Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Woman Hit By Hockey Puck Loses Court of Claims Case

Image of a hockey puck

Miami University was found not liable for injuries resulting from a stray hockey puck.

Image of a hockey puck

Miami University was found not liable for injuries resulting from a stray hockey puck.

Emily Austin v. Miami University, Case No. 2013-00078

A woman struck on the head by a hockey puck during a pre-game warm up at Miami University lost her liability claim this week. Emily Austin was seeking $200 in medical expenses from the school, the cost of her insurance policy’s deductible.

Miami University denied liability stating Austin had assumed the risk of being struck by a hockey puck when she entered the hockey arena on November 9, 2012. The school noted that the “hockey arena is protected by 8’ boards and end zone nets equal to or greater than the standard hockey arenas.” The school also said it frequently makes public announcements during games warning spectators of possible flying pucks. Austin responded that she was hit by the hockey puck before the game started.

In the decision released August 13, the Court of Claims cited Cincinnati Baseball Club Co. V. Eno, 112 Ohio St. 175, 147 N.E. 86 (1925) when it compared Austin’s claim to a case where a plaintiff was injured by a baseball hit into the stands. “It is well settled that spectators attending baseball games who are injured by batted balls flying into the stands are denied recovery based on the primary assumption of the risk doctrine,” the court said.

The Court of Claims applied the three-part test for primary assumption of risk, which requires  “1) the danger is ordinary to the game; 2) it is common knowledge that the danger exists; and 3) the injury occurs as a result of the danger during the course of the game.” The court said it finds no inherent difference between baseball and hockey when applying the assumption of risk doctrine.

“There is no obligation on the part of the operator of a hockey game such as M.U. to protect a spectator against being hit by a flying puck ... Evidence has shown defendant did take measures by erecting glass and boards around the perimeter of the Ice Arena to provide some safety to spectators from errant pucks. Nevertheless, pucks do enter the stands; an inherent risk in the game of hockey, which is common, expected, and frequent,” the court said. “Consequently, plaintiff’s claim is denied since defendant owed her no duty to protect her from the known danger presented.”

The Court of Claims has original jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the State of Ohio and its agencies.

To access information on other cases visit the Court of Claims website.

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