Friday, October 16, 2015

Federal Court Addresses Personal Injury Claims in High School Football Context

 With the football season upon us, and interesting decision comes out of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in the form of Dorley v. South Fayette Township School District, No. 2:15-cv-00214 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 4, 2015 Hornak, J.).  

In this matter, the court addressed various Motions to Dismiss a personal injury claim arising out of injuries allegedly sustained at a local high school football training camp.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff, who was an incoming high school freshman, participated in a blocking drill with an upper classman and sustained injuries because of what the Plaintiff alleges was an unconstitutionally dangerous drill and the upper classman’s excessively, aggressive and tortious conduct during and after the drill.

Utilizing 42 U.S.C. §1983, the Plaintiff sued the school district and some of its football coaches, alleging federal and state constitutional claims. The Plaintiff also sued the involved upper classman and his parents under several state law tort claims.  

Ultimately, the federal court dismissed the federal claims in their entirety, but would leave for the Plaintiff to amend certain claims. Some of the state law claims were also dismissed.

The Court ruled that, should the Plaintiff decline to amend his Complaint on the federal claims, or such federal claims otherwise subsequently fail, the remaining state claims were to be remanded to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

In his Opinion, Judge Hornak addressed allegations pertaining to 14th Amendment Due Process claims and the application of the qualified Immunity Doctrine, school district liability claims, tort claim for battery, intention infliction of emotional distress, as well as negligence allegations. Also reviewed were claims of negligence and vicarious liability against the parent Defendants.  

I send thanks to Attorney Thomas McDonnell of the Pittsburgh law firm of Summers McDonnell for forwarding this interesting decision to my attention. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

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