This is a claim for personal injuries suffered by claimant Anthony J.
, who was injured while participating in a basketball game at Lee Hall Gymnasium
on the Oswego campus of the State University of New York ("SUNY Oswego").
Claimant testified that on February 22, 2000, he was participating in an
intramural basketball game in the Lee Hall Gymnasium, during his freshman year
at SUNY Oswego. Although it was a full-court game, games were being played
width-wise, so that the gymnasium could accommodate two full-court games
simultaneously. Claimant testified that during the course of his game, he
attempted a pass which was intercepted by an opposing player. Claimant then
pursued the opposing player, and as that player went up for a lay-up, claimant
leaped in an attempt to block the shot. His momentum carried him forward, and
he collided with the gymnasium wall located behind the basket, sustaining his
injuries. Claimant also testified that the wall with which he collided was not
covered with any padding at the time of this incident.
Irving Paris, a licensed architect, testified as an expert witness on behalf of
claimant. He testified that the unpadded wall with which claimant collided was
situated seven feet, nine inches from the backboard. He further testified that
based on generally accepted standards, there should have been a minimum of ten
feet between the backboard and the wall, and that the lack of padding also
violated architectural standards.
It is claimants' contention that the State created a dangerous condition by its
failure to provide sufficient space between the backboard and the wall, as well
as by its failure to install any padding on that wall, and that this dangerous
condition was the proximate cause of claimant's injuries.
The State contends that the proximity of the wall to the backboard, as well as
the lack of any padding on the wall, did not constitute a dangerous condition.
Furthermore, defendant contends that claimant's participation in this intramural
basketball game constituted an assumption of risk.
It is well-settled that a landowner has a duty to maintain its property in a
reasonably safe condition in view of all the circumstances (
Basso v Miller
, 40 NY2d 233). As a landowner, the State is subject to
the same standard of care that applies to private landowners (Preston v State
of New York
, 59 NY2d 997).
Intramural sporting activities involve inherent dangers to the participants
Scaduto v State of New York
, 86 AD2d 682, affd
56 NY2d 762), and
participants in such athletic activities consent by means of their participation
to commonly appreciated risks inherent in the nature of that sport (Morgan v
State of New York
, 90 NY2d 471, 484; Turcotte v Fell
, 68 NY2d 432,
439). Therefore, in order for a claimant to succeed, he or she must establish
that the dangerous condition complained of constitutes a hazard over and above
the usual hazards inherent to that sport (Morgan v State of New York
In this particular case, there can be no question that the unpadded wall
situated behind the backboard was open and obvious to claimant. Furthermore,
claimant testified that he had played on this basketball court numerous times
prior to the day of the accident. He also testified that the play on which he
was injured was the type of play that would occur during the normal course of a
game. He also acknowledged that running or falling out of bounds during a
basketball game is also a common occurrence in the game of basketball.
Based on the testimony presented, the Court finds that claimant was an
experienced basketball player who was also very familiar with the basketball
court at Lee Hall Gymnasium. The Court must also find that the location of the
wall beyond the backboard was an open and obvious condition in the gymnasium,
and that the risk of running into this wall during the course of a basketball
game was a risk, inherent to the game of basketball, which claimant appreciated
and assumed when he chose to participate in the game. This claim, therefore,
must be dismissed.
Even though it must dismiss this claim, the Court would be remiss if it did not
acknowledge the fine effort made by both counsel in the presentation of this
claim. Both counsel are to be commended for the professional and capable manner
in which they conducted this trial.
Any motions not heretofore ruled upon are hereby denied.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.