Last Updated on October 17, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Former USC business student, Jill Johnson, has filed a lawsuit against the university and the Santa Monica Trapeze School LLC, claiming injuries sustained during a trapeze exercise required for an elective course. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges premises liability, negligence, and negligent hiring, retention, training, and supervision.
Johnson, a student at the USC Marshall School of Business, was enrolled in a course called “Fostering Creativity” when the incident occurred. As part of the curriculum, the professor scheduled a trapeze lesson at the Santa Monica Trapeze School. The lesson aimed to help students overcome their fears and find their edge.
However, Johnson expressed concerns about the weight limit for the exercise. Despite her worries, the professor reassured her that it wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, Johnson exceeded the weight limit but was still encouraged to participate by the professor.
During the trapeze lesson, Johnson and the other students were instructed to hang upside down by their knees. However, the instructors only demonstrated the exercise on the ground. Since Johnson was unable to successfully perform the exercise on the ground, she was taught a modified version that involved hanging off the trapeze by her arms and falling onto the net.
After completing the first exercise, Johnson felt shaken and started crying. Despite her condition, she was told to continue with a second exercise that involved a backflip dismount. It was during this exercise that Johnson injured her leg and experienced severe bleeding.
The lawsuit alleges that USC had a duty to not expose Johnson to unnecessary risks and to supervise and approve the curriculum of its professors. As a result of the incident, Johnson suffered physical and emotional injuries, incurred medical costs, and experienced lost earnings.
In the lawsuit, Johnson seeks unspecified damages. This case highlights the importance of ensuring student safety during elective courses and raises questions about the liability of universities in such situations. USC and Santa Monica Trapeze School LLC will have to defend themselves against the allegations of negligence and premises liability.