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Running into the large nets seperating tennis courts when I would teach tennis at the indoor clubs as a summer job, I remember feeling like a trapped dolphin. The nets were necessary to keep errant balls (and sometime rackets !) on the proper courts. However, some indoor facilities seemed to have been built with no room between courts or poorly desinged net systems. One of my father Norman Landau’s pet peeves was the dangers presented by nets separating courts at indoor tennis facilities. He was always straightening the nets at his sports facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York City. A recent case report highlights the danger presented by such partitions.

At a New York athletic club a young man was playing basketball when his foot became caught and twisted in a partition net. The New York City Sports Club had hung the net to separate the basketball court from the weight and strength training area of the gym. The plaintiff sustained a sprained ankle and a torn meniscus. The injured athlete required athroscopic surgery on the knee injury and underwent post-operative physical therapy. Despite the knee operation, the injured gym user has residual pain and difficulty with recreational activities.

In this "premises liability case," the injured plaintiff sued the health club, alleging that its staff members were negligent in placing the net so that it draped over the basketball court, causing a dangerous condition. Since the gym’s very own employees were charged with setting the injury-producing nets, the plaintiff did not have the usual hurdles in such cases of having to prove "notice" or "prior similar events." While the injured ball player did not seek lost income, the New York jury’s verdict was for the plaintiff and against Town Sports International in the amount of $110,000.00. The parties later settled for that amount.

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