We have previously discussed the liability issues associated with eating contests or drinking contests. In Fresno, California, Dana Andrew Hutchings competed in the Taco Truck Throwdown eating contest and it proved to be his last meal. Hutchings is believed to have choked to death during the taco-eating contest at a Grizzlies game in California. I remain surprised by the continued popularity of such contests given the obvious risks. However, these contests are often accompanied by clear waivers of liability and such tragedies are viewed as a classic assumption of the risk by courts absent some collateral negligence in responding to a medical emergency or other issue beyond the dangers of the competitive eating.
Medics reportedly tried to clear Hutchings’ airway but he passed within thirty minutes. That could undermine any negligence claim for failure to prepare for medical emergencies related to the competition. Moreover, Hitchings reportedly had been preparing for the competition. One report said that he suffered from diabetes and had a couple beers before the competition.
The question is whether the organizers asked or knew about any condition that might contribute to a higher risk for Hutchings. It will have to be a strong showing of negligence however given the obvious and known risks of an eating contest.