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Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co.

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Brief Fact Summary.

Murphy (Plaintiff) fell and was injured on a ride owned by the Steeplechase Amusement Co. (Defendant).

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A defendant is not liable for injuries to a plaintiff that result from a foreseeable risk of participating in the ride.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

One who takes part in such a sport accepts the dangers that inhere in it so far as they are obvious and necessary, just as a fencer accepts the risk of a thrust by his antagonist or a spectator at a ball game the chance of contact with the ball.

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Facts.

Murphy (Plaintiff) visited the amusement park owned by Steeplechase Amusement Co. (Defendant). Plaintiff went on a ride called “the Flopper” which had a moving belt going upward. Plaintiff saw others in front of him in line fall on the ride before he got on. When Plaintiff stepped onto it, it jerked and he fell. The fall fractured Plaintiff’s kneecap.

Issue.

Is Defendant liable for Plaintiff’s injuries arising from a foreseeable risk of a ride?

Held.

No, the Court held Defendant is not liable for Plaintiff’s injuries resulting from a foreseeable risk of the ride.

Discussion.

The Court reasoned that Plaintiff had notice of the risks of riding “the Flopper” from the name and seeing others fall on it. Falling was a foreseeable risk because it was the whole point of the ride. By taking part in the ride, Plaintiff had accepted the obvious dangers of it.

However, Plaintiff also argued that the padding to break his fall was deficient. Since the jury did not decide on this issue, the Court reversed and granted a new trial.


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