Lewis Brisbois California Team Reverses $2.65 Million Judgment in Cheerleading Stunt Case

San Diego, Calif. (April 9, 2020) - San Diego Appellate Practice Partners Jeffry A. Miller, Brittany B. Sutton, and Lann G. McIntyre, along with Los Angeles Partners Craig L. Dunkin and Judith J. Steffy, recently secured a significant victory for their client, a production company, when a California appellate court reversed a judgment following jury verdict of $2.65 million initially entered against the company because the jury was not provided with an essential instruction.

The plaintiff in this matter, a former college cheerleader, broke her elbow when she was rehearsing a “half-elevator” cheerleading stunt for a film about the exploitation of women in cheerleading. Our client, Connect the Dots, Inc., produced the film. 

Following the accident, the plaintiff underwent surgeries to repair her injury, and subsequently sued our client for negligence. At the conclusion of a trial, the jury awarded her approximately $2.65 million for economic losses and pain and suffering. We appealed.

On appeal, the court determined that the jury should have been instructed on “the primary assumption of risk doctrine,” which provides that no duty of care is owed for the risks inherent in a sport or activity, and which bars any recovery by a plaintiff. According to the court, the jury needed to receive an instruction on this doctrine so that they could determine whether the plaintiff’s injury resulted from the inherent dangers of cheerleading. Because the lower court failed to provide this essential instruction, the appeals court vacated the jury verdict and ordered a new trial.

Further details of this case are available in the Law360 article titled “Injured Cheerleader’s $2.6M Trial Win Scrapped On Appeal” (subscription required).

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