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University Had Duty to Protect Spectator from Fan Rush for Football
Description A spectator at a Notre Dame football game was injured when other fans rushing to get a football kicked through the goal post knocked her down. The appeals court held that the trial court was wrong to dismiss the suit; since the university knew such scrambles for balls occurred, it had a duty to protect fans from such injury.
Topic Torts
Key Words Spectators; Duty to Protect; Premises Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Hayden was attending a Notre Dame football game when she was injured by other spectators who knocked her down when they lunged for a football kicked by one of the teams at the goal post, which the net behind the goal post failed to catch. She sued the university for failing to exercise care to protect her from such injury. The trial court granted the university summary judgment; Hayden appealed.
Decision Reversed. Hayden argues that the case is governed by premises liability and that she was an invitee of the university. The university contends that the third party's (spectator who knocked her down) action was unforeseeable, so it owed no duty of care to protect Hayden. The test to be applied in such cases is that of the "totality of the circumstances." Here, "Notre Dame should have foreseen that injury would likely result from the actions of a third party in lunging for the football after it landed in the seating area. As a result, it owed a duty to Letitia Hayden to protect her from such injury."
Citation Hayden v. University of Notre Dame, 716 N.E.2d 603 (Ct. App., Ind., 1999)

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