17 October, 2017
Swan v Christopher Good t/a Nite Life Entertainments
Kingston Upon Hull County Court - DJ Besford
The Defendant was the owner of a rodeo bull ride which was hired by the Claimant for her daughter's birthday party. During the party, the Claimant decided to take a turn on the ride and fell off on to the matting. It was alleged that the ride continued after the Claimant had fallen, banged into her and caused an injury to the Claimant's shoulder.
It was the Claimant's case that the injury was caused by the Defendant's negligence. It was claimed that the Defendant had failed to take reasonable care and had increased the speed of the bull during the Claimant's turn. It was further alleged that the ride failed to stop as soon as the Claimant had fallen from the bull.
Prior to the trial the Judge was able to view video footage of the party including the Claimant's actual accident. The Judge agreed with the Defendant's assessment that from looking at the video it was not obvious that the speed increased during the Claimant's turn or that the operator deliberately set the ride for a higher speed than the speed set for the others.
The Judge also concluded that the video did not support the Claimant's version of events that she fell, returned to a sitting position and was then hit. The video clearly showed the bull stopped promptly within 2 seconds of the Claimant going beyond saving and before the Claimant's legs had hit the mat. The operator had exercised vigilance and a reasonable reaction time.
The claim was therefore dismissed.
The point of a rodeo ride is to throw riders off, and this was repeatedly stressed by the Defendant throughout the trial. Adults in particular should be prepared to accept a certain amount of risk if they willingly choose to participate in a potentially risky activity. In the recent case of Emma Maylin v Dacorum Sports Trust (2017)EWHC 378 (QB) the High Court dismissed a personal injury claim following a fall from a wall at a climbing centre. The Judge found that the risk of falling during such activity was inherent and obvious. Whilst this line of argument does not always provide a complete defence, if the Defendant can also demonstrate that they have acted reasonably in the circumstances then such claims can be successfully defended.