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Blume v. Equinox Holdings, Inc.

Civil Court of City of New York, New York County

July 17, 2013

David BLUME, Plaintiff,
v.
EQUINOX HOLDINGS, INC. d/b/a Equinox Fitness Club and Equinox 44th Street Inc., Defendants. No. TS-300345/10.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been referenced in a table in the New York Supplement.

Pillinger Miller Tarallo, LLP, Elmsford.

Larocca Hornik Rosen/Et Al New York, for Defendants.

LYNN R. KOTLER, J.

Recitation, as required by CPLR § 2219[a] of the papers considered in the review of this (these) motion(s):

Paper Numbered
Defs' n/m (sj), affirm, exhs1
Plt's DEH opp affirm, exhs2

In this action, plaintiff seeks to recover for injuries sustained while he was performing a " squat" during a personal training session at defendant's business. Defendants now move for summary judgment, arguing that the primary assumption of the risk doctrine bars plaintiff's recovery. Plaintiff opposes the motion. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted.

Issue has been joined, and the motion was brought within 120 days after Notice of Trial was filed, therefore summary judgment relief is available (CPLR § 3212; Brill v. City of New York, 2 N.Y.3d 648 [2004] ).

On December 5, 2006, plaintiff sustained injuries to his back while performing a squat exercise with 300 pounds during the course of a personal training session with Christopher Campbell, a personal trainer employed by Equinox. At the time of the accident, plaintiff was 39 years old. According to plaintiff's testimony at his deposition, plaintiff had a long history of performing exercises with weights. Plaintiff had begun performing the squat exercise in 2004 with a personal trainer at the New York Sports Club. At that time plaintiff was advised about the potential for injury while performing squats. Plaintiff progressed to the point where he typically lifted 200 pounds prior to the time of his injury. Plaintiff had tried lifting 220 pounds with a prior personal trainer at Equinox, but had never attempted anything higher before the date of his injury.

Campbell testified at his deposition that " [w]hen I give anybody a squat, I always talk about the risks of a squat and the benefits." Campbell explained that the risks include hurting your back, knees, herniated disk, ACL tears, hernia and sprained wrist. When asked if he explained those risks to plaintiff, Campbell stated " [p]robably yes."

Plaintiff claims that Campbell failed to design a competent safe program for him to perform, specifically when he asked plaintiff to squat 300 pounds, a weight that Campbell knew was too heavy for plaintiff. Plaintiff points to an email sent to all his clients on December 6, 2006, including plaintiff, wherein Campbell stated: " if you ask me to do heavy lifting (ie. 200lbs bench or 300lbs squat) and I don't think your (sic) ready, I will say NO."

Defendants cite the myriad cases which have applied the primary assumption of the risk doctrine to find that no duty is owed to an injured party who engages in athletic or recreational activity. In opposition, plaintiff argues that because plaintiff " was not involved in playing any game on a field which is the premise in almost all the cited cases by defense counsel", the doctrine does not ...


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