New Jersey Mother Sues After Being Paralyzed In Obstacle Course Race

By Greg Kohn

Can a recreational event organizer or sponsor be held liable when a participant who signed a release is injured?

When a 40-year-old Morris County, New Jersey mother of four entered the Spartan Race at Citi Field, she expected a physically challenging obstacle course. She did not expect that her participation would lead to the nightmarish challenge of nearly complete paralysis.

Volunteer’s Interference May Have Caused Tragedy

Ampara Colon was about to skip the monkey bar section of the race, but a race volunteer “encouraged and demanded” that she finish it before proceeding to the next obstacle. According to her personal injury lawsuit against the race organizers and sponsors, she placed her legs on a race volunteer’s shoulders, but the volunteer fell. His fall sent Colon plummeting to the padded mat where she landed on her neck and fractured her spine.

She is now living in a rehab facility and may never walk again. She has sued a number of defendants, including NBC Sports, Reebok, and Spartan Race, Inc.

Can Race Participants Waive The Right to Sue?

Ms. Colon signed a liability waiver before entering the race, but it may not be enforceable. She contends that, when signing it, she had no reason to believe that a volunteer would interfere with her performance in the race.

Such releases from liability can be enforceable, depending on the activity, when they are clear and unambiguous. But they do not apply to all kinds of recreational activities and may not apply to Ms. Colon’s participation in the Spartan Race.

What Should You Do If You Were Injured Despite Signing a Liability Waiver?

If you or a loved one were injured in a recreational activity, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against the organizers of the activity or the owners of the premises, based on their negligence or recklessness. This may be true even if you signed a release ahead of time. Your first step should be to contact an experienced personal injury for a consultation. Your attorney can review your waiver and the circumstances of the accident and assess the strength of your case.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.