Tennessee High School Athlete Undergoes Surgery After Hazing Incident
Over the week of Christmas, a high school hazing incident of a Tennessee high school basketball player required him to undergo surgery and led to the dismissal of three of his teammates. Gatlinburg police are investigating hazing allegations after a player from the Ooltewah High School basketball team was brought to LeConte Medical center by his coach. It was reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the incident occurred during the Smoky Mountain Classic basketball tournament, during which the three unnamed players assaulted a freshman in a rental cabin where the team was staying. Specifically, it is alleged that the injured student was assaulted and raped, although the hospital and school will not release the extent of the victim’s injuries.
The three basketball players who were dismissed have been charged with aggravated rape and aggravated assault. They are currently being held in a juvenile detention facility in Sevier County, TN. It is alleged that coaches were staying with the boys at the cabin during this overnight trip, and it is unknown why they were not accountable for these students’ actions.
When ‘Dismissal’ is Not Enough
We see it over and over again: a high school or university experiences a hazing incident in which a student is seriously hurt or killed. The school dismisses the other students involved, and tries to distance itself from the situation, claiming they have done enough to ‘right the wrong.’ Despite anti-bullying crackdowns by schools and state legislatures, young people continue to get hurt or killed. In these situations, dismissal of students is simply not enough.
One option for injuries caused by hazing is to sue the individuals responsible for causing the injuries, such as members of a fraternity or sports team. The suit would fall under the theory of intentional torts, which include assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Depending on the type of personal injury sustained, victims can ask for damages for medical costs and emotional distress damages, and in some cases punitive damages are available. It may also be possible to sue the tortfeasor for negligence or negligence per se or wrongful death. This means victims may have a claim for someone failing to do something (ie. failing to intervene), or for causing injuries while they violate a law (ie. assault).
The other option is to sue the school or organization for negligence or wrongful death. In theory, schools and their employees are responsible for ensuring the safety of their students. Failure to ensure the safety of students they are responsible for gives rise to a claim.
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Schools and sports teams will always try to argue they could not prevent an injury or hazing incident while evidence of hazing continues to be at the forefront of the media. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed due to a hazing accident, contact the law offices of Calhoun Law, PLC. Our Nashville accident and personal injury lawyers will seek to hold bad actors accountable.