The Supreme Court of Utah ruled last week a basketball player cannot sue his competitor over a knee injury.
The case was based on a knee injury that Judd Nixon suffered during a 2012 game at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints center in Utah County as he tried to score against another player, Edward Clay. Nixon was dribbling the basketball down the court to take a shot while Clay was chasing him from behind. As Clay closed in on Nixon’s right side, he directed his right arm over Nixon’s shoulder to reach for the ball, according to court documents. Clay’s arm hit Nixon’s right shoulder, resulting in Nixon’s left knee popping as both men fell to the ground.
The court stated that, “If participants faced liability every time contact with another player resulted in an injury, a flood of litigation would ensue.”
In a 5-0 decision released Saturday, the justices voted against liability for Clay on the basis of the inherent danger of all sports. This decision broadens the “contact sports exception,” extending limits beyond contact sports, provided that the conduct that caused the injury is inherent to the sport.