Rangers Not Liable for Puck-Struck Plaintiff, New York Court Finds

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Since fans knowingly take the risk by sitting in the stands, a case against the New York Rangers has been dismissed after a man was hit and injured by a flying hockey puck while trying to block his son from being hit instead.

A New York appeals court recently ruled against the plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging negligence on the part of the New York Rangers in connection to an incident in which “hockey puck flew into the stands” and injured the plaintiff’s hand, according to a recent report by the New York Law Journal. The First Judicial Department of the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court affirmed a trial court’s ruling in favor of the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case.

The appellate opinion, available here, constituted a single paragraph finding that the defendants in the case, which included the Rangers and several other entities, “met their prima facie burden through sufficient proof that they satisfied the duty of care owed to plaintiff.” The judges continued, “We reject plaintiff’s attempt to turn defendants into insurers of the safety of spectators seated behind the plexiglass.”As the Law Journal article notes, the plaintiff had argued in the underlying case that the defendants did not take adequate precautions to protect him from being struck by a hockey puck. The defendants contended that they met their duty of care “by providing screening and protective shielding and by warning plaintiff in three different ways about the danger of pucks flying into the crowd.” 

The trial court ruled that the defendants did not have a responsibility “to provide absolute protection” for the plaintiff, and that spectators at a sporting event accept “the dangers that inhere in it so far as they are obvious and necessary.” It also found that the plexiglass shielding in front of the spectators “was a reasonable protective measure to prevent pucks from entering the stands.” The plaintiff in the underlying case, which dealt with an incident occurring in 2016, alleged that he “suffered serious and permanent injuries” deflecting the puck, which he said would otherwise have hit his son.

More information on the appeals court’s findings are available via the New York Law Journal.

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