South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Vicarious Liability Applies in Case of Inherently Dangerous Activity
Description Appeals court upheld a verdict against a hotel that contracted to host a boxing match. The failure of the match promoter to provide an ambulance was found to have worsened the injury suffered by a boxer. Since boxing is an inherently dangerous activity, vicarious liability made the hotel owner responsible to ensure that such risks were reduced.
Topic Agency
Key Words Independent Contractor; Vicarious Liability; Inherently Dangerous Activity
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Hartmann Productions agreed with Gateway to hold a boxing match at a hotel owned by Gateway. The contract stated that Hartmann would provide a $5 million insurance policy, have a doctor at ringside for the match, and have an ambulance at the hotel during the match. Maldonado, a professional boxer, was knocked out during the match and suffered severe brain damage. No ambulance was provided. Maldonado contended that his injuries were worsened by the lack of adequate medical care. He sued Hartmann and Gateway; the jury awarded $13.7 million in compensatory damages. Gateway appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Inherently dangerous activity is a theory of premises liability under which a landowner that hires an independent contractor to perform such an activity has a non-delegable duty to take special precautions to prevent injury from the activity. Liability is imposed on the landowner under the inherently dangerous activity theory without any requirement that the landowner be proven negligent in any respect. The motive behind such vicarious liability is based on the principle that an enterprise and its beneficiaries should pay for the losses caused by the risks that it creates even without its fault. While Maldonado assumed the risk of being injured in the fight, he did not assume the risk of being injured by the failure of the promoter and the hotel to provide an ambulance.

Citation Maldonado v. Gateway Hotel Holdings, LLC, --- S.W.3d --- (2003 WL 22289857, Ct. App., Mo., 2003)

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