It’s Not Just “Sports” Anymore! The California Supreme Court Extends Primary Assumption Of Risk To “Recreational Activities.”

Adding to defense bar’s reasons to celebrate this New Year’s Eve was the California Supreme Court’s decision in Nalwa v. Cedar Fair, L.P. – holding that the primary assumption of risk doctrine applies to passengers injured in bumper car rides without regard for whether the activity is considered a “sport.” The decision will likely have beneficial implications for operators of sports, recreation and fitness facilities across the state.

The Facts: Dr. Nalwa Breaks Her Wrist Driving A Bumper Car

The plaintiff, Dr. Smriti Nalwa, took her grade school children to the Great America amusement park, owned and operated by defendant Cedar Fair, L.P. Plaintiff and her children went on the park’s Rue le Dodge bumper car ride. She rode as a passenger in a bumper car her nine-year old son drove, while her six-year old daughter drove another car by herself. Toward the end of the ride, Dr. Nalwa’s bumper car was bumped from the front and then from behind. Feeling a need to brace herself, Dr. Nalwa put her hand on the car’s “dashboard”, and her wrist was fractured in the subsequent jostling.

Court of Appeal: Bumper Cars Are Not A “Sport”

Dr. Nalwa sued Cedar Fair for negligence, common carrier liability, and willful misconduct. The trial court granted Cedar Fair’s summary judgment motion, holding that her injury resulted from a risk that was inherent in riding in bumper cars. The Court of Appeal reversed based on the public policy of promoting safety at amusement parks and its conclusion that riding in bumper cars was too “benign” to be considered a “sport” for the purposes of the primary assumption of risk doctrine.

The Supreme Court Reverses

In reversing the appellate court’s decision, the Supreme Court focused on More…

–James Parton III & Michael H. Giacinti

For question or more information on this topic, please contact James Parton III at jparton@PartonSell.com or Michael H. Giacinti at mgiacinti@partonsell.com.

Adding to defense bar’s reasons to celebrate this New Year’s Eve was the California Supreme Court’s decision in Nalwa v. Cedar Fair, L.P. – holding that the primary assumption of risk doctrine applies to passengers injured in bumper car rides without regard for whether the activity is considered a “sport.” The decision will likely have […]