Case details

Athlete: Race organizer did not inform him of change in course





Result type

Not present

chest, fracture, rib, shoulder
On June 1, 2014, plaintiff Craig Blanchette, 46, a former Olympian and a pioneer in wheelchair racing, competed in the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in San Diego. Blanchette had just descended a long hill on Park Boulevard, in San Diego, and made a right onto B Street. He then made a left onto 11th Avenue, expecting to have the entire width of the street to maneuver his wheelchair through the turn. However, organizers had eliminated one lane on the far side of the street. As a result, Blanchette was going about 20 mph and had no time to adjust when his wheelchair slammed into a car, his ribs and right shoulder. Blanchette sued the organizers of the race, Competitor Group Inc., Suja Life LLC and Race Central LLC. He alleged the defendants failed to warn racers about the lane, creating a dangerous condition. The matter ultimately continued against Competitor Group only. Blanchette claimed that Competitor Group changed a portion of the course on the morning of the race, — on 11th Avenue, near B Street — but did not inform him about the change, which reduced the number of lanes available to racers from four to three. He claimed that while the course organizers had a map showing the change, it was not shown to the racers. Defense counsel contended that the city of San Diego told Competitor Group that it had to keep a lane open for traffic. Counsel also argued that that the accident was Blanchette’s fault, as he should have toured the course the day before to familiarize himself with it. Thus, counsel argued that Blanchette was at least contributorily negligent. In addition, defense counsel argued that Blanchette assumed the risk of injury by participating in the marathon, and that Blanchette had signed a waiver and release., Blanchette sustained fractured ribs, a fracture of the right collarbone, and a tear of the right shoulder’s rotator cuff. He was subsequently taken to a hospital immediately after the accident and he ultimately underwent a surgery to repair the rotator cuff. Blanchette had an elite racing career, one that had earned him plaudits and had taken him around the world. He also set 21 different world records during his career. However, he claimed the collision ended his career as an elite racer, as doctors told him he would not be able to train hard enough to resume an elite racing career. As a result, Blanchette is now a health coach, and does some hand cycling when he can. Blanchette waived his medical costs, but sought recovery for his past and future loss of earnings. He also sought recovery of damages for his past and future pain and suffering.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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