Case brought for injured cheerleader is reinstated
Jessica Sherry was badly hurt at a cheerleading camp. She was part of a group of high school girls who were practicing stunts when the girls lost focus, got distracted, and began to fool around. In violation of the rules of the camp, no instructor was present, however, one instructor became engaged sufficiently to threaten the girls with punitive laps if they did not straighten out. Left to their own devices, the girls embarked on a dangerous "throw" maneuver while continuing to engage in horseplay. The outcome was Sherry's injury. Her mother filed suit against the East Suburban Football League sponsor and others, alleging negligence.The trial court dismissed Sherry's lawsuit. It relied on the Ritchie-Gamester holding of the Michigan Supreme Court (Engler Majority) and ruled that Sherry could not pursue a claim because she could not prove "gross negligence" or "reckless misconduct." The Sherry family appealed, arguing that since the coaches and sponsors of the cheerleading camp were not "co-participants" in the cheerleading activities, they could be held responsible for ordinary negligence in failing to properly train and supervise the girls' activities.
The Court of Appeals upheld the appeal and reinstated the Sherry's case. It pointed out that there was not reason in the language of Richie-Gamester or in the underlying public policy, for granting limited immunity to coaches and other persons who conduct recreational activities.