“Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.” This disclaimer can be found on millions of workout DVDs and infomercials. It is meant to serve as a reminder that drastic lifestyle changes, even for the better, can be dangerous, and your doctor can help you take on the new challenges in a healthy, safe manner. But what if you are the doctor? And what if you join a health club and enlist the assistance of a paid personal trainer—a professional who is supposed to understand the body’s limits? The danger of injury is still very real, as it was exactly that situation in which a Connecticut man suffered a stroke following an intense exercise session. Earlier this year, a Connecticut Superior Court jury found the health club liable for the doctor’s injuries, returning a verdict of $14.5 million in his favor.
Pushing Through Limits
The doctor, a popular primary care physician, was 42 years old when he hired a personal trainer in 2011 at the Greenwich gym where he was a member. According to the man’s attorneys, the first four training sessions were without incident, but during the fifth, the trainer instructed the man to use a rowing machine. The trainer reportedly set the resistance on the machine to its maximum setting, and encouraged his client to do an “explosive pull.” When he did so, the doctor’s vision become blurry and he “did not feel right.” The trainer allegedly continued to push the man to finish his workout.
Later that evening, the doctor visited the Greenwich Hospital emergency room, where he was diagnosed with an arterial dissection. The man was waiting to be transferred to another medical facility when he suffered a massive stroke, causing brain damage. The injuries he sustained eventually cost him his position with his medical group. The doctor filed suit against the gym for negligent hiring, training, and supervisory practices and the trainer for negligence as well.
Respondeat Superior in Personal Injury Cases
While the doctor’s claim regarding the trainer’s negligence certainly seems reasonable under the circumstances, a principle of personal injury law known as respondeat superior projects a greater share of the responsibility onto the gym that employed the trainer. Latin for “let the master answer,” respondeat superior is typically cited in cases where an employee is acting within the scope of his employment when causing an injury to another. In many such cases, the employer is held ultimately accountable for the damages.
In this case, the court found that the trainer had not been properly trained or educated on how to help clients use the rowing machine. Despite the trainer’s claims in a deposition that he was the top trainer at that gym, he admitted in court that he had not received training on the machine and that he figured out how to use it on his own. By allowing a trainer who has not been fully educated on the safe use of gym equipment to continue to work with clients on the same equipment, the gym was guilty of negligence, at least in the opinion of the jury.
Get Help With Your Injury Case
If you have been injured by the negligence of another person, contact an experienced Hartford personal injury lawyer right away. Our knowledgeable team can help you understand your options for collecting the compensation you deserve under any legal doctrine that may apply, including vicarious liability or respondeat superior. Call [[phone1]] to schedule your free, confidential consultation at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, today.