so that her feet may be secured on the base’s shoulders, and also served as a spotter. Noffke was injured when Bakke let go of her without moving to the front to prevent her from falling. The cheerleading coach was busy supervising another group of cheerleaders and so was not there to assist in preventing Noffke’s fall.

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The Basics of Alcohol Liability: Part I

April 10, 2011

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

Editor’s Note: While the Case Law is Canadian based, readers may find this article of interest — the concepts of ‘special relationships’ and ‘foreseeability’ apply everywhere.

Alcohol liability, as we know it, is a fairly recent legal construct. The first case that proceeded to the Supreme Court of Canada was just 37 years ago. Until that time, there were fewer automobiles on the road (and therefore fewer impaired driving crashes), less disposable income and therefore less to spend on excessive alcohol consumption, and specifically, stricter rules in the university environment as well as a higher drinking age. That isn’t to say there weren’t alcohol related legal cases, but they were far fewer than in the late 1970’s to present day.

Initially, alcohol related cases were referred to as ‘commercial host cases’ since commercial hosts (those who sell alcohol) were the only ones being successfully sued. With time, more and more ‘hosts’ were added to the list, creating what is now known as host liability or alcohol liability.

This article is Part I of ‘The Basics of Alcohol Liability’, and will focus on two key elements of alcohol liability — “special relationship” and “foreseeability”. In the next issue of the Newsletter, Part II will look at more specific components of alcohol liability such as security obligations, innocent third parties, the youth factor, as well as “beyond commercial hosts”.

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The Basic of Alcohol Liability — Part II

April 10, 2011

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

Part I of the The Basics of Alcohol Liability covered two fundamentals of alcohol liability — special relationship and foreseeability. Part II will review security obligations, innocent third parties, the youth factor and “beyond commercial hosts”.

Security Obligations
Every licencee is obliged to insure that patrons or guests of the establishment are in a safe environment. Occupiers’ liability, which is found in every province either in legislation form or in common law, provides that the occupier must provide premises that are safe – regarding the actual premises, the condition of the guests and the nature of the activity being conducted on the premises.

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The Muskoka Tragedy

April 10, 2011

(Another) wake-up call for servers of alcohol

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

Editor’s Note:
Campus Recreation departments which operate golf courses with restaurant/ bar facilities attached may find this article of interest. There is a (pardon the pun) sobering message here for any recreation organization which sells or distributes alcohol at any of its venues.

On July 3, 2008, a car with 4 occupants crashed through a guard rail, and flipped into Lake Joseph in the Muskoka region of Ontario. One person was able to escape while the other three died. As information was made available to the public, it was alleged that the group had had lunch and were drinking at the Lake Joseph Club bar. Further, it was alleged that 31 drinks were served to the group.

Charges were laid in January 2009 against the bar staff — two servers and one manager – and the licencee, the Board of Directors of the corporate owner, ClubLink (operator of a network of golf courses in Ontario and Quebec). The charges included permitting drunken behaviour on the premises and serving liquor to people who were obviously intoxicated.

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