MKCI Florham Park General Liability Partners Gary J. Intoccia and Joseph A. Gallo recently obtained a defense verdict in Bergen County Superior Court after a two-week trial involving a claim by a minor Plaintiff that he was injured during a “high-intensity” pre-season workout at a local high school gym that led to the development of rhabdomyolysis, a rare condition involving a breakdown of muscle tissue that releases a damaging protein into the blood. Prior to trial, Plaintiff presented a significant six-figure settlement demand.
Plaintiff claimed that the exercises being performed were new and different even though he had a substantial history of exercising before the incident. He further claimed that the exercises chosen were inappropriate and that the workout was not properly supervised.In support of his claim, Plaintiff called a number of students who testified that the workout was high-intensity and several doctors who confirmed his rhabdomyolysis. He retained a sports safety expert who opined that the workout and exercises were inappropriate and not properly supervised.
In response, Gary and Joe called a sports safety expert who opined that the exercises selected were “common” and posed no increased risk to the students. The sports safety expert further opined that the workout was properly supervised because there was no evidence that the coaches pushed the students beyond their capacity. Plaintiff himself testified that he could have stopped performing the exercises had he wanted to do so but performed the exercises as he did because Plaintiff wanted to impress the coaches and fellow students so he could make the baseball team. It was disputed that the workout was part of a baseball tryout.
The jury was called upon to decide the negligence of Plaintiff and the school district and found that Plaintiff was 60% responsible for the happening of the accident thereby barring his recovery of damages. If a Plaintiff is more than 50% responsible for an accident in New Jersey, then the Plaintiff is barred from recovery since his negligence exceeded the negligence of the Defendant.