By: Dr. Kevin Boully
“There is danger in all sports, anyone who plays them takes that risk for themselves.”
-Mock Juror in recent sports litigation research
Athletes choose to play sports that involve risk. Athletic teams, coaches and organizations are aware of the risk just like players. So, how much personal responsibility does an individual athlete have for safely participating in his or her chosen sport? What must the player and the organization do to make sure all possible safeguards are in place to reduce risk? Who should be held most responsible?
Jurors (and judges, arbitrators and mediators) confront these basic but critical questions in sports-related lawsuits like that of former college football player Stafon Johnson. This week, Mr. Johnson sued the University of Southern California and ex-assistant conditioning coach, Jamie Yanchar, claiming negligence in the 2009 weightlifting incident that resulted in severe injuries to Mr. Johnson’s throat, threatening his life, ending his college football career, and potentially limiting his professional career. Continue reading