- DKE Sues Wesleyan
- National Fraternity not Responsible for Football Injury
- Recent Developments: The Impact of Student Conduct Policies on Greek Letter Organizations and Members
- The Bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act
- The Rights of Accused Students
- A View From the Ground
- Finding the Right Balance
Newsletter > March 2015 > "National Fraternity not Responsible for Football Injury"
National Fraternity not Responsible for Football Injury
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Phi Delta Theta Chapter at the University of Alabama pitted its pledges in a football game against the pledges of Beta Theta Pi on September 23, 2011. Tempers apparently flared and according to the lawsuit he filed, Brett Bodin was physically attacked without provocation, rendered unconscious and his jaw was broken. His lawsuit named national Phi Delta Theta, the local House Corporation, and the Chapter.
In December, the trial court granted summary judgment1 to the national fraternity and the house corporation. While there is no written opinion from the court explaining its decision, the argument made by the fraternity counsel in support of the motion argued that neither the national nor the house corporation had a duty to prevent injuries to players in football game. There was no relationship between the plaintiff and Phi Delta Theta creating a duty entitling the plaintiff to care. Under Alabama law, the alleged criminal conduct of the pledge who is claimed to have assaulted the plaintiff was not the fault of the fraternity or house corporation since it was neither foreseeable and there was no specialized knowledge by the fraternity of criminal activity, nor was there any reason to believe that it was probable. As a practical matter, as counsel pointed out, the fraternity had no knowledge of the football game, nor the injury until months after it had happened.
Bottom line, it is unlikely that any court would conclude that football games between collegiate students should or could be banned or expect a national fraternity to ban them or be responsible for injuries sustained in games the National had no knowledge of.
1 Bowden Brett v. Phi Delta Theta Foundation, et al., Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County, Alabama Case No. CV-2012-900729.00, 12/10/14.