Despite Gym Waiver, Attorney Secures Settlement After Client’s Injury During Workout
Douglas Smith, of Glastonbury, broke his left foot after dropping this step-up machine on the floor while using it at a local fitness center. Courtesy photo
When a fitness center interior liability case was brought before the plaintiff’s attorney Stephen Sobin, he was reluctant to take the matter up.
Sobin, a partner at Brown, Paindiris & Scott in Glastonbury, knew it could be difficult to resolve premise liability cases, especially those where someone was injured from using equipment in a fitness center.
“I was reluctant to take the case. From talking to other lawyers, I know that it is difficult to resolve premise liability cases, and even more so when it comes to a fitness facility. That’s because some factors play a role in signing a waiver when you go to the gym. There is also the basic risk assumption when entering the fitness room, ”said Sobin.
But Sobin stuck with the case and, after speaking to client Douglas Smith, realized that he had a case to win.
“What I said to the defendant [Health Trax Fitness & Wellness in Glastonbury] was that Mr. Smith was employed in services with a trainer at the facility. At that point, he put his trust, health and safety in the hands of the facility, unlike someone who just goes to the gym and uses equipment there, ”said Sobin.
Sobin’s willingness to stick with the case, where he later learned a coach was involved, helped Smith reach a $ 225,000 settlement on October 30th. The case was settled with the insurance company and no lawsuit was ever filed.
Smith, a 53-year-old Glastonbury resident, broke his left foot on a step-up machine he used as part of a small group of people in a fitness class at the facility. As part of the class, Smith used one machine and then moved on to the next, Sobin said Tuesday. The incident occurred in April 2019.
“When it was my customer’s turn to step on the step-up machine, the step had not been properly secured without his knowledge and his left foot fell off the step and fell about 30 to 40 cm to the floor. The impact on the ground broke the left heel, ”said Sobin.
The actual stride is adjustable and it was “the fault of the trainer at the facility for not having the proper measures in place to ensure the stride was secured before my client used it,” said Sobin.
Sobin said Smith was in “extreme pain” immediately after the incident.
Sobin said his client had surgery within a week of the incident. The operation included repairing the left ankle fracture and inserting hardware.
Sobin negotiated the settlement with Ruth Ambrose of Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. Ambrose did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Smith, who works in the maintenance and facilities department of the school system in Glastonbury, has missed about a month of work, Sobin said.
Today, Smith, who caused about $ 45,000 in medical expenses, “has regular residual pain and scars from surgery,” Sobin said.
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