By: John T. Wolohan – December 2008
Summary: A girl’s fatal fall highlights the importance of proper supervision and medical care.
Athletics and recreation administrators have a legal duty to not only provide people using their facilities proper supervision during an activity, but also proper emergency medical care in the case of an injury. As is demonstrated in Spotlite Skating Rink Inc. v. Barnes [2008 Miss. LEXIS 322], what constitutes proper supervision and medical care will often hinge on which testimony a jury finds more credible.
On Dec. 25, 2000, 10-year-old Bianca Barnes and some friends took a bus to the Spotlite Skating Rink in Greenwood, Miss. Accounts of what happened after she arrived there vary. According to Barnes’ friends, Barnes was on the roller skating surface, without skates, and fell, hitting her head. After finding her on the floor crying and holding her head, they helped her to a nearby table, where she stayed with her head down for the rest of the evening. At no time, they claimed, were they asked by any Spotlite employees how to get in touch with Barnes’ mother, and no one from Spotlite helped them get home….
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Attorney John T. Wolohan is head of the Sport Management program at Ithaca College.