This case raises some very interesting questions and debates among attorneys, club owners and us insurance guys. Given the monetary demand by the husband, I fully expect the insurance company to fight this case and attempt to preserve the integrity of Crunch Fitness and its trainers. Some of the questions I think will be raised include the following:
1. Is it fair to assume that a fitness trainer knows how supplements affect an individual with high blood pressure? To what extent did the trainer and club know about the woman’s medical history?
2. Since the products in question are readily available at any nutrition center and are not technically considered “drugs,” did the trainer simply “recommend” the supplements, rather than “prescribe” their use? Prescription vs. recommendation is a huge issue in this case.
3. Did Crunch’s waiver and membership agreement warn that engaging in any exercise routine is potentially dangerous and that members should check with their physicians before starting a program?
4. Since the supplements in question are not “prescription” drugs, is it not ultimately left up to the consumer to decide whether to take them?
5. What was the definitive “proximate” cause of death? Can it clearly be tied to a specific product or products?
6. In the absence of any industry standard for personal trainers, what is the basis for any allegation of improperly failing to warn a client about the effects or dangers of supplements?
These are only a few of the arguments that will inevitably surface during this litigation — reasonable arguments to be countered by reasonable responses, decided by a jury of reasonable individuals. Reasonable individuals? This is where the case could get messy. Picture this scenario: According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, nine out of 10 able-bodied Americans have never been a member of a health club. What kind of individuals do you expect will be sitting in the jury box? What do think their perceptions of our industry are even before the trial begins? Have you ever seen the Crunch Workout on cable T.V. that airs every weekday morning? How many of the jury members do you think can relate to those “hardbody” high-spirited participants jumping around in scant workout attire?
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