March 22, 2012
The Ball is In Your Court
Katharine M. Nohr, Esq.
Nohr Sports Risk Management, LLC
Hosts of indoor spectator sports have the challenge of providing safe viewing to attendees. In a recent case decided by the Court of Appeals in Oregon, Matson v. Oregon Arena Corp., 242 Or.App. 520, 256 P.3d 161 (2011), the court affirmed a $2,125,000 award of damages to an attendee who sustained damages when she fell 40 feet from a railing in the arena. A jury had found Oregon Arena Corporation (OAC) 50 percent at fault for the injuries that the Plaintiff sustained. The accident occurred when the Plaintiff fell from a railing that enclosed the 300-level smokers’ lounge during a Portland Trail Blazers basketball game at the Rose Garden. Plaintiff alleged that OAC did not post any warning signs regarding the risk of falling, did not have a barrier that would prevent customers from falling and did not implement adequate policies or procedures requiring its employees to warn customers of the danger of sitting on the bench-like platform from which Plaintiff fell. Plaintiff also alleged that the nighttime lighting was insufficient, the bench-like platform gave an impression that it was safe for seating, and that there should have been a video security surveillance system in order to protect customers from harm. The appellate court’s published decision primarily addressed issues regarding jury instructions and did not provide details of how OAC was negligent.