Sports Law: Torts and Sports
This is not legal advice and I am not licensed to practice law in any jurisdiction.
Should you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
This Week’s Topics:
Torts on the Professional Field: Dale Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals & Charles Clark
videos of famous “torts” on the field/court/rink.
Concussion lawsuits brought by retired NFL players against NFL and helmet companies
Torts on the College Baseball Field: the Ben Christensen saga
Torts on the Amateur Field: Bourque v. Duplechin, Knight v. Jewett
Torts suffered by Spectators: Turner v. Mandalay Sports Entertainment
Legal fallout of death of 13-year-old Brittanie Cecil after getting hit in head by puck during Columbus Blue Jackets game against Calgary Flames in 2002.
Torts during the Olympics: death of Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run for the XXI Olympic Winter Games
Team Liability for Crimes Committed by Players: Aaron Hernandez
After a month of interviews and midterms, I’m finally caught up on my Sports Law articles. We finished up torts and sports on Halloween. Some of the gruesomeness and violence is appropriate for the day, I suppose.
According to Wikipedia, “a tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a civil wrong which unfairly causes someone else to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act, called a tortfeasor. ” That’s basically what we are talking about here. The thing that makes torts in sports so interesting is that injuries happen almost as a matter of course in sports.
What I’m going to focus on torts during mega-events, such as the Olympics and FIFA World Cup. The reason I’m going to do that is because recently there has been an uptick in critical perspectives in mega-events, sparked by the protests this summer in Brazil during the FIFA Confederations Cup. The issue, from the perspective of torts, is what liability FIFA or the IOC have for any harm they cause.
It is well known that FIFA and the IOC make countries or at least jurisdictions where the events take place, change laws (even if they claim not to be able to). What I’m curious about is whether any of those changes apply to tort law.
While FIFA and the IOC both have a ton of problems, they also so some good. The IOC, for its part, sponsors a conference on prevention of injury & illness in sport. Obviously, keeping the best athletes healthy and on the field, rink, court, etc., is in the IOC’s financial interest, but despite whatever the IOC’s true intentions, good is good, in my book.
It would appear that the contracts the athletes sign are not public knowledge. Thus, even if tort law did change, it’s not clear the IOC would have any liability. However, there are some things you cannot contract away.
There is one case that suggests at least the local organizing committees might be liable. Anderson v Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, Inc. Whether a suit against the local organizing committee could leave the IOC liable for damages would depend in part on what I’m going to call the franchising agreement between the IOC and the local organizing committees. That is not something I have time for today, but as always, if you’d like me to dig deeper, just leave a comment.
As you can see from the outline at the beginning, I’ve got at least six categories on which I could write about torts and sports. If you have an idea for an article, let me know in the comments!
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