ANALYSIS: The liability questions in the death of Bakersfield attorney Benjamin Greene

ANALYSIS: The liability questions in the death of Bakersfield attorney Benjamin Greene

When Bakersfield attorney Benjamin Greene died Tuesday evening after racing in a 5-kilometer run through 100-plus degree temperatures at Hart Park it set off a serious questions about why the race was run during an excessive heat event.

On Thursday’s episode of “The Richard Beene Show,” Richard Beene interviewed Bakersfield attorney David Cohn about the potential liability associated with Greene’s death. The race was sponsored by The Bakersfield Track Club.

Many of the questions about the decision to run the race were raised by Greene’s wife, Michelle, during an interview with KGET Ch. 17.

“They should have never been out there,” she told the TV station. “They did not have a paramedic, a set of paddles, anything.”

The Bakersfield Track Club has pushed back against some of the assertions, repeating that competitors knew of the risk and signed waivers to compete in the race.

Cohn told Beene that the No. 1 factor in determining the liability is the cause of death. At the moment, the Kern County Coroner’s Office is early into its investigation in Greene’s death, and Cohn said it could take weeks to get conclusive results.

“Again you’ve got to figure out what was the cause of death in this case,” Cohn said. One of the things that I know his family has talked about, and what I’ve read in the paper, is that they should have had a defibrillator available. We have a case involving a young man that died during an exercise class at Delano High School, and there was no defibrillator available. If when you look at the cause of death you might determine even if there was defibrillator it may have not made a difference. That’s why determining cause of death is really important.”

Cohn said the waiver issue does not clear the Bakersfield Track Club from liability.

“The law clearly states that for a waiver to be effective you have to be waiving negligent conduct,” Cohn said.

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