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Back to Basics: The Elements Of A Nevada Negligence Claim

Nevada Negligence ClaimSometimes it is good to get back to basics.  Let’s quickly review what it takes to prove a negligence claim in Nevada.  The case of Turner v. Mandaly Sports Entm’t, LLC, 124 Nev. 213, 180 P.3d 1172 (2008) reminds us of the elements of that cause of action.

Mr. & Mrs. Turner owned season tickets to watch the Las Vegas 51s play baseball.  They knew that batters could hit foul balls into the stands.  Like at most ball parks, the stands had screens to prevent foul balls from hitting the fans.  But Mr. & Mrs. Turner left their regular seat and went to the “Beer Garden” to get a cold beverage and a snack.  The “Beer Garden” was located in the upper concourse near the field.  Unlike the stands, the “Beer Garden” had no protective screen.  After ordering, Mr. Turner stood at the rail to watch the game.  But Mrs. Turner sat at a table and ate her sandwich.  She couldn’t see the field from where she was sitting.

A foul ball hit Mrs. Turner in the face.  She sued for injuries.  The court granted the 51s’ Motion for Summary Judgment finding that the team didn’t owe Mrs. Turner a duty of care.  In reaching its decision, the Nevada Supreme Court recited the four elements of a cause of action for negligence:

(1) an existing duty of care,
(2) breach,
(3) legal causation, and
(4) damages.

180 P.3d at 1175.

The Nevada Supreme Court went on to find that baseball stadium owners owe spectators a limited duty:

(1)  enough protected seats in which to watch the game without having to worry about foul balls, and

(2)  protection in the areas most likely to experience fouls balls (i.e. behind home plate).

By adopting this rule of “limited duty”, the Nevada Supreme Court gave Mrs. Turner a toehold.  But no sooner had the Supreme Court given Mrs. Turner hope it turned around and took it away.  The court ultimately found that because the Turners knew of the risk of foul balls and had intentionally moved from their protected seats to the unprotected the “Beer Garden”, they had impliedly assumed the risk and the duty element was thereby defeated as a matter of law.

If you have a question about negligence and duties owned to others in Nevada, please contact Mike Mills at Mills & Associates 702-240-6060×114.  Mike can also be reached via email  He will gladly respond.