Recently, it was reported that a high school football player who was tragically paralyzed while attempting to tackle another player settled his lawsuit that alleging that the school's negligence was at least partially responsible for his injuries.

In reading the report of the case, however, I was struck by one thing: the outcome may well have been different under New York law; or, in other words, the case would probably have been dismissed.

And here's why: in this case, the plaintiff relied upon the school's internal rules that required all players to have at least 10 practices and to have been shown an educational video on safe tackling before they were allowed to take the field in a football game. Based on the school's violation of that rule, the Court declined to dismiss his case on the grounds that he assumed the risk of injury that was inherent in playing football.

Conversely, under New York law, a company or entity's violation of its own internal rules "is not negligence in and of itself, and where such rules require a standard that transcends reasonable care, a breach of those rules cannot be considered evidence of negligence." Gilson v. Metropolitan Opera, 5 N.Y.3d 574, 841 N.E.2d 747, 807 N.Y.S.2d 588 (2005).

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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