January 06, 2005

Manhattan judge gives woman go-ahead to sue MSG.: How far are we from seeing the entire rink surrounded by netting, if the NHL ever comes back?

posted by MeatSaber to hockey at 07:53 AM - 21 comments

I'm not surprised that flying projectiles, moving at speeds that leave no time to see them in time to avoid getting hurt, might become a legal problem. No matter what's printed on the back of a ticket. If full netting is installed, it won't be a big deal. I saw a Stars game through the nets installed at the ends after the girl died in Columbus. It's barely noticeable.

posted by rcade at 09:07 AM on January 06, 2005

$11 million? yeesh. while I may adopt a StarFuckerish reluctance to see the need for netting after a few isolated incidents (heck, me attending a hockey game close enough to the ice to be able to be hit by a puck is an isolated incident) i do wonder about the legalese grounds used in the claim that MSG "had not given the public sufficient warning of the danger they faced or taken adequate steps to assure spectators' safety". while the latter part of the claim can be debated in court with merit i think anything short of a puck fired at your face as you walk through the turnstile could be argued to be insufficient warning.

posted by gspm at 10:46 AM on January 06, 2005

Well, I used to watch hockey games in Columbus, before and after that 14 year old girl died. Nationwide Arena is pretty steep compared to say, the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (the only other place I am old enough to remember attending). It means that flying projectiles have a lot less farther to go before they hit fans, meaning higher velocity and more damage. I always felt a little vulnerable at Nationwide (pre-netting), even though I have been playing and attending hockey games for 10 years. I never felt that way anywhere else, regardless of the level of play. After going through a season or two with the netting, I found it disappointing and distracting. Eventually one adjusts, but it is a bit unfomfortable at first, and I can never totally ignore them. It really doesn't help when people aren't paying attention to the game, either. I've seen many pucks actually dodged by fans or deflected by hands (usually as a reflex, not a well-thought out idea to stop a puck with a hand). I suppose this isn't good enough, and since some people are content to go to a hockey game for only part of a period, buy 5 beers, talk, and leave, then safety is compromised because nobody is paying attention. Insurance companies are gonna demand this change.

posted by insomnyuk at 10:55 AM on January 06, 2005

Well, if that were here the Plaintiff would face the hurdle of decisions like Modec v. City of Eveleth, a Minnesota Supreme Court case from 1947 which applied the baseball rules to getting smacked by hockey pucks: "Hockey is played to such an extent in this region and its risks are so well known to the general public that as to the question before us there is no difference in fact between the two games so far as liability for flying baseballs and pucks is involved..." I'll add another blurb from a case decided in December 2003 by the MN Court of Appeals here where the guy got smoked by a foul ball at a St. Paul Saints game while he was coming out of the restrooms (down the base line I think): "Minnesota has also applied the primary-assumption-of-the-risk doctrine to spectators injured during other inherently dangerous sporting events. See, e.g., Grisim v. TapeMark Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament, 415 N.W.2d 874 (Minn.1987) (holding that a golf tournament spectator assumes the risks inherent in being on a golf course and the only duty to the spectator is to provide a reasonably safe area to watch); Modec, 224 Minn. at 563-64, 29 N.W.2d at 456-57 (holding that summary judgment was appropriate because a spectator who was hit by a spectator puck at a spectator game assumed the risks incident to the game); Jussila v. U.S. Snowmobile Ass'n, 556 N.W.2d 234, 237 (Minn.App.1996), review denied (Minn. Jan. 29, 1997) (holding that the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk applied when a spectator outside the normal seating area was hit by a snowmobile that left the race track)" Of course if screening is provided in high risk areas and the puck goes through the screen or something that's a different story, the screening/glass/netting or whatever has to be adequate for its purpose...the entities involved try to balance the fact that spectators want areas with no screening against the competing fact that some areas, like behind the plate in baseball, absolutely need protective screening... NY is obviously different from here, but I'm not sure she's going to prevail in her suit, even though she can maintain it. I think she would not have much of a shot here in MN though, unless there is something left out of the article that would support her case more. There will probably be more protective screening as a result of this kind of thing, just like in the wake of that girl's death in Columbus. Its not a bad thing considering that new fans often don't appreciate the dangers associated with attending new sporting events, especially those with flying projectiles. I hate the screening, but I don't want some oen to be killed by a puck because I didn't want a damn net up in front of me. The legal blurbs made this a long comment, sorry.

