A Superior Court judge in Connecticut upheld a $14.5 million verdict awarded to a doctor who claimed he suffered a massive stroke after a personal trainer at an Equinox club pushed him too hard on a rowing machine.
Last February, the jury said the plaintiff, Dr. Chetan Vaid of Greenwich, Conn., was 25 percent at fault, bringing the initial payout to $10.875 million, according to a report in the Connecticut Law Tribune. The total award would be about $13 million factoring in offer of compromise interest and the plaintiffs’ lawyers, the newspaper reported. The trial in Stamford (Conn.) Superior Court lasted five weeks.
Attorneys for the Equinox club in Greenwich, Conn., argued that the evidence did not support the jury’s conclusion of foreseeability of Vaid’s injuries and that no witness testified at the trial that “a stroke was a contemplated risk from exercising” on the rowing machine, according to the newspaper. Superior Court Judge Charles Lee disagreed and upheld the jury's verdict.
In his 10-page ruling, according to the Law Tribune, Lee wrote:
“Plaintiffs adduced substantial evidence in addition to the doctor’s testimony that excessive exercise, especially with bad form, can cause serious injury. Reference material was admitted identifying stroke as a risk of exercise… Evidence was also admitted to the effect that persons inexperienced with the use of rowing machines were especially at risk. Accordingly, the proof at trial adequately supported the jury’s finding of foreseeability as to the type of harm suffered by Dr. Vaid at the Equinox facility.”
Vaid joined the Equinox club in 2011. He claimed during his fifth session with his trainer, Joe Dominguez, that Dominguez set the rowing machine to 10, its most difficult setting. Vaid kept turning down the setting, but Dominguez kept turning it back up, according to Vaid’s attorney, Victoria de Toledo, who also said Dominguez made Vaid do push-ups and bench presses after Vaid complained he was injured.
The night of the workout, Vaid took himself to the hospital. He suffered a massive stroke while awaiting a transfer to another hospital.