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June 2017

Gordon & Rees New Jersey Team Prevails In Jury Trial Regarding Personal Training Negligence

Florham Park partner Peter Siachos and associate Eric Evans obtained a defense verdict for New York Sports Clubs (“NYSC") after a four-day jury trial in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County. 

The plaintiff, a 57 year old, female member of NYSC, was performing a plyometric jump on an AIREX balance pad when she fell and shattered her wrist.  The plaintiff was participating in a weekly, one-hour personal training session with a personal trainer employed by NYSC when she fell. Prior to the injury, the plaintiff had trained with the personal trainer for four months, and the personal trainer decided to progress the plaintiff to plyometric jumps using an AIREX balance pad.  After jumping on the balance pad several times, the plaintiff fell off the pad and was injured.  

At trial, the plaintiff contended the AIREX pad slipped forward, causing her feet to fly into the air, and the plaintiff to fall backward onto her arm. She claimed NYSC was negligent for her accident because (1) the AIREX balance pad was not suitable for plyometric jumps; (2) the AIREX balance pad was improperly placed on unsuitable flooring, causing it to slip; (3) the personal trainer pushed the plaintiff into plyometric jumps before she was physically or mentally prepared to do so; (4) the personal trainer failed to provide proper plyometric instructions to the plaintiff.

Importantly, Gordon & Rees was able to get portions of the plaintiff’s expert’s report struck during pre-trial motions, including, the expert’s opinion as to the balance pad slipping and being placed on improper flooring. Gordon & Rees successfully discredited the expert's remaining opinions at trial during cross examination. NYSC’s fact and expert witnesses testified that NYSC and its trainer did nothing wrong and that the plaintiff’s fall was part of the inherent risks associated with strenuous physical exercise, such as plyometric exercises. Also, Gordon & Rees was able to get the plaintiff to concede that she was aware that physical exercise can be dangerous and that she acknowledged this risk when executing her membership agreement. The defense’s proofs established that AIREX balance pads were designed for plyometric jumps and customarily used in the fitness industry for plyometric jumps. Lastly, the defense demonstrated the plaintiff was fully capable of performing the exercise at issue, which entailed Mr. Siachos performing plyometric exercises in front of the jury, including “burpees," in a suit and dress shoes.  

The case was heard by eight jurors. After deliberating for approximately 30 minutes, the jury unanimously decided NYSC was not negligent for this accident. 

The Florham Park team would like to thank paralegals Carla Carmo and Nicole Talmo for their assistance in achieving this successful result.

Eric T. Evans
Peter G. Siachos