Man Receives Large Jury Verdict After Personal Trainer Drops Weight On His Face

In a recent jury trial a man was awarded  $892,650 in damages after a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness dropped a 145 lb Barbell on his face.

The plaintiff sued the trainer and the gym–24 Hour Fitness.  24 Hour Fitness moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff, Assaf Blecher, had signed a  liability waiver when he signed the membership agreement. Plaintiff’s counsel opposed the motion by alleging that the actions of the trainer and the club constituted gross negligence, which would be outside the scope of the release, pursuant to a court case called City of Santa Barbara v. Superior Court (2007) 41 Cal.4th 747,758.  The court denied the defense counsel’s motion for summary judgment.

(A summary judgment seeks a ruling that the case should not go to trial and the moving party should prevail)

It was not disputed that on Jan. 26, 2010, plaintiff Assaf Blecher’s trainer David Stevens, an employee of the gym, when the trainer dropped a 145-pound barbell on Blecher’s face.

The argument the plaintiff’s lawyers made was that Stevens’ actions constituted gross negligence in that he failed to follow safety procedures that were the standard in the fitness industry, such as gripping the barbell in the proper manner, undertaking “spotting” responsibilities for weight that was heavier than Blecher could handle at the time.  Counsel also contended that 24 Hour Fitness was grossly negligent in its failure to properly educate its trainers on safety techniques that could have prevented or minimized the risk of injury.

Stevens and 24 Hour Fitness argued that Blecher assumed the risks associated with the activities and also argued that Blecher was at least partially negligent for the accident because he did not hang onto the bar.

Blecher sustained nasal fractures and cheek bone fractures, and was subsequently transported to a hospital, where an emergency plastic surgery was performed.

The jury found Stevens and 24 Hour Fitness negligent, and awarded Blecher $892,650 in damages.  The damages verdict was divided as follows:  $142,650 for medical bills and other economic damages and $750,000 for pain and suffering.

The case was entitled Assaf Blecher v. 24 Hour Fitness USA Inc. and David Stevens, No. BC433630 and was tried in the Central Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court.

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