Noffke v. Bakke

February 18, 2009


The Supreme Court of Wisconsin has ruled in the case of Noffke v. Bakke, 2009 WI 10, that a cheerleader who fell onto her head when attempting a stunt with two other students is unable to recover damages against either the cheerleader (Bakke) who failed to spot her, or the coach (who failed to supervise appropriately or provide floor matting on which to perform the stunt).

The ruling is particularly important because under Wisconstin Recreational Statute  893.80, participants of contact sports receive an immunity against negligence actions, whereas other activities do not. By deciding that cheerleading did fall under the definition of a contact sport, the court effectively immunized Bakke and the school board against any charges, as their actions were careless rather than deliberate or reckless.

It was also important to note that the court viewed the cheerleading spirit rules as discretionary, rather than mandatory guidance to be adhered to slavishly.

A .pdf file of the Supreme Court decision can be downloaded here: noffke-v-bakke


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About Kris

Associate Professor in Sports Law, Staffordshire University; British Gymnastics Senior Coach

View all posts by Kris

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