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Recklessness Standard Applies to Behavior in Play of All Sports
Description The New Jersey high court held that a standard of heightened, recklessness or intentional conduct standard of care applies generally to conduct in all recreational sports, contact or non-contact. This requires participants to make conscious choices in their actions, which may go beyond the negligence standard.
Topic Torts
Key Words Intentional Conduct Standard of Care; Recklessness; Sports
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts After four members of a golfing foursome had teed off on a hole, and three began to head down the fairway, one member decided to hit another tee shot (a mulligan). The shot hit one of the other players in the eye, causing serious damage. The injured golfer sued; the defendant moved for summary judgment, contending that he had met his duty to avoid the infliction of injury caused by reckless or intentional conduct when a sport is being played. He claimed he had waved at the other players that he was going to hit another shot. The trial court dismissed the suit; plaintiff appealed. The appeals court held that negligence was the standard and that the case should go forward. The defendant appealed.
Decision Affirmed as modified. The risk of injury is a common and inherent aspect of athletic efforts. The application of the heightened, recklessness or intentional conduct standard of care for causes of action for personal injuries occurring in recreational sports should not depend on which sport is involved and whether it is commonly perceived as a contact or non-contact sport. Reckless conduct is an extreme departure from ordinary care, in a situation in which a high degree of danger is apparent. Recklessness, unlike negligence, requires a conscious choice of a course of action with knowledge or reason to know that it will create serious danger to others. It is for the trial court to consider the totality of the circumstances in this situation to determine if the defendant acted recklessly.
Citation Schick v. Ferolito, - A.2d - (2001 WL 237364, Sup. Ct., N.J., 2001)

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