July 19, 2011


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

In a time where most campus recreation programs are laboring to produce revenue, youth programming offers an economically viable and administratively practical option. Most youth programming is run during off-peak times for campus recreation, namely the summer months and holiday breaks when student usage is less. However, youth programming also entails unique and, in most instances, greater legal responsibility – namely the supervision of minors. This article will lay out basic issues from starting a youth program, selecting a staff, and running the program.

The term “minor” itself is a legal term differentiated from child, kid, adolescent, or youth. The term minor is defined as “someone who has yet to reach the legal age at which [they are] responsible for his/her own actions.” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law (2nd ed. 2008). Since a minor is not of sufficient age to be responsible for their own actions that means that the responsibility will shift to some other person or entity to be responsible for them. Under the American common law, this responsibility shifts to the parent/guardian. A legal relationship exists between a parent/guardian and a child where the parent/guardian is responsible for the health, safety, well-being, support, and control of the minor. But what happens when the parent is not in control of the child? This legal relationship then shifts to the provider of care when the provider has stepped into the role of parent, commonly referred to as “in loco parentis.” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law (2nd ed. 2008). The question of whether a person/entity acting in place of the parent has these responsibilities is contingent upon whether the person/entity intended to undertake them. West’s Encyclopedia of American Law (2nd ed. 2008). Under this standard, it would appear that youth programming taking place in a recreation center would qualify as in loco parentis.

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What Will be the Significance of Going ‘Out of Bounds’

July 14, 2011

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

During the winter season of 2009, there were a number of avalanche tragedies in Western Canada. Most, if not all, of them could have been avoided with the use of common sense and in some cases, proper preparation. However, one tragedy garnered more publicity due to the sequence of events surrounding the incident. A Quebec couple skied under the tape at Kicking Horse Resort, and skied out of bounds. They became lost and were not found until 9 days later and sadly, the wife had died largely due to hypothermia. What happened between the time they skied under the tape and when they were found is now being investigated and will be seen through a microscope as a result of the lawsuit that was filed by the survivor shortly thereafter.

Apparently, after the couple descended the slope they were near the Columbia River, and quickly realized that they were lost. They attempted to follow the river but chose the wrong way which took them farther from help rather than closer. At one point, they marked out “SOS” in the snow which was seen by back country skiers on the second day and reported to the local Search and Rescue Group. This group, like other search and rescue groups is made up of volunteers, and though highly trained, they cannot simply go out and search and rescue without authority from police and the Provincial Emergency Programme. The resort was contacted but there was nothing to indicate that anyone was missing. There is a dispute as to who was to call the RCMP, the person reporting the SOS sighting or the search and rescue group, but the RCMP was not contacted. As a result, no search and rescue was conducted. Read more

SportRisk Planning Manual

July 14, 2011


SportRisk: Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1: Introduction

CHAPTER 2: Negligence

1. Why is Negligence such a Big Deal?

  • Our Litigious Society
  • Impact of Increased Litigation on Sport/Recreation

2. Negligence

  • Tort Law
  • What is Negligence?

3. Establishing Liability for Negligence

  • Establishing Negligence
  • Duty of Care
  • Standard of Care
  • Actual Harm
  • Proximate Cause
  • Liability for Negligence
  • Personal Liability
  • Vicarious Liability
  • Products and Premises/Occupiers Liability
  • Defences against Negligence
  • Contributory Negligence
  • Voluntary Assumption of Risk
  • Waivers

4. Negligence and the Courts

  • The Legal Process
  • What to do in the Event of a Lawsuit

CHAPTER 3: The 5 Key Risk Areas

1. Supervision & Instruction

  • Qualifications & Certifications
  • Supervision Ratios
  • Lesson Plans & Progressions
  • Job Descriptions
  • Matching Participants

2. Training

  • What Training is Required?
  • Who Needs to be Trained?
  • Training Grids

3. Facilities & Equipment

  • New Facility Design Issues
  • Inspections
  • Maintenance
  • Inspection and Maintenance Checklists
  • Signage
  • Facility and Equipment Modification
  • Natural Hazards

