James Sa of Rochester Hills, MI and Red Frog Events (parent company of the Warrior Dash) have most likely reached a Warrior Race Paralysis Settlement. Sa, a former Hope College student, participated in the 2011 Flint-area Warrior Dash, held at Genesee County’s E.A. Cummings Center. When he dived into mud pit, he suffered injuries that left him paralyzed from the chest down.
No formal announcement of a settlement was made. However, the type of dismissal usually indicates a settlement, according to Chris Hastings, a professor at Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School. The case was dismiss with prejudice, meaning it can never be refiled.
“Since the case has been dismissed on the parties’ stipulation ‘with prejudice,’ it appears the only two possibilities are that the claim has been compromised and settled, or that the plaintiff has essentially swapped his judicial remedy and his tort claim for a contract claim (arbitration) that will be resolved outside of the public eye,” Hastings added. The parties involved have not commented as a non-disclosure agreement was made. This is also common in settlements between private parties.
The race should have been the standard get filthy, beat up your body, be glad you survived event. Mr. Sa signed the standard liability waiver that contained an agreement that he would not dive into or enter the final obstacle headfirst. The final obstacle is the infamous mud pit.
You don’t need to be psychic to know what happened. Sa dived into the mud pit, seriously injuring himself. On the surface, one might ask why there’s an issue. Sa made an agreement with the event organizers stating that he wouldn’t dive into the mud pit and he broke it. He waived his right to sue.
Maybe not. That particular clause is known as an “exculpatory clause.” They are commonly used in activities that might prove to be “inherently dangerous.” They don’t always work. Courts can find that these clauses are invalid, especially if they’re not made conspicuous in the waiver or violate public policy. None of that matters here. Why?
The event’s emcee apparently didn’t get the “no diving” memo. According to Sa’s suit, the emcee was actively encouraging racers to dive into the mud pit.
“The encouragement to dive into the mud pit was so pervasive that it was common knowledge amongst the race participants that not only were they allowed to dive into the mud pit, but they were encouraged to do so.”
In addition to this, Sa said he saw several other racers take the dive and that the emcee was encouraging them as well.
The dive injured Sa’s spinal cord, paralyzing him from the chest down. He was hospitalized for months after the injury due to complications such as recurrent respiratory failure and pneumonia.
This one was so avoidable on so many levels. The company could have ensured that the emcee was properly trained; racers could have ignored the emcee in favor of personal safety; Sa could have ignored the emcee and the other racers instead of following the herd; or my personal favorite that he could have slept in, bought doughnuts and watched Netflix.
It is sad though, that for want of so many easy fixes, this young man is paralyzed for the rest of his life. I do hope that the settlement, if indeed there is one, will at least take care of him.