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During an off-season practice, Drew Kleinknecht of the Gettysburg College lacrosse team suffered a severe cardiac arrest. Neither students nor the trainers were present during the exercise. Due to this, the parents of Drew filed a wrongful demise and survival measure accusing Gettysburg College of ignorance and further claiming that a predictable hazard of harm existed while the students practiced a sport. At first, the court ruling favored Gettysburg College after taking into consideration Kleinknecht’s previous excellent and stable health as well as the lack of probability for the occurrence of a heart attack (Kleinknecht v. Gettysburg College, 1992). However, the decision was reversed in 1993 by the court.

In this scenario, the court has the duty of deciding whether or not the learning institution has a legal obligation to establish preventative measures for the learners taking part in the school-administered intercollegiate athletic competitions and activities. In the view of Drew’s parents, their son was not a private student in the school since the institution actively recruited him to represent them in lacrosse. The ultimate question presented to the court is whether the facility ought to be held responsible due to its inadequate or lack of preventative procedures as well as the actions of the school staff and employees.

The decision made by the court was based on a pure foreseeability or negligence tort. It is highly predictable that a student-player is likely to suffer from heart attacks while in-game activities. Rules such as Leahy v. Sch. Bd of Hernando County, Beckett v. Clinton Prairie Sch. Corp. and Alumni Association v. Sullivan were also put in play by the court in making the decision.

It is the obligation of the school, according to Leahy v. Sch. Bd. In the Hernando County case, to carefully oversee football activities as the schools approved the practice. Similarly, Kleinknecht’s lacrosse activity was sponsored by the school. In contrast to Alumni Association v. Sullivan where the student was a private person, Kleinknecht was purposely recruited to the school. Due to this and based on the unique relationship with Drew, the school owed him a duty of care.

In truism, the previous decision in favor of Gettysburg College was later reversed by foreseeability as well as the particular relationship that Drew and the college shared. The conclusion that the deeds of the college were reasonable and were entitled to protection under the law of the Good Samaritan was also reversed. The previous rulings were compared by public institution structures at the level of a pre-college which are likely to be unequal. The second and final ruling was reached on the fact that the college had actively registered Kleinknecht to play intercollegiate lacrosse, thus forming a unique relationship.


Alumni Association v. Sullivan, 524 Pa. 356, 572 A.2d 1209, 1211 (1990).

Kleinknecht v. Gettysburg College, 989 F.2d 1360 (1993).

Leahy v. Sch. Bd of Hernando County, 450 So.2d 883, 885 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1984).



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