Author Archives: William H. Baaki

New York Sports Case Law Update: Recent Applications of the Assumption of Risk Defense in Sports Injury Actions

According to the doctrine of primary assumption of risk, a participant in a sport or recreational activity is deemed to consent to those commonly appreciated risks which are inherent in and arise out of the nature of the sport generally and flow from such participation. A trio of recent cases from New York’s Appellate Division, Second Department illustrate when the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk will — and when it will not — provide summary judgment to a defendant in a sports injury…

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Sports Litigation Case Law Update March 2015 Part 2 of 2

As mentioned in part 1 of this months sports litigation case law update here we visit a hockey locker room in upstate New York, and go back to Texas for a youth baseball field. High School Hockey Player Assumed the Risk of Being Stepped On By a Skate in the Locker Room Litz v. Clinton Central Sch. Dist., 2015 WL 1270085 (4th Dept., March 20, 2015) Plaintiff high school hockey player was walking barefoot in the locker room when his teammate, who still…

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Sports Litigation Case Law Update March 2015 Part 1 of 2

In this month’s sports litigation case law update, we travel to a soccer stadium in Texas, a softball field in Illinois, a hockey locker room in upstate New York, and then back to Texas to a youth baseball field.  We start, however, with the best sports-related quote in a judicial opinion this past month, which comes from the Court of Appeals of North Carolina which stated “we conclude that the purported conflict described in [defendant’s counsel’s] motion to disqualify looks less like a conflict of…

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Sports Litigation Case Law Update February 2015

This month’s sports litigation case law update demonstrates how sports can touch a broad variety of areas of law, from environmental challenges to medical malpractice to contract claims to constitutional due process.  The common thread this month – defendants went undefeated.   Sacramento’s Downtown Arena Project Withstands Challenge Under the California Environmental Quality Act  Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento, 2015 WL 708608 (Cal. Ct. of App., Feb. 18, 2015) The California state appellate court faced a challenge under the California Environmental Quality Act to…

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Sports Litigation Case Law Update January 2015

In this month’s sports litigation case law update, we report on two decisions issued, coincidentally, on the same day this month, in which two different courts applied contract law in the college sports context. In Kent State University v. Gene A. Ford, 2015 WL 135032 (Ohio Ct. of App., Jan. 12, 2015), Kent State University commenced an action against Gene Ford and Bradley University, asserting that Mr. Ford, the former head coach of the men’s basketball team at Kent State, breached his contract with…

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Minimum Wage Lawsuits Strike At the Core of Major Junior Hockey and Minor League Baseball

Many would argue that minor league baseball is the quintessential American sporting experience – playing for the love of the game in small towns throughout the country, dreaming of the big leagues, or playing out the string.  Similarly, nothing may be more distinctively Canadian than major junior hockey – the primary breeding ground for future NHLers for generations and the pride of Canadian communities from Cape Breton to Victoria.  The two share more than long bus rides and long odds.  They both are the subject…

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What’s Next, Civil Litigation Against Sports Memorabilia Dealers for Improper Dealings with College-Athletes?

Your favorite college football team loses its star quarterback or running back due to a suspension for NCAA violations related to compensation received from a sports memorabilia dealer for autographing multiple items that the dealer sells.  The college suffers damage in the form of potential lost ticket sales, merchandising, bowl revenue, and negative publicity.  Does the university have any recourse against the dealer who stands outside the reach of NCAA oversight but who profits from the offending transactions? NCAA Bylaw 12.5.2.1 prohibits student-athletes from accepting…

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“Morals Clauses” in Sports Contracts – More Important Now Than Ever Before?

NFL players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are the latest in a long line of professional athletes whose misdeeds have been exposed to the glare of public scrutiny and discourse on whether they should be terminated or suspended due to their conduct away from the playing field.  Implicit in the dialogue and debate on the proper response of professional sports leagues and teams to the off-field misdeeds of their players is the contractual right to terminate or suspend  players under the so-called “morals clauses” of…

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Federal Court in Pennsylvania Allows High School Football Traumatic Brain Injury Case to Continue

A traumatic brain injury sustained by a grown adult while accepting the monetary rewards of professional football is one thing.  A traumatic brain injury sustained by a public high school football player while under the watch of grown adults is another, and may constitute a federal constitutional claim for “injury as a result of a state created danger,” as demonstrated by the decision issued last week by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Mann v. Palmerton Area School Dist. et

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Second Circuit Refuses to Second-Guess College Hockey Coach

James “Jak” Knelman played hockey for Middlebury College until he was kicked off the team by head coach Bill Beaney for leaving a team banquet early. Whether the coach’s decision was right or wrong, the player has no right to sue the coach and college, according to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a decision issued on June 23 (Knelman v. Middlebury College, 13-2614-cv, 2014 US App LEXIS 11721 [2d Cir. June 23, 2014]). Knelman joined the Middlebury…

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