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Massachusetts Court Affirms Summary Judgment to Player, Coaches, and Refs in Hockey Player’s Personal Injury Lawsuit

In a Cape Cod personal injury lawsuit, the essential question is, did the defendant behave in a reasonably prudent manner under the circumstances? These types of cases can be very fact-specific, as what constitutes “reasonable” can vary substantially from situation to situation.

For example, generally speaking, it would not be considered reasonable to run into another person with the intent of knocking an object out of his or her possession. However, the same conduct might be considered acceptable within the confines of two teams playing a rough sport – hockey, for example. Still, even in a game, there are situations in which a negligence or recklessness claim may be viable. As stated above, it all depends on the circumstances.

Facts of the Case

In a recent Massachusetts appeals court case, the plaintiff was a hockey player who brought suit against the defendants (the plaintiff’s coach, a player on an opposing team, the opposing team’s coach, two referees, and others), seeking monetary compensation for injuries he allegedly incurred while participating in a hockey game. Both the plaintiff and the opposing player whose blades allegedly cut the plaintiff’s wrist during the game were 17 years old at the time of the incident giving rise to the litigation.

Although the plaintiff offered evidence to the effect that the other player had illegally “charged” him instead of merely “checking” him (which was allowed under the rules of the game), the trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants. The plaintiff sought further review from the appellate court.

The Court’s Decision on the Issues

On appeal, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment to the defendants. The court began its analysis by observing that hockey is a game in which players must wear protective gear from head to toe, players wear sharpened steel blades on their feet, and checking is a fundamental aspect of the game. The court then noted that the state supreme court has previously held that those who participate in sports owe each other only a duty to refrain from reckless misconduct. Recklessness, of course, is different from negligence and requires proof of conduct that goes beyond what would constitute mere carelessness.

Applying that standard to the case at bar, the reviewing tribunal found that summary judgment on the plaintiff’s negligence claim against the defendants was proper. In so holding, the court ruled that no rational view of the record could support a finding that the defendant player’s conduct was reckless, i.e. constituting extreme misconduct that was outside the range of the ordinary activity inherent in the sport of hockey. The court likewise found that the plaintiff’s negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness claims against the remaining defendants did not raise a triable issue of fact.

Speak to an Attorney About Your Cape Cod Negligence Case

If you have questions about a possible negligence or recklessness claim, you should talk to a qualified trial attorney about the necessary steps to seek fair compensation for your injuries. To schedule an appointment with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog III, at 888-262-6664 today.