AP reported that a woman died Sunday, February 21, 2010, at a NHRA Arizona Nationals drag race in Chandler, AZ, when a tire came loose from a dragster that went out of control and crashed.
Recent posts have centered on the "assumption of the risk" by participants in sports. What about the spectators at sporting events? Are they taken, under the law, to have assumed the risk of spectating? If one attends a hockey game, does one assume the risk of being struck by a puck? How about baseball? Some foul balls are line-drives into the stands along the first and third base lines. If one attends a golf match, does one assume the risk of being struck by an errant golf shot?
The answer is "Yes", New York Courts long ago considered these issues. The famous quote of Judge Cardozo from the "Flopper" amusement ride case is: "The timorous should stay at home...".
"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" (Murphy v Steeplechase Amusement Co., NY Court of Appeals (1929).
Query, does a spectator at a NHRA drag race appreciate or accept the danger that she could be injured by a tire or other piece of a dragster that came loose and airborne? Is a loose tire becoming a volatile projectile a forseeable event? How often does that occur? Should the owner/operator of the facility have erected barriers to protect race patrons? Where in the facility was this unfortunate woman when she was struck by the tire?
It appears that this matter, should it be pursued, will be "fact driven".