It was a case that could have dramatically impacted the way spectators were protected from flying pucks at hockey games: a fan suing the Belfast Giants and Odyssey Arena for negligence after being struck in the head during warm-ups back in 2008, when she was 12.
But on Tuesday, the now-18 year old lost her case against the Giants, as a High Court ruled against her £30,000 ($49,596 US) claim.
It would have been the first time in a fan successfully litigated a case against a pro hockey team in the U.K. for getting injured by an errant puck.
As Justice Gillen ruled, via the Belfast Telegraph:
"The risks were no different from those which exist in a number of other sporting arenas including field hockey, football, cricket, rugby or golf.
"Such risks are amongst the jolts and jogs to be expected of sporting life."
"The plaintiff was injured as the result of a danger inherent in the sport itself which she must be taken to have accepted and against which the defendants cannot reasonably have expected to guard."
The judge noted a “plethora” of warning signs and announcements at the game, and dismissed the notion that two known injuries from flying pucks in 14 years, according to testimony from the Giants’ GM, constituted “a case of relentless occurrence."
Had the Giants lost the suit, the team – and others in the U.K. – may have been required to encase the entire rink in protective netting to ensure pucks didn’t fly into the crowd. Instead, it was ruled that the Giants had followed IIHF safety standards and provided fair warning to the fans.
- Sports & Recreation
- Belfast Giants