Justia Pennsylvania Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Entertainment & Sports Law

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Appellees Augustus Feleccia and Justin Resch were student athletes who played football at Lackawanna Junior College (Lackawanna), a nonprofit junior college. Lackawanna had customarily employed two athletic trainers to support the football program. The Athletic Director, Kim Mecca, had to fill two trainer vacancies in the summer of 2009. She received applications from Kaitlin Coyne, and Alexis Bonisese. At the time she applied and interviewed for the Lackawanna position, Coyne had not yet passed the athletic trainer certification exam, and was therefore not licensed by the Board. Bonisese was also not licensed, having failed the exam on her first attempt, and still awaiting the results of her second attempt when she applied and interviewed for the Lackawanna position. Nevertheless, Lackawanna hired both Coyne and Bonisese in August 2009 with the expectation they would serve as athletic trainers, pending receipt of their exam results, and both women signed “athletic trainer” job descriptions. After starting their employment at Lackawanna, Coyne and Bonisese both learned they did not pass the athletic trainer certification exam. Mecca retitled the positions held by Coyne and Bonisese from “athletic trainers” to “first responders.” However, neither Coyne nor Bonisese executed new job descriptions, despite never achieving the credentials included in the athletic trainer job descriptions they did sign. Appellants were also aware the qualifications of their new hires was called into question by their college professors and clinic supervisors. In 2010, appellees participated in the first day of spring contact football practice, engaging in a variation of the tackling drill known as the “Oklahoma Drill.” While participating in the drill, both Resch and Feleccia suffered injuries. Resch attempted to make a tackle and suffered a T-7 vertebral fracture. Resch was unable to get up off the ground and Coyne attended to him before he was transported to the hospital in an ambulance. Later that same day, Feleccia was injured while attempting to make his first tackle, experiencing a “stinger” in his right shoulder, i.e., experiencing numbness, tingling and a loss of mobility in his right shoulder. Bonisese attended Feleccia and cleared him to continue practice “if he was feeling better.” In this discretionary appeal arising from the dismissal of appellees’ personal injury claims on summary judgment, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered whether the superior court erred in: (1) finding a duty of care; and (2) holding a pre-injury waiver signed by student athletes injured while playing football was not enforceable against claims of negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness. After careful review, the Court affirmed the superior court’s order only to the extent it reversed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment on the claims of gross negligence and recklessness. The Case was remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Feleccia v. Lackawanna College, et al." on Justia Law

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In 1985, the Board of Commissioners of Lackawanna County formed the Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority of Lackawanna County. The Stadium Authority subsequently acquired a minor league baseball team, now the "SWB Yankees." Capital was raised via bonds and other public financing, the Authority constructed the Lackawanna County Stadium, now known as PNC Field to serve as the home field for the franchise. From 1989 to 2006, the Authority managed all projects at the Stadium, including the day-to-day operations of the team. The Authority eventually consummated a management agreement with Mandalay Baseball Properties, LLC, a private entity, which vested Mandalay with the overall management and control of the day-to-day operations of the baseball club and the Stadium. Under the contract, Appellant SWB Yankees, LLC became the sole and exclusive manager of all baseball operations and other entertainment activities and events conducted at the Stadium. Gretchen Wintermantel, a reporter for the Scranton Times Tribune (collectively “Appellees”), submitted a request to the Stadium Authority seeking “access to and copies of all names and the bids submitted to [Appellant] for a concessionaire contract at [the Stadium].” Appellees invoked the Right-to-Know Law, which generally provides for access to “public records,” of a Commonwealth or local agency. The Stadium Authority’s solicitor denied the request, stating that the Authority did not possess such information, and that it was not performing a governmental function on behalf of the Stadium Authority. Appellees appealed to the Office of Open Records, taking the position that any action by Appellant as the Stadium Authority’s agent is public business. In its opinion, the court of common pleas initially rejected Appellant’s argument that the bids for a concessionaire contract were not “records” for purposes of the Right-to-Know Law, since Appellees’ request was phrased broadly such that it might be read as subsuming intangible information. After Appellant lodged an appeal, the Commonwealth Court issued its decision in "East Stroudsburg University Foundation v. OOR," (995 A.2d 496 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)) determining that “all contracts that governmental entities enter into with private contractors necessarily carry out a ‘governmental function’ [for purposes of Section 506(d)(1)] --because the government always acts as the government.” Having reviewed the relevant statutory scheme, the parties’ arguments, and the record, the Supreme Court agreed with the appeals officer, the court of common pleas, and the Commonwealth Court that the disclosure of any written concessionaire bids is required per Section 506(d)(1) of the Right-to-Know Law. View "SWB Yankees, LLC v. Wintermantel" on Justia Law