Appeals Court Affirms that University Owed No Duty to Concussed Cheerleader

(Editor’s Note: What follows is a summary of a decision involving a cheerleader and a concussion she suffered. To see the full story, subscribe to Concussion Litigation Reporter at this link – http://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

A state court judge in Pennsylvania affirmed a ruling that university should not be held liable for a concussion that a college cheerleader suffered in a training camp that was required by university.

The judge reasoned that the cheerleader failed to show that the university breached a duty regarding stunt instruction and supervision at the camp, which was conducted by Universal Cheerleader Association (UCA) at another university.

In 2010, the plaintiff was an incoming freshman at the university, where she was selected as a member of the university’s cheerleading squad coached by the head coach. Prior to starting college, she attended a pre-camp for the cheerleaders run by the coach. The cheerleaders, including the coach, then attended a mandatory camp at the other university conducted by UCA.

On August 12, 2010, while at the UCA camp, the plaintiff and three other cheerleaders were practicing a new stunt called a rewind. Three individuals at the base were to propel her upward, she would perform a tuck in the air, and the base would catch her. The UCA instructors demonstrated the stunt one or two times, breaking it down into steps, according to the plaintiff. On the first attempt, the base caught the plaintiff, but she did not fully complete the stunt. She was not sure whether her coach was present for that attempt but, she did not expect her to be there observing her group. Prior to the next attempt, she asked for more spotters in addition to the UCA instructor, and UCA brought in two cheerleaders to spot. This time, the plaintiff landed on top of her bases. While they caught her body, the back of her head hit the floor. She sustained a closed head injury, concussion, cervical strain and sprain, impaired vision in her right eye, and injuries to her jaw and neck.

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