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Manning & Kass Team Achieves Dismissal in USA Water Polo Case

As the science surrounding traumatic brain injuries evolves, professional and amateur sports leagues alike have been plagued with increased exposure to civil liability. Considering current public dialogue surrounding concussions and their aftermath, the recent headline-grabbing victory of a dedicated team of Manning & Kass attorneys is all the more extraordinary.

On Wednesday, March 30th, United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford dismissed a proposed class action against the firm's client, USA Water Polo, Inc. The case stemmed from a February 2014 incident wherein a 16-year-old female goalie was struck in the face by a hard shot while playing in a youth tournament, in Los Alamitos, sanctioned by USA Water Polo. The goalie continued to play in the game after being struck and later suffered persistent headaches and other symptoms attributed to post-concussion syndrome.

Although Judge Guilford declared sensitivity to the situation, he stated that the only duty owed in a sport setting is not to increase the risks above and beyond those inherent to the sport. He further stated that the changes to the sport requested by the goalie's mother, the plaintiff, would dramatically alter the nature of the game.

The attorneys representing USA Water Polo include practice area leader of the Manning & Kass Professional Sports Law Team, Jeffrey M. Lenkov, who is prominent in the area of concussion litigation prevention and defense, and partner and Appellate Law Team member Steven J. Renick. Mr. Renick previously teamed with Mr. Lenkov to obtain a successful California Supreme Court ruling in Nalwa v. Cedar Fair L.P.,  which held that primary assumption of risk doctrine, under which participants in and operators of certain activities have no duty to protect other participants from risks inherent in the activity, protects recreational activities in addition to traditional “sports.”

Additional aspects of the USA Water Polo case were handled by members of the firm's Employment Law Team, including partner Steven C. Amundson, and associates Karen Luh and Vi Applen. The firm's "team concept," including judicious combination of our own integrated appellate law and other diversified specialists, is dramatically illustrated by the successful outcome in this case.