By David Siegel
CVN screenshot of CrossFit attorney Kevin Williams delivering his opening statement
St. Louis, MO – A Missouri state court jury cleared CrossFit Inc. of all liability on Friday in a lawsuit filed by a personal injury attorney who claimed that a weightlifting coach’s inadequate training caused her to suffer a herniated disc.
Plaintiff Julia Kerr, a personal injury attorney, sought $3 million in damages after performing a “deadlift” exercise in a gym offering the CrossFit training regimen, a popular fitness program that involves motivational coaches encouraging clients during their workout. She claims her coach instructed her to perform the deadlift too quickly and in an unsafe manner, and that the incident was the first time she had ever attempted a deadlift.
CrossFit denied any responsibility for Kerr’s herniated disc, arguing that she didn’t seek medical attention until five weeks after the incident, and that when she did tell her doctor about back pain she made no mention of her time at the gym. The company’s lawyers told jurors that Kerr had prior back problems she did not disclose to her coach, and that if she had she would never have been allowed to perform the deadlift.
CrossFit’s regimen is used in over 10,000 “affiliate” gyms worldwide, but there have been relatively few trials seeking to hold CrossFit as a corporate entity responsible for the actions of staff in those independently owned and operated locations. Another Missouri jury delivered the first verdict against CrossFit in such a case in 2016, awarding $400,000 at a similar deadlift-related trial.
Kerr was represented by Rob Sullivan of Sullivan Law LLC.
CrossFit was represented by Kevin Williams and and Anna Indelevich of Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial LLC, and by Nathan Leming of Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice LLC.
The weeklong trial took place before Judge Christopher McGraugh. The full proceedings were webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network, and are available to subscribers as part of CVN’s online trial video archive.
The case is captioned Julia Kerr v. No Shelter CrossFit, et al., case number 1622-CC00829, in Missouri’s 22nd Judicial Circuit Court.