Justices rule against woman injured by karate kick

A woman who sued a karate classmate when she was injured by his jump-kick cannot prove recklessness, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday, extending its jurisprudence applied to torts arising from sports injuries.

Justices affirmed summary judgment in favor of David Dunn, whose jump-kick injured black belt Tresa Megenity as she held the bag during a “kick the bag” drill, extending and clarifying a prior ruling in a sports negligence case.

“Our decision in Pfenning v. Lineman, 947 N.E.2d 392 (Ind. 2011), established a limited new rule: Indiana courts do not referee disputes arising from ordinary sports activity. Instead, as a matter of law, when a sports participant injures someone while engaging in conduct ordinary in the sport — and without intent or recklessness — the participant does not breach a duty,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote for the court.

“Today we clarify that under Pfenning ordinary conduct in the sport turns on the sport generally — not the specific activity. Here, during a karate class drill, David Dunn jump-kicked a bag, injuring Tresa Megenity, who was holding the bag. Since jump kicks are ordinary in the sport of karate generally, and no evidence supports intent or recklessness, Megenity cannot show breach as a matter of law. We thus affirm summary judgment for Dunn.”

In Pfenning, the court rejected a suit brought by a teen beverage cart driver who was struck by an errant golf ball after a golfer failed to yell “fore.”

“(A)djusting our focus to the sport of karate overall, we conclude that Dunn’s jump kick was ordinary, even if it was contrary to the protocol for the kicking-the-bag drill,” Rush wrote. “Like the wayward drive in Pfenning, Dunn’s jump kick may reflect poor technique or faulty execution. But it was ordinary conduct in the sport or karate generally, and no evidence show intent or recklessness. We therefore find no breach as a matter of law and affirm summary judgment.”

The case is Tresa Megenity v. David Dunn, 22S04-1609-CT-465.

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