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R. Stewart, “an experienced skater,” fell while coaching ice hockey to a bunch of students at Central Park’s Lasker Rink (West). Apparently, at about 3:45 PM, on the day in question, Stewart complained about the ice’s “rough” condition -- the existence of a "rut" -- but nothing was done by the time practice began, (3:15 PM), or his injury’s occurrence (which was about 45 minutes later; 4:30 PM). Yet, the New York County Supreme Court opted to dismiss his subsequently filed personal-injury case based on the fact that Stewart knowingly “assumed the risks” associated with the athletic activity in question.

On appeal, the Appellate Division, First Department, noted that Stewart did not dispute that an assumption-of-risk bar would ordinarily apply. What made his claim interesting, though, was that Stewart asserted an “inherent compulsion” twist – noting that he was merely an employee of the rink, and that when he expressed his reservations to his supervisor that individual “dismissed his concerns and directed him to proceed with the practice.”

Believing that he didn’t have a choice, and that he was without authority to reschedule or cancel the practice, the AD1 thought that Stewart thus stated a viable negligence claim and reinstated his case.

Looks like Wollman Rink got an icy reception there ….

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Stewart v Wollman Rink Operations LLC