December 06, 2010

Assumption of risk in a work-related activity

Assumption of risk in a work-related activity
Rios v Town of Colonie, 256 AD2d 900

Public safety agencies often sponsor athletic events or authorize members to participate in them. The Rios case involved Ramon Rios, a Town of Colonie corrections officer, who was injured while participating in “Department Olympics.”

Rios alleged that he was injured when he entered an obstacle course, which included a three-foot diameter black plastic culvert pipe and grazed his head on the “sharp and jagged edge of the pipe.” The cut to the top of his head required 21 sutures to close. He sued the town for his injuries.

Colonie objected and asked a Supreme Court judge to dismiss Rios’ complaint, contending that the doctrine of assumption of risk applied in this case.*

When the court dismissed the town’s motion, it appealed. The Appellate Division sustained the lower court’s ruling, indicating that Rios’ allegations had raised “genuine factual issues” as to whether the “sharp, razor-like and serrated edge” of the culvert pipe posed an open and obvious risk to him, or whether it constituted an “unassumed, concealed or unreasonably increased risk” to Rios.

Noting that Rios’ time to inspect the course was limited to a brief “walk-through” prior to the race, the Appellate Division returned the matter to the lower court for further action.

*
The doctrine of assumption of risk holds that a participant in an athletic event of this type “assumed the risks that are generally inherent and flow from his [or her] participation” in these events. The participant in such events, however, does not assume risks that are unique and resulted from dangerous conditions.
NYPPL

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