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Tennis association, player who fell settle liability lawsuit

February 23, 2018

Tennis star Eugenie Bouchard leaves Brooklyn Federal court, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, in New York. Bouchard testified during her negligence lawsuit against the United States Tennis Association that a wet floor caused her to slip and fall inside a locker room at the 2015 U.S. Open. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK (AP) — The United States Tennis Association and popular Canadian player Eugenie Bouchard reached a settlement in her liability lawsuit on Friday, ending a trial at which she testified about slipping and falling on a wet locker room floor at the 2015 U.S. Open and suffering a head injury.

Asked how she felt as she left the courthouse, Bouchard responded, “Just relief and happiness right now,” adding she was ready to get back to playing tennis.

She said she felt “vindicated” by a jury’s verdict in an initial phase of the trial finding the USTA mostly liable for the accident.

A second phase, at which Bouchard was expected testify about how the accident had harmed her career and the jury was to decide what damages the USTA should pay, was interrupted on Friday by several hours of closed-door talks between the parties. They emerged with the deal but declined to disclose the terms.

USTA lawyer Alan Kaminsky said that he was satisfied with the outcome and that the sport’s national governing body “certainly wishes Ms. Bouchard the best in her career.”

The accident occurred after Bouchard had just played in a mixed doubles match and returned to the locker room at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens shortly after 10 p.m. Minutes later, she fell on the tile floor of a physiotherapy room inside the locker room.

Bouchard, 23, told a jury in federal court in Brooklyn that she had taken two steps into the training area en route to take an ice bath when she lost her footing “and hit the back of my head on the floor.” She recalled being in “shock” as she found herself “staring at the ceiling.”

The player’s lawyers argued that the USTA was at fault for the unsafe conditions. The defense countered that she should have known not to go into the area unless she was accompanied by a trainer.

Bouchard, once ranked No. 5 in the world and a Wimbledon finalist in 2014, was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Open and from subsequent tournaments in China and Japan, her lawsuit said.

The accident sent Bouchard, now ranked No. 116, into “a downward spiral that she has not been able to recover from,” her lawyer Benedict Morelli told jurors.

Kaminsky responded that though Bouchard fell in the rankings she didn’t lose any of her lucrative off-court endorsement deals.

“Everyone who sponsored her before the U.S. Open continues to,” he said, adding she remained “very marketable” because of a large following on social media.

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