Personal Trainer Suit Illustrates the Need for Risk Management Training

6892341435_8e2bd895d9_mBy 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.

Linda Baldi-Perry had previous back and neck problems and surgeries before she hired Glenn Kaifas as her personal trainer. She informed Kaifas of these problems and Kaifas assured her that he had extensive experience working with clients with back and neck injuries. In fact, he held himself out to the public as being one of the number one ranked personal trainers in Western New York. She hired him and he developed an individualized program for her. After some time, the gym closed and both moved to another gym.

On a later date, she was informed that he had a new exercise routine for her. It was alleged that it was not an individualized program, but was used by a number of other clients at the gym. Alledgedly, there was competition among the personal trainers at the gym. She reminded him of her history and questioned whether the program was right for her. She alleged that he told her he was a professional, she was paying him for his advice, and that she needed to trust him because he did this for a living. She relied on his advice.

She performed the workout and suffered severe and permanent injuries. The routine consisted of three sets of five burpees, five jumping jacks, and five dead-lifts performed as quickly as possible with no break in-between. He allegedly instructed her to continue with the activity even after she complained of pain.

It was learned later that Kaifas 1) did not have a current personal trainer certification; 2) did not document or keep any records of the client’s training program; 3) had participated in no current continuing education; and 4) use no screening test such as the Par-Q.

Risk Management
The reader is encouraged to examine this case summary  and make a list of the things that should have been done differently. If you cannot find at least half a dozen mistakes made, you might consider taking another certification class or two.

Personal trainers must realize that they are in a serious business and their mistakes or bad judgment can have serious effects. Baldi-Perry has experienced pain, undergone several additional surgeries, and has been told her that further surgeries will not be able to fix all her medical issues. She will have headaches, chronic pain in her neck, radiating arm pain, and a limited range of motion in her neck for the rest of her life. Click here to read a Club Industry report of this incident.

Photo Credit: Thanks to Naval Surface Warriors    on Flickr.