Turcotte v. Fell
68 N.Y.2d 432, 502 N.E.2d 964, 510 N.Y.S.2d 49 (1986)

  • Turcotte was a professional jockey. During a race, his horse clipped Fell’s horse and he was thrown. He sued Fell for negligence.
    • Turcotte claimed that Fell was violating regulations and standards by cutting in front of Turcotte. Fell’s behavior was prohibited by rules and would have resulted in his disqualification from the race for cheating.
  • The Trial Court granted summary judgment to Fell and dismissed the case. Turcotte appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that Turcotte had assumed the risk inherent in horseracing, and that relieved other riders of any duty or any reasonable care with respect to known dangers.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed. Turcotte appealed.
  • The New York Supreme Court affirmed.
    • The New York Supreme Court found that Fell’s duty under the circumstances was to exercise due care to make the conditions as safe as they could be under the circumstances.
      • Turcotte consented to be in the race, but did not consent to acts which are reckless or intentional.
    • However, the Court found that jockeys like Turcotte are aware that horses do cut in front of one another during a race. Therefore, the risk of getting cut off and tripped up is part of the risk of being a jockey, and Turcotte implicitly consented to relieve Fell liability for crossing into his lane of travel.
      • Fell’s conduct didn’t meet the standard of being ‘flagrant’ or ‘reckless’.