Fort Wright Office Wins Defense Verdict in Negligence Suit
Fort Wright Partner Judd Uhl and Associate Benjamin Hoffman recently obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a fitness center accused of negligence, consumer fraud, and the illegal practice of medicine.
The plaintiff received exercise, nutrition, and supplementation advice from two trainers at the fitness center, but sued seeking seven figures in damages after going into renal failure two months after joining the gym, claiming the fitness center’s advice had caused her injuries. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the fitness center’s advice was negligent, constituted consumer fraud, and amounted to the illegal practice of medicine under Kentucky law.
After the plaintiff’s case-in-chief, the court granted a directed verdict for the fitness center on the plaintiff’s consumer fraud and illegal practice of medicine claims. The court held that the plaintiff had not met her burden on the consumer fraud claim because she could not show any fraudulent misrepresentation or reliance as required under Kentucky’s consumer fraud statute.
Similarly, the court held that the plaintiff had not met her burden on the illegal practice of medicine claim because nutritional and supplementation advice does not constitute the illegal practice of medicine under Kentucky law. Furthermore, the court ruled as a matter of law that only individuals, and not businesses or corporations, can be held liable for the illegal practice of medicine under Kentucky law, a ruling that is the first of its kind in Kentucky and may have far-reaching implications for similar claims against hospitals and other institutions in the state.
During a four-day trial on the plaintiff’s remaining negligence claim, her counsel argued that the fitness center was required to have signed documentation from a doctor that she was able to work out when they became aware that she was a Type 1 diabetic. They further argued that a fitness trainer should know that vitamins high in vitamin C should not be recommended to a diabetic because diabetics are at greater risk of kidney disease.
After less than a half hour of deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict, holding that the fitness center did not breach its duty of care by providing exercise, nutrition, and supplementation advice to the plaintiff. After finding that the fitness center did not breach its duty, the jury was not required to address the matter of causation and damages.