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Blazing coals burn 21 people at Tony Robbins seminar

Tony Robbins is famous for giving inspirational speeches at his motivational seminars. Tens of thousands of people attend his conferences every year in an effort to overcome the difficulties they are experiencing in their lives and become better people.

But recently, a group of people who attended a Robbins seminar were burned -- some severely -- after performing a "firewalk" across extremely hot coals. The experience was supposed to be a metaphor for overcoming difficulties; but now it could become synonymous with dangerous premises.

Many factors go into a premises liability case. What kind of training or safety procedures are in place to ensure people are not placed in a dangerous position? Was medical staff readily available and prepared to respond to an emergency? How about logistical elements, such as building or activity permits? All of these things play a huge role when someone accuses a person, party or organization of maintaining unsafe premises.

In this case, two other questions can be asked: what kind of preparation was given to the novice "firewalkers" before they crossed the scalding coals? And did the participants assume the risk of burns when they chose to perform the "firewalk?"

That last question can be the deciding factor in many premises liability cases, much like in wrongful death cases. If the activity which harmed the victims is proven to be an inherently dangerous activity (and "firewalking" doesn't exactly equate with a "safe" activity), then they likely don't have a strong case for premises liability or personal injury.

With this case, though, there could be another angle to consider: were the participants coerced to perform the firewalk? Did being in the atmosphere of a motivational seminar force people who otherwise would not do a "firewalk" to cross the coals?

Source: Reuters, "Tony Robbins 'Firewalk' Burns 21 People's Feet," Deanna Katz, July 23, 2012

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