A Review of Negligence Cases Involving Health and Fitness Facilities: Implications for Reducing Injuries, Lawsuits and Liability

Article excerpt

Daniel P. Connaughton, University of Florida

Over the past several years, interest in physical fitness has increased greatly. Participation in many fitness activities and programs is at an all time high. ACSM (1998) reported that there were over 15,000 health and fitness facilities in the United States. Unfortunately, as a result of these growing numbers there has also been an increase in injuries and subsequent lawsuits. In recent years, an increasing number of lawsuits have been filed against health and fitness facilities and their staffs (Eickhoff-Shemek and Scheer, 1997). Courts throughout the country are handing down decisions that create ever-expanding and new areas of liability in the operation of these facilities. In these programs it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of injury and death. However, it is possible to minimize that risk, and in today's litigious society, it has become imperative to do so. The purpose of this legal case study was to identify legal precedents involving negligence liability in health and fitness facility operation, specifically in lawsuits involving injuries and deaths. A second purpose was to identify legal duties generally applicable to the standard of reasonable prudent care in judicial opinions alleging negligence in health and fitness facility operations. …