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In an interesting twist on a personal injury lawsuit that resulted in a $16.3 million jury verdict last year against Flex Fitness, Flex founder and defendant Mark Nalley has joined with the plaintiff and the gym where the incident happened as plaintiffs against Flex’s insurance company Atlantic Mutual.
In addition, Atlantic Mutual is appealing part of the July 2003 verdict by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury trial that lasted 23 days, as well as the indemnification the judge allowed the gym. Meanwhile, the $16.3 million verdict was stayed by the court in August 2003 as appeals progress.
In the case, Harold Leon Bostick had sued Flex in April 2001, charging that a defective and dangerous design on the company’s Smith machine in the Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach, Calif., caused him — then 31 and a first-year law student — to have a crushing spinal injury and be rendered a quadriplegic.
After the verdict, Nalley had told SNEWS (see SNEWSÂ® stories, July 31 and Aug. 29, 2003) that insurance companies are bound by law to protect their clients, and if a verdict is higher than the company’s policy (in this case, $1 million) and the insurance company declined to discuss a possible earlier settlement, the insurance company could be responsible for payment, not the defendant (Flex).
The case against Atlantic Mutual that brings together defendants Nalley, Gold’s and Flex and plaintiff Bostick is for “bad faith representation” and “lack of protection,” Nalley has said.
Nalley has called this case and verdict “wake-up calls” for the fitness industry. Not only did he discover that informational stickers and material on machines mean nothing, he said, but also that no governing bodies or legislation protects the fitness industry as does, for example, the automobile industry.