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Thursday, January 15, 2015

C.J.R., ET AL. VS. G.A., ET AL. A-2771-13T3

C.J.R., ET AL. VS. G.A., ET AL.
In this case of first impression, we address the standards of tort liability to apply when a plaintiff minor is injured by another minor during the course of a youth sports activity. We adopt a "double-layered" analysis that combines the relevant principles separately pertaining to adult sporting activities and to the injurious conduct of minors.
In particular, we hold that the court must consider: (1) whether the opposing player's injurious conduct would be actionable if it were committed by an adult, based on sufficient proof of the defendant's intent or recklessness as required by the Supreme Court's case law; and, if so, (2) whether it would be reasonable in the particular youth sports setting to expect a
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minor of the same age and characteristics as defendant to refrain from the injurious physical contact.
Here, plaintiff, a twelve-year-old child playing in a recreational youth lacrosse game, was injured upon being struck on the forearm by an opposing player who was eleven years old. Plaintiff stresses that the manner in which the defendant struck him violated the rules of the game. Regardless of whether the conduct would be actionable if it were committed by an adult, we conclude that the conduct did not rise to the level of intentional or reckless behavior that could support liability of an eleven-year-old child in this youth sports setting. We therefore affirm the trial court's summary judgment order entered in favor of the defendant-minor.