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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

MMA Move Could Leave School Liable to Student

(CN) - Ramapo schools could be liable to a girl who broke her leg in an allegedly spontaneous mixed martial arts competition, a New York appeals court ruled.

Angela Pierre blames her injuries on the self-defense class she took at Suffern High School in 2010 to fulfill her 11th grade physical education requirement.

Last year the Rockland County Supreme Court denied summary judgment to the Ramapo school district, and a three-judge panel with the Appellate Division's Second Judicial Department affirmed on Jan. 14.

While Pierre's 2010 complaint in Rockland County Supreme Court says that class activity "resulted in a 'free for all' contact," the ruling says Pierre was allegedly injured while competing in her school's self-defense tournament.

Pierre claims that her self-defense class was actually a mixed martial arts class that her teacher, Joseph Biddy, was unqualified to supervise.

Though Ramapo schools say that Pierre assumed the risk of injury when she entered the tournament, the Brooklyn-based appellate panel said the student may show that those risks were "concealed and unreasonably increased."

"Biddy's deposition testimony indicated that while the self-defense class incorporated moves from various martial arts forms, including karate, tae kwon do, judo and jiu jitsu, Biddy had no certifications in any of these martial arts and had very little martial arts training," the unsigned opinion states.

Biddy, Pierre and Pierre's opponent all testified that "the move" that injured Pierre was popularized in Ultimate Fighting competitions, but that Biddy had not taught it to his class, according to the ruling.

The deposition testimony also suggests, however, that "students had been using this move ... in class and during the competition, and that Biddy was aware of this fact."

A recording of Pierre's match shows "that 17 seconds into the bout, Biddy observed the infant plaintiff's opponent use this move," the ruling states. "Notwithstanding Biddy's professed safety concerns about using this move in the manner that it was executed, Biddy admitted during his deposition that he neither stopped the bout at that point nor warned the student not to use the move."

Pierre was hurt when her opponent used the move a second time near the end of the 90-second fight, according to the ruling.

Neither the ruling nor the complaint specify the name of the UFC move.

Pierre's attorney, Jeffrey Saunders, said in an interview that his client suffered a snapped femur when her opponent tried use a tae kwon do-style takedown.

"It was not done correctly," he said.

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