Amputations have occurred for some who attended Dolphins-Chiefs game


Earlier this week, a report emerged that some amputations might be needed for people who suffered frostbite during the Dolphins-Chiefs deep-freeze playoff game in the wild-card round.

On Friday, the Research Medical Center in Missouri said that some of the people who attended the game have indeed undergone amputations.

Via ESPN.com, the hospital said in a statement that it treated “dozens” for frostbite from January’s extreme cold spell. Twelve, including some who attended the playoff game, have undergone amputations of “mostly fingers and toes.”

The statement indicates that more amputations are expected in the next 2-4 weeks as “injuries evolve.”

As the game approached and the forecast turned colder and colder, the NFL said that it has no temperature that it regards as too cold for playing a game. Maybe, given Friday’s news, it should.

Is there liability for the NFL when these injuries happen? On one hand, folks are making the decision to go to the game, fully aware of the forecast. On the other hand, someone could try to come up with a legal theory based loosely on the concept of the “attractive nuisance.” The fact that a playoff game is happening becomes a very strong temptation to roll the dice on whatever could happen after standing out in the extreme cold for an extended period of time.

Setting aside whether and to what extent the league (or its insurance companies) would ever have financial responsibility to compensate those injured during an open-air game that wasn’t canceled due to the weather is the question of whether postponing or moving a game that is slated to be played in extreme cold is the right thing to do.

Regardless of the fact that people have to make their own choices as to whether to go, sometimes the prudent thing to do is to take the option off the table. The NFL does it when temporarily postponing a game due to lightning or when snow makes the roads too and from the game difficult to traverse.

Why shouldn’t/wouldn’t the league at least consider whether there’s a temperature at which frostbite, followed by amputations, become likely — and whether that’s the situation that would get a game postponed or moved?

Here’s the reality. If frostbite and/or amputations ever happen for players, coaches, and/or other employees present for the game, the lead would immediately reconsider its policy. Why shouldn’t that happen when the injuries occur to the customers?



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