The Bowling Center Safety Act, an Illinois bill that would have insulated bowling alley owners and operators from liability, failed in committee. The bill provides that bowlers and spectators are deemed to have knowledge of the inherent risks at a bowling alley, and they therefore assume this risk, provided that the operator has not violated his duties under the Act.
The numerous deficiencies of this bill are illustrated by a Levin & Perconti case from 2006, involving a bowler who was injured at a bowling alley because the alley had dimmed its lights, reducing visibility. This was compounded by the design of the alley which had a one step difference between the floor level of the alley and the bowling level. Unfortunately, this step was not clearly marked, and because the lights in the alley were nearly off, the bowler lost his balance and struck his head on the seating area where bowlers sat. The injury resulted in severe spinal damage which ultimately led to the bowler’s death. Ultimately, Levin & Perconti was able to recover a nearly $500,000 settlement which was used by the bowler’s family to pay for many of his medical bills. Passage of the Bowling Center Safety Act would likely have insulated this bowling alley, denying the bowler’s family members the right to recover for injuries caused by the bowling alley’s negligence. This bill’s defeat is a victory for consumers and a blow to companies that fail to provide adequate safety and protection at their business.