posted by chris2sy at 11:24 AM on January 06, 2005

Safety is an illusion! Thank god US law has little precedent here, unless the NHL decides to adopt the standard across the board should the plantiff be successful. I frankly find this tiresome and a waste of resources. $11 million? I've been hit by plenty of pucks in my time. Get over it.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:18 PM on January 06, 2005

unless the NHL decides to adopt the standard across the board should the plantiff be successful. they've already adopted a standard, haven't they? the nhl requires safety netting above the glass in the ends and corners of every arena. this article is a bit more descriptive as to what happened.

posted by goddam at 01:08 PM on January 06, 2005

so, with added details (she was sitting in the 7th row, behind the net, behind the protective glass, puck hit her on the way down from somewhere) perhaps the disclaimer that "what goes up, must come down, and sometimes will come down in places where you think you are protected" can be added to the back of tickets. is there any ongoing efforts to encase the playing area in, say, a clear plastic dome? and then the puck would never leave the playing area and we'd get interesting new playing techniques. of course i also visualize the players adhering to their roles rigidly and limiting themselves to movement only up and down the ice with no back checking by the forwards.

posted by gspm at 01:56 PM on January 06, 2005

So she's behind the goal and its basically around the same time as the 13 year old girl gets struck by the puck in Columbus. From the first article it wasn't clear to me that she was behind the goal and that glass area. Since there are already nets there I thought she was seated somewhere else, but as the second article points out this is pre-nets. So, I had that wrong and by adopting a standard, I meant a new one that would require nets over in the other areas too. The second article seems to indicate that she was protected by the glass and the puck went up and over then down to her nose. Its weird that she got smacked at a game the night after the girl in Columbus was hit and killed, the article said she took it in the face on 3/17/2002 and the girl in Columbus got hit on 3/16/2002...maybe she should check out the news once in a while and she might have heard that the night before someone was injured/killed by a puck that went over the boards & glass at an NHL game. And the bubble thing reminded me of that same thing...I think the Superchexx comes with a button for boo-ing the other teams anthem...

posted by chris2sy at 02:12 PM on January 06, 2005

Here in Vancouver, they're using a thick, black netting that seriously hampers your view of the game. Frankly, I don't even see how they can justify the higher cost of the seats in those sections (as opposed to higher up, but unobstructed views). You'd think that they could install some kind of lightweight, clear or light coloured superstrong netting, but NOOOOOOOOO!

posted by filmgoerjuan at 02:25 PM on January 06, 2005

its better than a wall and a periscope...barely. I also thought that this article although somewhat old, its from the time just after the girl's death in Columbus, made me think there is more of this than I previously was aware of...that is really weird. Why do they think there are hockey players with busted teeth? Plus, does that mean there are all kinds of similar suits from people getting a line shot off of their head at baseball games?

posted by chris2sy at 02:38 PM on January 06, 2005

How in the world could a jury figure out if the 12ft plexiglas barrier is sufficient protection? Would 13ft have been sufficient? In a way the NHL has shot itself in the foot because by installing the nets at the ends of the rink they are implying the protection from the plexiglas wasn't good enough. The nets are stupid and are absolutely not necessary. They were installed to protect the league from overzealous litigation in the US... period. A warning on the ticket, over the PA & on the score board before and during the games (which they been doing for decades) with the plexiglas is sufficient. We as a society expect to be so insulated from any possible risk that we might as well just never leave the house. filmgoerjuan: They actually have used a dark and light net in Calgary. The dark net is actually much less distracting. That is the one they have stuck with.

