A Connecticut Superior Court (Lenti v. Jacobson, 2009 Conn. Super. Lexis 2985) recently struck a claim by a student who brought a negligence claim against another student for an injury that occurred during a floor hockey game in gym class. The injured student sought to hold her fellow student for “negligently” tripping her with a hockey stick during the game. In response, the defendant student asked the Court to strike the claim for negligence, relying upon Jaworski v. Kiernan, 241 Conn. 399 (1997), which held that proof of negligence is insufficient to to create liability against the participant of a team contact sport.
The Lenti Court held that there are compelling public policy arguments for holding a participant in a contact support to a higher legal duty than mere negligence, even when participation is mandated, as in the context of a gym class. The Court held that “students would be hesitant to particpate or their parents would refuse to allow them to participate in gym class athletic contests if mere negligence would expose them to a lawsuit.”