Lawsuit for Injury of a Hockey Spectator Who Was Struck by a Puck

In Petrongola v. Comcast-Spectacor, L.P., 2001 PA Super 338, 789 A.2d 204 (Pa. Super. 2001), a spectator was injured while sitting in his seat at an ice hockey game when he was struck in the mouth by a puck that traveled through a gap in the protective plexiglass surrounding the playing surface. He brought an action against the owners and operators of the ice hockey arena alleging negligence in the design and maintenance of the playing area in that its configuration deviated in some relevant way from the applicable standards. The superior court affirmed the grant of summary judgment based on application of the "no-duty" rule, stating: Being struck by a puck while seated in attendance at a hockey game is an inherent risk associated with the game. Appellant was a season ticket holder with the Phantoms. He regularly attended the games and knew that pucks can, and often do, leave the ice during play, and enter the stands. Unlike the plaintiff in Jones, the puck struck Appellant while he was seated in his regular seat, during the course of the game. That Appellant's selected seats were only partially protected by a plexiglass shield does not alter or diminish the fact that the risk of being hit by an errant puck is, as a matter of law, a "common, frequent, and expected" part of the game. Moreover, the standard enunciated in Jones is that the design must deviate from the established custom in some relevant way. Id. at 211. See also Pestalozzi v. Philadelphia Flyers, Ltd., 394 Pa. Super. 420, 576 A.2d 72 (Pa. Super. 1990) (holding that, where the plaintiff previously attended a professional hockey game and should have been familiar with the inherent risks involved, the "no-duty" rule applied to bar the negligence action of a spectator injured by an errant puck, even though he sought to avoid injury by purchasing seats behind protective plexiglass).