4. Documentation

  • Risk Management Manual
  • Waivers
  • Medical Screening
  • Risk Information

5. Emergency Response Plan

  • Emergency Planning Process
  • Training
  • Rehearsals/ Drills
  • Equipment
  • Communication

CHAPTER 4: Risk Management Planning

1. Risk Management: What’s it all about?

  • What’s all the Fuss?
  • Defining Risk Management

2. The Role of Insurance

  • The Cornerstone of your Risk Management Plan

3. Keeping it Simple

  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

4. Focus on High Risk Areas: The Risk Matrix

  • Risk Matrix: Probability vs. Severity

5. Risk Management Planning

3 Step Process:

  • Step 1: Prioritize High Risk vs. Low Risk
    – The Risk Matrix
  • Step 2: Conduct an Audit/ Risk Assessment
    – The 5 Key Risk Areas
    – The Key issues in each Risk Area
    – The Key Audit Questions
  • Step 3: Develop Action Plans

6. Organizing for Risk Management

  • The Risk Management Committee

CHAPTER 5: Special Policy Areas

1. Transportation

  • Four Key Areas (Vehicles; Drivers; Passengers; Emergency Response)
  • Trip Administrator
  • Trip Leader

2. Sport Clubs

  • Reporting Structure
  • Coaches
  • Travel
  • Emergency Care
  • Other (Waivers; Medical Screening; Safety Officer; Alcohol/Drugs; Hazing;)
  • Sport Clubs Manual

3. Summer Camps

  • Staffing
  • Supervision & Training
  • Emergency Response
  • Documentation
  • Facilities & Equipment
  • Other (Behavioural Issues; Medications; Transportation; Insurance)
  • Summer Camps Manual

4. Disease Control

  • Bloodborne pathogens
  • Infectious Diseases

5. Alcohol & Drugs

  • Policies
  • Facility Rentals involving alcohol

6. Event Management

  • Five Key Areas
  • Event Management Checklist

7. Contracts

  • Facility Rentals
  • Personnel

In today’s litigious society, can you afford not to have this book?

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A Primer on Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage

July 14, 2011

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

Does your organization use motor vehicles to transport athletes, spectators or others? If so, it is essential for risk management planning to make sure that such vehicles are fully insured in compliance with applicable law. It is a good idea to talk with your insurance agent or broker about the insurance policies that have been purchased in order to ensure that there is sufficient coverage. Policy exclusions should be scrutinized to determine if there will be coverage for the uses of the motor vehicles in question. You will also want to make sure that policy limits are high enough to cover your organization in the case of a catastrophic accident.
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Managing Risk in Sport and Recreation: The Essential Guide for Loss Prevention

July 14, 2011

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

On March 8, 2003, I was training for the cycling segment of a half Ironman triathlon. I had traveled to Maui with a sport club and we were biking from Kahului to Hana, a treacherous 56 mile ride in the rain. Fatigue, wet brakes and lack of experience navigating switch backs down steep mountain terrain caused my bike to lose control, hit a guard rail and launch me into the air down a 280 foot cliff. The force had caused my bike to break in half, landing high in a tree. My fall was miraculously broken by a ledge where I landed on my knee and wrist, suffering relatively minor injuries (only 3 fractured wrist bones) rather than the more likely outcome of death. The rescue was made by firefighters rappelling down the mountain, rather than an impossibly dangerous helicopter mission.
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Courts Have Ruled that Participants Assume the Risk of Injury

July 14, 2011

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

Three appellate courts have ruled in the last two months that participants in golf, soccer and football have assumed the risk of their involvement in New York and Indiana. On January 26, 2010, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division of New York issued a decision in Brown v. City of New York, __N.Y.S.2d__, 69 A.D.3d 893 (2010), concluding that a football player injured at a public field owned by the city had assumed the risk. The facts of the case were as follows: while playing touch football, Plaintiff dove for the football at the sideline of the public field. His knee struck a cement strip, which was approximately five feet outside of the sideline and ran alongside the field. The evidence established that the player had played there before and that he was aware of the cement strip, which was open and obvious. The defendant was able to establish that the Plaintiff assumed the risk of injury by voluntarily participating in the football game, even though he knew that by doing so, he could come into contact with the cement strip located in the out-of-bounds area of the field.
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