Bad Judgment by Personal Trainer Causes Lawsuit


By Doyice Cotten

Many things can cause accidents in a health club – and a negligence suit is sometimes the result. Causes include equipment failure, slick floor surface, inattention of the personal trainer, carelessness by the client, and many more. In the case addressed here, the cause was largely due to the faulty judgment of the personal trainer. The following describes the events leading up to the injury of Patricia Evans in a Pennsylvania health club:

On November 12,

Personal Trainer Suit Illustrates the Need for Risk Management Training


By Doyice Cotten

It is easy to find mistakes made by personal trainers. As their popularity increases, so do the lawsuits that pop up charging them with negligence. In a recent New York case (Baldi-Perry v. Kaifas, 2015), the personal trainer made a number of mistakes that led to a $1.4 million dollar award (minus 30% for comparative negligence). In the following discussion, personal trainers should note the mistakes made by Kaifas.

Causes of Personal Trainer Lawsuits — Part II


Part II – When an Injury Occurs

By Doyice Cotten
Regardless of how careful a personal trainer is, injuries will occur. And when the injury occurs, the question becomes “What do you do now?” Do you suddenly slip on your M.D. outfit and make a diagnosis and provide a cure? Do you panic? Or do you already have an emergency action plan and simply follow that plan? The following three cases will help you to know WHAT NOT TO DO!

Causes of Personal Trainer Lawsuits — Part I


Part I – Client Medical History

By Doyice Cotten

Personal trainers should guard against the temptation to try to help every potential client. The trainer should realize that 1) some potential clients pose a significant risk for the trainer; 2) the trainer’s knowledge, experience, and ability to prescribe safe exercises for some conditions are limited; and 3) that it may be better to sometimes tell the client that you do not feel confident in prescribing an exercise program for them.

Waivers Protect Georgia Health Club and Personal Trainer


 By Doyice Cotten

A man and his wife joined a gym, signing a total of 3 waivers of liability. He began working with a personal trainer and on the day he suffered a stroke, he took a food supplement (R.A.G.E.), which he had bought elsewhere, and did a workout with the trainer. He sued the gym alleging the workout was too vigorous and sued the drug manufacturer.

The first document he signed was a membership agreement with an exculpatory agreement within it:


The Club urges you and all members to obtain a physical examination from a doctor before using any exercise equipment or participating in any exercise class.

Waiver Law in Pennsylvania: Personal Trainer vs. Licensed Physical Therapist


By Doyice Cotten

A 2010 court ruling in Pennsylvania (Taylor v. L.A. Fitness International, 2010 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 252) illustrated a difference in the effectiveness of waivers depending upon who the relying party is. The plaintiff was injured while under the care of a personal trainer provided by L.A. Fitness. She alleged that the trainer taught her an improper exercise, failed to properly assist or sport her, and that his negligence caused her shoulder injury.



By Doyice Cotten

What is Rhabdomyolysis? Regular readers of will know that this is a disease that can result from extreme exercise. The ailment is often found in sedentary adults who attempt to “get in shape” overnight. However, the disease is also found sometimes in more active and younger individuals.

There have been a number of cases in recent years in which college athletes have been afflicted. Courtney Cameron in a recent post cites a number of cases resulting from indoor cycling and spinning classes.

Understanding Pennsylvania Waiver Law

By Doyice Cotten

Evans v. Fitness & Sports Club, LLC., 2016). This week we will look at Pennsylvania law and the ruling in the previous case. To review the facts:

On November 12, 2014, Patricia Evans was participating in a personal training session at LA Fitness with personal trainer Brandon McElwee. During the session, McElwee directed Evans to perform “suicide runs,” an activity that required Evans to repeatedly run forward to a weight and touch it and then run backward to the start line.

2016 Health Club Cases in New York — No Waivers

Picture 5

By Doyice Cotten

Injuries occurring in health clubs in the State of New York can be problematic for club owners since protection against liability for negligence is ineffective in many circumstances – one being in places of amusement or recreation.  New York statute G.O.L. Sec. 5-326, passed in 1976, deems waivers void as against public policy under specific circumstances.  Specifically, the law provides:

[e]very covenant, agreement or understanding in or in connection with, or collateral to,

Liability Waivers 101 (2016)


Where there are fitness, recreation, and sport activities, there are injuries! Unfortunately, where there are injuries, there are lawsuits! Providers of these activities must take care to manage risk in two ways.  First, they should take steps to reduce the likelihood of injury as much as possible.  Secondly, they should do everything possible to protect themselves and their business entity from the risks of financial loss.  A major financial risk is that of lawsuits by parties injured while participating in fitness,