(CN) – A New Jersey man who became a quadriplegic while auditioning for an all-terrain vehicle stunt team cannot collect damages from the ATV company, a Texas appeals court ruled.
Polaris hired a professional stunt team called the Bomb Squad in 2007 and gave the men nine vehicles with which to perform tricks and promote the company through races, videos and live demonstrations.
Robert Nicholas Donahue flew from New Jersey to Texas for an audition to join the Bomb Squad. He was experienced at riding an ATV but not at using them to perform stunts.
Bomb Squad member Caleb Moore told Donahue to perform a backflip on the ATV. Though Donahue failed, he landed safely in a pit of foam rubber.
After some instruction from Moore on how to flip the bike, Donahue tried again. He failed, and the ATV fell onto him, breaking his neck.
Donahue sued Polaris, Moore, Bomb Squad and the group’s film division, H-Bomb Films, for negligence.
A Denton County judge severed Polaris from the case at summary judgment, leading Donahue to appeal.
But the Fort Worth-based second district appeals court rejected Donahue’s claim that Polaris was negligent in entrusting its vehicles to Bomb Squad.
“The negligence that caused the accident was Moore’s failure to ascertain Donahue’s skill level before allowing him to perform the dangerous stunts,” Justice Lee Gabriel wrote for a three-judge panel. “There was no evidence that Polaris could reasonably predict that Bomb Squad members would allow anyone wanting to audition to get on its ATV and attempt the dangerous tricks that Bomb Squad performs as a profession.”