A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Mere Sponsorship of an Event Held to be Insufficient to Impose Liability for Personal Injury

By on December 9, 2016 in Liability with 0 Comments

Plaintiff Rosa Sands was injured when she fell down an approximate 2 foot embankment after leaving a dinner party on a beach in Mexico. The dinner party was part of a promotional event known as “Raise the Bar” offered by certain defendants, including Reebok International and Adidas American, Inc. (the “Reebok defendants.”) In Sands v. Grupo Posada S.A. de C.V., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65769 (D.N.J. May 19, 2016), the Reebok defendants filed an initial motion to dismiss, arguing that, as a mere sponsor of the event, it did not owe a duty to plaintiff.

Plaintiff’s daughter brought the Plaintiff to this vacation/event. Plaintiff claimed that dangerous and hazardous conditions existed on the premises and that the Reebok defendants “organized, supervised, maintained, controlled, cared for, possessed, and managed the dinner party including the area of the premises where Plaintiff fell.” Further, she alleged that the Reebok defendants “highly recommended” the premises by offering an all-expenses paid trip. Hence, Plaintiff contended that the Reebok defendants had a duty to inspect the premises to insure they were reasonably safe and a duty to warn of any hazardous and/or dangerous conditions on the premises.

The Reebok defendants, however, argued that they did not owe the Plaintiff a duty of care that would support a negligence claim under a premises liability theory. They argued that “mere sponsorship of an event, absent possession or active control over the event or over the property, does not render a defendant legally responsible.”

Both parties agreed that New Jersey applied and that the controlling case was Bango v. Carteret Lions Club, 12 N.J. Super. 52 (App. Div. 1951). Based upon Bango, a person who induces others to come upon his premises is under a duty to exercise reasonable care for their protection. But, for the defendant to be held liable, it must be shown that they had such a degree of control that they could have averted the danger or such superior knowledge that they should have foreseen and warned plaintiff of a danger that was not apparent to plaintiff. However, no liability exists where a defendant “did no more than sponsor and advertise an event – but have not exercised any authority or control over the conduct of the event.”

Here, the Court found that the plaintiff failed to assert that the Reebok defendants had a sufficient degree of control that it could have averted the alleged danger. The mere allegation that the Reebok defendants “organized, supervised, maintained, controlled, cared for, possessed and managed the dinner party including the area where Plaintiff fell” was insufficient to establish a premises liability cause of action against the Reebok defendants. Accordingly, the Court dismissed this cause of action.

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Betsy G. Ramos

About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 25 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

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