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Teen loses on appeal negligence suit filed for softball injury

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A Wabash County YMCA proved it was entitled to summary judgment on a negligence claim filed by a 17-year-old teen injured while sliding into a base during a softball game on property owned by the YMCA, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.

Taylor Thompson and her mother sued the YMCA alleging the organization was negligent and violated its duty to protect her because the condition of second base was “fixed as a rigid obstacle for participants to encounter while sliding into base and, thereby, posing a clear safety hazard,” according to her lawsuit. The teen claimed she suffered serious and permanent physical injury.

Thompson’s mother had signed a form before her daughter’s participation in the softball league that said she understands injuries can occur and won’t hold the YMCA or other parties responsible for injury or medical expenses incurred while participating in practice or playing in a game.

The YMCA sought to have the case dismissed, citing the form signed by Thompson’s mother. Thompson’s response argued “in the case of minors, a person claiming tort damages on behalf of the minor against another person has power to execute a release on the minor’s behalf, however, the release must be approved by the Court before being effective.”

The trial court denied YMCA’s motion, and on interlocutory appeal, the COA reversed in Wabash County Young Men's Christian Association, Inc. f/k/a Wabash Community Service v. Taylor M. Thompson, a minor, by next friends, Brian Thompson and Charlene Thompson, 85A05-1203-CT-138. Thompson relies on Indiana Code 29-3-9-7(b) to support her argument, but her reliance on this statute is misplaced, Judge Elaine Brown wrote. That statute governs probate law, which is not at issue.

The consent form is valid and it applies to Thompson’s injury because sliding into second base is an activity inherent in the nature of playing softball.

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