John Caher in the New York Law Journal discusses the views of Benjamin Cardozo on assumption of risk:
Assumption of risk in cases arising from athletic or recreational activities is a principle that has been part of New York law at least since 1929, when in Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co., 250 NY 479, Chief Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo said that one who “takes part in … sport accepts the dangers that inhere in it so far as they are obvious and necessary.” That case involved a plaintiff who fell from an amusement park ride called “The Flopper” and suffered a leg injury.
“Nothing happened to the plaintiff except what common experience tells us may happen at any time as the consequence of a sudden fall,” Cardozo wrote in reversing the Appellate Division, 1st Department. “Many a skater or a horseman can rehearse a tale of equal woe… . One might as well say that a skating rink should be abandoned because skaters sometimes fall.” He added: “The timorous may stay at home.”
(“Panel Rules Hurt Olympic Skater Assumed ‘Inherent Risk’ of Sport”, May 1). Declarations and Exclusions (Apr. 7) and Rick Karcher (May 22) have more on some recent assumption-of-risk cases in California, including a 6-1 decision by the state’s high court ruling that a college baseball player could not sue over a “bean ball”. See Mike McKee, “Calif. Supreme Court: Ballplayer Can’t Sue for Bean Ball”, The Recorder, Apr. 10.