Case Study: Bukowski V. Clarkson University

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Bukowski v. Clarkson University In 2012, the case of Bukowski v. Clarkson University made it all the way to the highest New York state court. This case involved the plaintiff, Shawn Bukowski, suing his school on the grounds of negligence by the defendant (Lippman, 2012). Shawn Bukowski was a pitcher for the baseball team at Clarkson University, where, during an indoor practice, was hit by a line drive in the jaw and sustained an injury. Bukowski felt that Clarkson University and their baseball coach had acted negligently and put him in unreasonable risk of harm, because there were conditions on the field that enhanced his risk to sustaining this type of injury (Lippman, 2012). This lawsuit was dismissed on grounds of assumption of risk in …show more content…
To prove negligence in a tort case, Bukowski had to show the four elements of negligence: Standard of care, breach of duty, causation, and injury. Standard of care consists of the sport entity (Clarkson University’s baseball coach) to provide a safe environment for those under their care. Bukowski claimed that the environment he was participating in was not safe for multiple reasons. He claimed the backdrop for the pitcher was multi-colored, which made it difficult to see the ball coming at him. He also claimed that the lighting in the facility was low, making it even harder to see a ball coming towards him. Finally, the coaches did not make him use an L-screen, which protects pitchers from balls batted back at them (Lipmman, 2012). Next, Bukowski needed to show that Clarkson University breached their duty towards him. This essentially means that he had to show that the coach put him in a position of unreasonable risk of harm, and whether there were any policies or regulations by any entities that were breached. He argued that the coach putting him in that position without the L-screen and poor lighting was a position of unreasonable risk of harm. The most crucial element is causation (Lecture Notes). Bukowski needed to show that because of the actions, or …show more content…
This made it impossible for the court to find a breach of duty by the defendants in their standard of care. If there was a rule by the NCAA that required the use of L-screens or dark backdrops in indoor baseball facilities, I believe the plaintiff in this case would have had a much better chance, and might have won the case. If that rule were in place, there would be a clear standard of care required by the defendant to provide and make pitchers use an L-screen, and a breach of duty for not making him use an L-screen, and the same thing could go for a multi-colored backdrop. Causation would not be hard to prove either, due to the ability of an L-screen to block line drives at pitchers, and as already stated, injury was apparent. The issue would be that Bukowski still appeared to assume risk by voluntarily pitching. There is no evidence that the coach forced him to pitch without the L-screen, so they could still argue implied assumption. In this situation, I could see contributory negligence coming into consideration, where the court would consider the negligent behavior of the plaintiff (Spengler, 2016). In this scenario, they might argue that Bukowski would have acted negligently for not bringing out the L-screen. Seeing as this is an absolute defense, he might still have lost. On the other hand,

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