Gordon & Rees Westchester, New York partner Donald G. Derrico and senior counsel Lorraine M. Girolamo obtained an appellate victory on June 28, 2016 after a previous denial of their summary judgment motion by the trial court. The Appellate Division, First Department, unanimously reversed the decision and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint against Gordon & Rees's client, a national health club chain.
The plaintiff, Sharon Ingram, was a member of the defendant's gym for several years prior to the accident and had significant experience with cardio equipment, including treadmills and step-mills. On the date of the accident she attempted to climb on a treadmill that was left moving by a prior user. While she admitted that she was not looking at the machine’s tread before attempting to climb on, she claims that it was the gym's fault due to the inadequate spacing between treadmills, the loud music, and the fact that the machine’s “Smart Stop” feature did not shut the machine off when the prior user vacated the machine. In addition to suing Gordon & Rees's client, the plaintiff also sued the treadmill manufacturer.
The plaintiff claims that as a result of the accident she struck her head/face, causing her post-traumatic macular detachment and blindness in the left eye, and retinal detachment in the right eye, resulting in the need for her to undergo multiple surgeries. She had a large lost wage claim as well. The most recent settlement demand was $950,000.
At the trial court level, Gordon & Rees attorneys moved for summary judgment arguing that since the plaintiff was an experienced treadmill user and since there were no latent defects with respect to the treadmill, the primary assumption of risk doctrine applied, and barred any recovery against the firm's client. The trial court denied the motion and Gordon & Rees attorneys appealed to the Appellate Division First Department. Ultimately the Appellate Division agreed with the arguments made by Gordon & Rees attorneys and reversed the trial court’s decision, thereby dismissing all claims against the firm's client.