More lawsuits! Improper adjustments! This time not as naughty as you’re thinking. Can we just be happy for a moment this is not about sexual assault? OK…moving on.
It’s suddenly a rocky road for Boulder, CO studio Yoga Workshop, Richard Freeman‘s joint (he and his wife relinquished ownership and management earlier this year update: they took back ownership 9/09). News hit late yesterday that the studio is being sued by a former student due to instructor Luke Iwabuchi‘s “unsolicited physical manipulation” resulting in injuries causing “permanent disability.” yowch! Basically an unwanted adjustment gone terribly wrong, says the CA man, Robert Heit, who’s filing the suit. OK here go…we don’t know the Yoga Workshop, we’ve never experienced an Iwabuchi class, but we’ve certainly experienced plenty of adjustments in our time as yoga students, some not always what we thought as the safest maneuvering for the human body. Seriously ouch! There have also been several occasions where we wish the instructor would pleease come over and give us that extra nudge, but what are we supposed to do? snap our fingers? shout at the teach? *sigh* We digress…
So let’s break this down…
Date of Incident: approx. 4:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 2008.
The Accuser: Robert Heit, former Boulder resident now residing in Santa Rosa, CA. Other info we don’t know? Age, physical condition prior to the incident, yoga experience, etc.
The Claim: “unsolicited physical manipulation” resulting in a torn medial meniscus (that precious soft band under the kneecap – the victim of outrageously frequent sports injuries) that required surgery.
The studio should be held responsible for promoting teachers who alter clients’ yoga positions without permission — thus creating hazardous conditions, Heit asserts in the lawsuit.
“Conducting yoga classes where unsolicited physical manipulation is permitted during yoga class poses a danger of injury to patrons and students,” Heit states in the suit.
The studio “failed to exercise reasonable care in that (the studio) failed to warn or instruct against the hazardous condition or activity of unsolicited physical manipulation during the activity of yoga,” the suit claims. As a result of the studio’s failure, Heit claims he suffered “severe personal injuries, causing him extreme physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering.”
What’s at stake: Money of course, no word on how much yet. Let’s not forget Mr. Helt’s grievous pain (physical no doubt, though we have no comment on the extreme mental and emotional suffering); the livelihood of Luke as a yoga teacher; the reputation of Yoga Workshop and all those involved with the studio, including the students. Then of course there’s the potential of this setting a precedent for yoga teachers and studios all over the country should Mr. Heit be successful in court.
So many questions!
Should those waivers we sign before entering the studio serve no protection in the event of personal injury?
Wouldn’t the studio’s insurance cover something like this? We’re no lawyers, so how much could Mr. Heit possibly claim against Yoga Workshop? Knees are expensive! And has the damage already been done to their rep?
Or maybe everyone thinks this Heit guy is a money-hungry finger-in-my-chili lawsuit-monger. He claims permanent damage, which, if torn severely enough, can cause increased risk of osteoarthritis later on. But is injury something we all understand is a possibility when signing our name on the dotted line of the waiver? Is it the responsibility of the teacher? the studio? or the student?
Man, we really like CO but what’s with all the crazy yoga lawsuits coming out of that state? sheesh
Great coverage from YD pals, hometown Boulder-based elephantjournal.com
Original news story at The Daily Camera
UPDATE: To the yoga injury ‘whose fault is it’ question, elephantbeans reminded us of an interesting take on responsibility. When is it an accident and when is it negligence?