Knight v. Jewett – Case Brief Summary
Summary of Knight v. Jewett, 3 Cal. 4th 296, 11 Cal. Rptr.2d 2, 834 P.2d 696 (1992).
Jewett (D) ran into Knight (P) and stepped on her hand in a touch football game. Knight sued for personal injuries and Jewett claimed in defense that he had accidentally collided with her after failing to intercept a pass. The court granted Jewett’s motion for summary judgment on account of assumption of risk by the plaintiff. The Court of Appeals affirmed and the Supreme Court of California granted cert.
What is the duty of care of a participant in an active sport?
Holding and Rule
A participant in an active sport will breach his duty of care only if he injures another player intentionally or engages in conduct so reckless as to be totally outside the range of ordinary activity involved in the sport.
There are two types of assumption of risk:
- Primary Assumption of Risk: The defendant has no duty to protect the plaintiff from a particular risk.
- Secondary Assumption of Risk: The defendant owes a duty of care to the plaintiff, but the plaintiff knowingly encounters the risk of injury caused by the defendant’s breach.
In an active sport such as touch football, the only duty owed to other players is to not act in a reckless or wanton manner. Jewett’s conduct did not breach any legal duty owed to Knight and her claim is barred under primary assumption of the risk. Comparative fault (also referred to as comparative negligence) is not an issue because there was no breach of any duty of care by the defendant.
Judgment for defendant Jewett affirmed.
See Li v. Yellow Cab Co. for a law school torts case brief featuring an issue of comparative negligence in the context of a car accident.