posted by camcanuck at 02:41 PM on January 06, 2005

OK, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by my job... Me and my wife were at a game at Joe Louis once, after the nets were moved forward but before the girl was killed in Columbus, and our seats were in the row directly above the Zamboni entrance. These are a friend's seats, and we'd been in them before...this game, however, I noticed that I could see the crossbar was only slightly below the top of the glass from our angle, and a puck hitting the crossbar at the right angle could send a 100 mph slapper right at me. I told my wife that we'd need to keep an eye out during warmups, because there's a lot more than one puck flying around. When the players came out for warmups, my eyes were glued on the net, while my wife's were glued to the program she bought. She told me to look at a picture in the program, and as soon as my eyes left the net, I heard that telltale "clank." I looked immediately back to the ice, but saw no puck coming off the crossbar, so I turned back to her...just as that puck thunked off the empty seat next to her. I told her to save her little distractions until warmups were over, and my attention didn't leave the ice again. I've also noticed that it seems every person I've seen that gets hit with a puck is paying attention to something else when the puck hits them. Now, I don't know about anyone else, but when I go to a game, I watch the game. If you want to talk to me during the play, expect me to not look you in the eye...if you want my undivided attention, wait until a stoppage. I've never been hit with a puck, but I have caught a few in my day (yes, it hurts like a bitch, but the satisfaction makes up for it), and I attribute that to actually seeing the puck coming. On top of that, every arena I've been to has a disclaimer on their ticket stub about injuries resulting from flying objects coming from the field of play. And, at every arena I've been to, there are warnings announced over the PA system about pucks and sticks flying into the stands. At the Joe, they have a video they show before warmups and before each period, complete with movie clips of people getting beaned. Plus, any adult with common sense, even if they've never seen a hockey game in their lives, could expect some element of danger once they walk into the arena and see the ice surrounded by glass. After all that, if you get conked by a hunk of frozen rubber flying at you, I say Boo Frickin Hoo...watch the game instead of talking to your friend, or waving at the camera, or whatever you're doing that's diverting your attention from the game... Whew...rant over...

posted by MeatSaber at 03:42 PM on January 06, 2005

I think a lot of this revolves around your definition of a reasonable person's behavior, which is the common law definition of what is used to judge liability absent specific law (I think this is true but IANAL). So what MeatSaber and others of you have said is definitely sensible but not necessarily reasonable. One example, to expect every spectator to pay attention every single moment warm-ups are happening and not look away or be distracted is not (IMO) reasonable; again with MeatSaber's example, the team SOLD his wife the program with the expectation that she would indeed read through it during some part of the time on-ice action is occuring. $11M may be far out of whack for this instance but to hold the injured woman entirely at fault (that is, to absolve MSG of any liability) is also not reasonable.

posted by billsaysthis at 04:31 PM on January 06, 2005

I have this need to run some numbers. I guess I missed my calling as an insurance agent. Does anyone have any stats on how many people have been hurt by pucks? I'm having zero luck trying to find any. To my knowledge the girl in Columbus is the only person who has ever been killed. On average let's say there are 900 games played a season over the last 30 years. (I know there are 1230 games per year now). Let's assume that around 2000 people per game are in 'high risk' areas in the rink. Bascially a 1000 people at each end of the ice. In my mind this seems a little low, but I'll run with it. That gives us 1.8 million people in 'high risk' areas over a season. Over 30 years that's 54 million. A 1 in 54 million chance of being killed at a hockey game (assuming you're sitting in a high risk seat) is a risk I would be willing to take. If a pull a number out of the air, like 50 people hurt per year it gives us a 1 in 36,000 chance of being hurt while at a hockey game.

posted by camcanuck at 04:34 PM on January 06, 2005

I don't think these incidences are rare. I haven't found a link to an actual article, but a press release describing the article makes it seem as if serious incidents are a common occurrence.

posted by bperk at 08:11 AM on January 07, 2005

NHL? whats the NHL? is it one of those made up things like nascar!

posted by kingdavid at 03:18 PM on January 07, 2005

hay lady how did it taste. hockey sucks!!!!!!!!

posted by kingdavid at 03:20 PM on January 07, 2005

I KID I KID I joke you see

posted by kingdavid at 03:21 PM on January 07, 2005


posted by garfield at 03:54 PM on January 07, 2005

you suck garf

posted by kingdavid at 07:18 PM on January 07, 2005


posted by yerfatma at 08:18 PM on January 07, 2005

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