Connecticut Supreme Court Rules for Soccer Arena in Premises Liability Case

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1064243_65489603.jpgA woman sued a Connecticut soccer arena for premises liability after her daughter injured her ankle during a game. She claimed that the carpet used on the playing field was inherently dangerous and caused her daughter’s injury. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants, and the Appellate Court reversed its ruling. The Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Court in DiPietro v. Farmington Sports Arena, et al, reinstating the original summary judgment.

The plaintiff filed suit on behalf of her daughter, Michelle, against the arena, its owner and manager, and the carpet manufacturer. She alleged that Michelle, who was eleven years old at the time, injured her ankle during a soccer game on March 9, 2002. The arena was equipped with carpet, rather than Astroturf, on the playing field. Michelle’s foot reportedly stuck to the carpet, causing her to fall and twist her ankle. She allegedly suffered ongoing difficulties walking, as well as severe pain and emotional distress.

The arena’s owner testified that he had twenty years of experience with indoor soccer. No industry standards governed indoor soccer playing surfaces at the time of Michelle’s injury, and the defendants produced evidence showing that the carpet was widely used by indoor soccer facilities. Plaintiffs conceded that the carpet was properly installed and maintained, and had no physical damage. The plaintiffs’ expert, a professor in the faculty of kinesiology at the University of Calgary, testified that the carpet’s properties produced a high amount of traction, and therefore a greater risk of ankle injury. He admitted to the defense, however, that had no direct experience with indoor soccer and that he knew of no industry standards for playing surfaces.