Missouri Jury Rules Against Crossfit, Inc. in Specious Personal Injury Lawsuit
There have been numerous attempts to paint crossfit workouts as extremely dangerous. Nevertheless, CrossFit Inc. has only been the subject of a personal injury lawsuit on two occasions . Most recently, CrossFit, Inc. was accused of placing crossfit participants at extreme risk in a Houston based rhabdo case. The plaintiff claimed that CrossFit, Inc. knowingly subjected participants to workouts that were poorly designed. The case was ultimately resolved in favor of CrossFit, Inc. and its affiliate.
A CrossFit, Inc. official insisted that they have not found it necessary to settle legal disputes out of court to avoid bad publicity. The official said that there really haven’t been that many lawsuits to defend. Moreover, a number of summary judgments have cleared CrossFit, Inc. of any wrongdoing. The courts have consistently maintained that CrossFit is not legally liable for injuries suffered by crossfit program trainees.
CrossFit’s leadership is willing to go to great lengths to defend its brand against specious lawsuits. Specifically, CrossFit’s Risk Retention Group has implemented a strategy that emphasizes vindication of its crossfit programs and related affiliates rather than saving money. Most personal injury lawyers realize that the vast majority of injury claims aren’t worth the cost of going to trial.
Barrish vs. CrossFit
There is always risk associated with going to trial, but it’s a risk that CrossFit, Inc is willing to take. In Barrish vs. CrossFit Inc., for example, Crossfit, Inc. and its affiliate were both found 25 percent liable for an injury suffered by a CrossFit trainee. The Missouri jury assigned the other 50 percent of the liability to the plaintiff. A CrossFit, Inc. spokesperson reacted to the unusual verdict by insisting that there was no evidence to indicate that CrossFit or its affiliate should have been found liable for the plaintiff’s injury. CrossFit plans to appeal the verdict.
The Barrish vs. CrossFit personal injury claim resulted from an injury suffered by Jonas Barrish in 2012. After showing up late for a crossfit class, his coach instructed him to perform a modified deadlift workout with a 165 pound barbell. Not only did Barrish ignore the coach’s instructions, he decided to try a series of max deadlifts.
Although Barrish managed to perform a 300 pound deadlift, a new personal record, his coach noticed what he was doing and instructed him to cease working out and remove the weights from the bar. Barrish once again ignored his coach and increased the weight on the bar to 350 pounds. He hurt his back when he attempted to perform the 350 pound deadlift.
Barrish ultimately filed a personal injury lawsuit against CrossFit, Inc. and its affiliate. Barrish’s attorney claimed that the affiliate had failed to properly train Barrish to perform the 350 pound deadlift. The Missouri jury assigned 50 percent of the liability to CrossFit and its affiliate for Barrish’s injury even though there were no witnesses to corroborate Barrish’s claims.
Judge and Jury
The Barrish vs. CrossFit trial was presided over by Judge John Torrance, who has been accused of professional improprieties and questionable legal practices on numerous occasions. Aside from several jurors sleeping through most of the trial, it seems that the jurors recognized that they would have to craft a compromise verdict so that they could be released from jury duty and not have to return to the deliberation room on the following Monday. Considering the fact that Judge Torrance made similar comments during the trial, it wasn’t at all surprising that the jury followed suit, so to speak. It’s not at all unusual for the members of a jury to be influenced by the words and attitudes of the judge in a civil case.
It was surprising that the Missouri jury failed to consider factual evidence that Barrish was specifically instructed to stop working out. The jurors agreed that the affiliate coaches that were on duty when Barrish was injured were qualified to fulfill the obligations of a crossfit coach. The jurors also agreed that the deadlift is a good exercise and that the lift was properly taught. Such are the risks associated with jury trials. Not only does CrossFit, Inc. intend to appeal the Barrish vs. CrossFit decision, CrossFit will continue to oppose specious lawsuits that improperly seek financial awards for injuries that are clearly the fault of the plaintiff.