Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois. No. 89 L 628. Honorable Lawrence Gray, Judge Presiding.
As Modified On Denial of Rehearing September 27, 1995.
Present - Honorable Michael P. MC Cuskey, Justice, Honorable William E. Holdridge, Justice, Honorable Kent Slater, Justice. McCUSKEY, J., with Slater and Holdridge, JJ., concurring.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mccuskey
UPON DENIAL OF PETITION FOR REHEARING
The plaintiff, Amy Kessling (Amy) filed this action in the circuit court of Will County seeking damages for injuries sustained at a summer camp operated by the defendant, United States Cheerleaders Association. Amy filed the action through her mother and next friend, Mary Kessling (Mary). The jury returned a general verdict for the defendant and special interrogatories indicating that both Amy and the defendant proximately caused Amy's injuries. The trial court entered judgment on the general verdict.
Amy raises three contentions on appeal. First, she claims that the trial court should have entered judgment on the special interrogatories instead of the general verdict. Second, she argues that the general verdict is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. Finally, she argues that the trial court erred when it dismissed thatportion of the complaint which sought medical expenses incurred when Amy was a minor. Based on our review of the record, we conclude that the trial court properly entered judgment in favor of the defendant based upon the general verdict. Because of our conclusion, we do not need to address the remaining issue.
The defendant is a private corporation which teaches cheerleading techniques and sponsors competitions. Amy was a member of her junior high school's cheerleading squad. In July 1987, 13-year-old Amy participated in one of the defendant's summer camps at Northern Illinois University.
During a competition, Amy attempted to execute a "toe pitch." This acrobatic maneuver requires a "base girl" to clasp her hands together and allow the other cheerleader to place one of her feet in the clasped hands. The cheerleader and the base girl execute a count. At the end of the count, the base girl hoists her hands and the cheerleader pushes off the ground with her other foot. The cheerleader then executes a back flip while in the air and lands on her feet. However, Amy could not complete the requisite maneuvers when she and her base girl, Lakeesha Drain (Lakeesha), attempted the toe pitch. As a result, Amy landed on her knee and fractured her kneecap.
Through Mary, Amy filed a one-count complaint against the defendant in the circuit court of Will County on July 25, 1989. She charged the defendant with, among other things, negligently failing to provide help in executing maneuvers, failing to teach safety techniques, and failing to determine Amy's skill level. Included in the complaint was a paragraph indicating that Amy had incurred substantial medical expenses. Amy was 15 years old when the complaint was filed.
The case went to trial on May 16, 1994. Pauline Hess, the defendant's chief executive officer, testified that the defendant offered instruction in cheerleading, tumbling and mounts. A toe pitch is an example of a mount. However, the defendant did not teach the toe pitch or any other aerial stunts to participants. Furthermore, camp participants were not required to learn or execute mounts. The competitive portions of the camps were purely optional. Participants independently developed and rehearsed their own competition routines.
Hess conceded that neither the defendant nor its employees determined Amy's skill level or the skill level of any other participant. She also said that the use of a spotter would not have prevented Amy's accident because a spotter cannot touch a person executing atoe pitch. A "spotter" is a person who helps a tumbler land safely when engaged in aerial stunts.
Jennifer Kohlar attended the defendant's camp with Amy. She said that individual team members were expected to spot their own teammates. She confirmed that the camp instructors would spot if requested. However, Kohlar also ...