Posted On: July 24, 2012 by Mark A. Eskenazi

Sports Injuries: Watch the Birdie

New York Appellate Division, Second Department: Gibbons v. Pine Bush Central School District

One tends not to think of badminton as a contact sport, but apparently dangers lurk on the court.

Plaintiff was playing badminton during gym class and testified that the strategy is to “spike the shuttlecock” away from your opponent so there will be no return volley. While badminton may not be as fast-paced as tennis, the object is largely the same: win the volley with force and accuracy. Unfortunately, even in a badminton, accuracy is often sacrificed for force and speed. And when that happens, so too do errant shots, one of which struck the infant plaintiff in the eye injuring her. (It is worth noting that the when struck with a racket, no matter how the birdie begins its assent, it always reorients to a cork-first profile and can be returned at an initial speed off the racket of nearly 200 mph and thus has the potential to injure if it hits an opponent just right).

The infant’s father brought this action against the School District alleging the injury was caused by its negligence. The school district’s motion for summary judgment was denied and this appeal followed.

Because even badminton can be a fast paced game and a wild return can just happen, the father’s claim alleging lack of supervision did not fly. No one can be expected to supervise in such a way as to prevent a bad shot off the racket. The only thing left was plaintiffs’ claim that protective eye gear should have been required. That plaintiffs’ expert made the claim did not make it so. The use of eye protection for badminton was not “a generally accepted standard or practice in high school.” Accordingly, the Second Department flipped plaintiffs back the birdie and dismissed the case.

The accident was no one’s fault.

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