There is always some risk of injury associated with exercising in a gym using weights and other equipment. When individuals wish to seek the services of a certified personal trainer, they are instilling some trust that these trainers know what they are doing. If a trainer is informed about an injury or pre-existing condition, a client expects the trainer to have an understanding of this and to formulate a workout or exercise program that is sensitive to that prior injury or pre-existing condition. Some may argue that a client assumes the risk of getting injured by making the voluntary choice to work with a personal trainer. However, there is always more to the story, and there are situations where trainers act negligently, causing or contributing to cause injuries suffered by clients.
Injured Woman Obtains $1.4 Million Verdict in Negligent Exercise Instruction Lawsuit
Linda Baldi-Perry, a 45-year-old New York woman, obtained a verdict of $1.4 million last year in a lawsuit where her personal trainer/exercise instructor was found 70% liable for injuries the woman suffered. Ms. Baldi-Perry had pre-existing back and neck issues that required prior surgeries. She communicated this information to a personal trainer she began working with after her doctor told her to continue to be active. Ms. Baldi-Perry worked with this trainer for two years before the trainer opened Fitness 360, a new gym. While training at this new gym, Ms. Baldi-Perry suffered significant and debilitating injuries to her cervical spine that required surgical intervention.
Ms. Baldi-Perry suffered these injuries after her personal trainer advised her that it was safe to participate in a particular workout routine that required lifting 75- pound weights, jumping jacks, and squat thrusts, all very intense exercises that may be too much for someone with prior serious back issues. The personal trainer told Ms. Baldi-Perry to “trust him.” Additionally, the personal trainer wanted Ms. Baldi-Perry and another group of individuals to complete the workout routine in the shortest amount of time possible, further adding to the intensity and stress that the workout will have on an individual’s body.
Ms. Baldi-Perry relied on the trainer’s statement that the exercise routine would be safe. However, the jury did find Ms. Baldi-Perry 30% at fault, likely because she voluntarily participated in the exercise routine. Regardless, the personal trainer took most of the blame, as he knew or should have known that lifting such heavy weights, and performing such high-impact exercises would be too intense for Ms. Baldi-Perry given her prior back injuries and surgeries. The personal trainer was in a better position to know whether or not the stress of the exercise routine would be too much for Ms. Baldi-Perry.
Ms. Baldi-Perry’s lawsuit was against both the personal trainer as well as Fitness 360, the second gym that the personal trainer opened. In addition to allegations that the personal trainer and Fitness 360 were at fault for Ms. Baldi-Perry’s injuries, the lawsuit also alleged negligent hiring. Ms. Baldi-Perry’s injuries were permanent in nature, as the cervical spinal fusion she underwent did not eliminate all of her pain and discomfort that she is likely to experience for years to come.
In near every case involving sports activity in California, Primary Assumption of the risk is a defense if proven. Additionally, there are often waivers signed by the participant. Sometimes such waivers are valid and sometimes not. These are difficult legal issues you should consult with an experienced attorney about.
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