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Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co.

Citation. 250 N.Y. 479, 166 N.E. 173 (N.Y. 1929)
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Brief Fact Summary.

A man fractured his knee cap while on a Coney Island ride called “The Flopper” whose purpose in jerking about was to make ride-goers fall down.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

An individual who participates in a ride he reasonably knows to be dangerous accepts risks associated with the ride to the extent that the risks are obvious and necessary.


Murphy visited the Steeplechase Amusement Part with his friends. They came across The Flopper, a ride that consists of a moving belt that jerks at various speeds, causing participants to flop onto padded surfaces. After surveying the ride for a bit, Murphy and his friends joined in.

Upon stepping onto the ride, Murphy experienced a sudden jerk and was thrown to the floor, causing a fracture to his knee cap. Murphy sued, arguing that the belt was “dangerous to life and limb” and that it operated at a fast and dangerous rate of speed that was not supplied with a proper railing, guard, or other device to prevent a fall.


Should Steeplechase Amusement Co. be held liable for Murphy’s injury that resulted from a reasonably foreseeable risk of participating in the ride?



No. Steeplechase Amusement Co. should not be held liable for Murphy’s injuries because they resulted from a reasonably foreseeable risk of participating in the ride.


The moving belt was functioning properly with no disruptions to its power source. But regardless of the speech and movement of the belt, the greatest hazard to be expected was a fall. Murphy knew what he was getting into when he observed people getting jostled around on the ride.

This would be a different case if the dangers of The Flopper were difficult to perceive, were so serious as to justify additional precautions to prevent such injuries, or were so many as to show that the game was inherently dangerous. In fact, while some had been lightly injured, there was no evidence that anyone else had suffered broken bones as a result of The Flopper. Holding The Flopper to its light injuries would be the same as holding a skating rink liable for slips and falls on the rink.

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