January 17, 2012
The Ball is In Your Court:
Katharine M. Nohr, Esq.
Nohr Sports Risk Management, LLC
Does your organization provide reasonable accessibility to medical care during recreational activities? A recent Federal Court case addressed this issue, with the Court denying the Defendant’s motion to dismiss the case and so the matter will proceed to trial unless the parties are able to enter into a settlement agreement. See: Estate of Newton v. Grandstaff, 2011 WL 2678933 (July 8, 2011).
The facts of the case are that De Shawn Newton was participating in a basketball tournament involving 128 teams at a YMCA facility in Dallas, Texas. Newton apparently played well in the first half of the game and was seated on the bench, when he suddenly went into cardiac arrest. The coach attempted CPR, but no one else came to his aid. Newton apparently had a congenital respiratory condition and heart defect. Emergency medical personnel were ultimately dispatched, but allegedly could not enter the facility and so no professional care was available for 30 minutes. The Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants failed to “hire or arrange for any medical personnel, or trainers certified in administering CPR, to provide first aid to injured players in need of medical attention; provide for any emergency medical equipment, such as a defibrillator to be available in the event of a medical emergency; and provide effective ingress and egress to the facility that would have allowed emergency medical personnel to access quickly the premises and render immediate and necessary medical aid.” Plaintiffs alleged that Newton would not have died if the proper safety measures had been taken. Defendants took the position that they had no duty owed to Newton.