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An Important Exception to Assumption of the Risk Under New York Law

Granted, as we wrote previously, "Play at Your Own Risk" may not always true under New York law.

But in order to clarify matters further, consider the following explicit exception to the rule: the doctrine of inherent compulsion.

"What's that?" you ask.

Basically, it means that if the plaintiff (such as a child) is compelled to participate in an activity - and feels that s/he has no choice in the matter, then the assumption of the risk doctrine will not apply. And the reason for this is relatively straightforward: assumption of the risk inherently calls for a voluntary assumption of the risk of the activity; therefore, it stands to reason that if the plaintiff is forced to perform the activity, a critical element to the assumption of risk defense is lacking.

Bringing this down to a practical level, in order to establish inherent compulsion, the plaintiff is required to prove the following:

(1) a direction by a superior to do the act; and, 
(2) "economic compulsion or other circumstance which equally impels the actor to comply with the direction given."
Jonathan Cooper
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