California Appellate Court Determines Yoga Instructor Did Not Violate Duty of Care in Recent Personal Injury Case

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a California personal injury case involving a plaintiff who allegedly sustained a serious injury after taking a yoga class from the defendant instructor. Ultimately, the court concluded that corrections the yoga instructor made to the plaintiff’s poses during the class “were within the standard of care for yoga instructor teaching a restorative yoga class.” Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts

The plaintiff arranged to take a yoga class from the defendant yoga instructor. During the class, the defendant instructor made several corrections to the plaintiff’s poses, including pushing down on her lower back and twisting her neck. The plaintiff later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the instructor and the studio where the class was taught.

The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment and presented two witnesses who testified that it is common and expected for a yoga instructor to adjust students’ poses throughout the class. The plaintiff – who did not call any expert witnesses – objected to the defendants’ experts as “inherently unbelievable.”

The Court’s Decision

The court determined that the plaintiff failed to establish that the defendants’ conduct was a departure from the relevant standard of care expected from yoga instructors. The court explained that in cases involving the “rendering of professional services” expert witnesses are usually required to help the jury understand the norms and expectations of the industry.

Here, the court explained that because the defendants called two experts to testify that their conduct was within the relevant standard of care, it was up to the plaintiff to “contradict this evidence with competing expert testimony.” Because the plaintiff failed to present any expert testimony in support of her claims, the court dismissed her case.

In ruling against the plaintiff, the court rejected her argument that yoga instructors should not be subject to the rules for professional negligence, which normally applies to more specialized fields such as medicine or engineering. The court explained that the plaintiff was unable to point to any authority supporting her argument and that in the court’s eyes the general public does not have a knowledge of the various types of yoga practices and how each type is taught.

Have You Been Injured at the Gym or Yoga Studio?

If you have recently been injured while at the gym or yoga studio, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you’ve sustained. The case discussed above was unique in that it involved “professional” services, which was why the court held expert testimony as necessary. Many California slip-and-fall accidents occurring at gyms, yoga studios, and fitness centers will not implicate these same requirements, as these cases are brought under a traditional negligence theory of premises liability. At the Sharifi Firm, we represent clients in all types of California personal injury cases, including premises liability and professional negligence cases. To learn more, contact the Sharifi Firm at 866-422-7222 to schedule a free consultation.

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Case Reinstated Against Restaurant After Customer Bitten by Spider, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, August 23, 2018.

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