Court Discusses Instructor’s Duty and Potential Liability in Recent Yoga Injury Case

In a recent personal injury opinion, a state appellate court discussed the duty that a yoga instructor owed to the plaintiff, who was taking a class from the instructor when she was injured as the instructor adjusted her during a pose. The case is important for Virginia personal injury victims because it illustrates the type of analysis a court engages in when evaluating whether a defendant breached a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff took a yoga class that was taught by the defendant instructor. During the class at several different times, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant instructor made several adjustments to her body that caused her pain. These adjustments included putting a belt around the plaintiff’s waist to pull her hips in line, applying downward pressure on her lower back while in “cow” pose, and twisting her neck to both sides.

At the time, the plaintiff did not tell the defendant that the adjustments were causing her pain, nor did she ask him to stop. Later, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the instructor as well as the yoga studio.

The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, presenting the testimony of two expert witnesses. One expert, an orthopedic surgeon, testified that the plaintiff’s injuries were due to chronic degenerative disc disease, and not a trauma that she suffered during the yoga class. The other expert, a psychotherapist and yoga instructor herself, testified that the defendant instructor’s adjustments were within the standard of care for an instructor who teaches a restorative yoga class, and that making adjustments was a normal part of any yoga practice.

The plaintiff opposed the motion, but did not offer any expert testimony in support of her position. Instead, she argued that the experts were “inherently unbelievable.”

The lower court granted the defendants’ motion, and that decision was upheld on appeal. The court explained that when a plaintiff brings a case requiring the fact finder decide whether the defendant breached a professional duty of care, expert testimony may be necessary when the issues involved are beyond the common understanding of the jurors.

Here, the court explained, the scope of the duty a yoga instructor owes to his students is within the class of issues requiring expert testimony. Indeed, the court noted that the defendants presented expert testimony in support of their position, and it was then up to the plaintiff to do the same. Because she failed to do so, the court held that she could not establish that the defendants breached a duty she was owed. Thus, the defendants’ motion was properly granted.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Virginia personal injury accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the type of injury you sustained and how it occurred, you may be required to present expert testimony in support of your claim. The dedicated Virginia personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Charles B. Roberts, P.C. have extensive experience handling all types of Virginia personal injury claims, and have a broad network of experts with whom they consult with when necessary. To learn more, call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation today.

See More Blog Posts:

Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Case Against City Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Show the City Knew of the Hazard, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, August 6, 2018.

Court Discusses Whether Employer’s Insurance Company Was Liable for Damages Caused by Employee’s Drunk-Driving Accident, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, August 31, 2018.