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Kavanagh v. Trustees of Boston University

Massachusetts Supreme Court
795 N.E. 2d 1170 (2003)


Kenneth Kavanagh (plaintiff) was a student and a member of the basketball team at Manhattan College. During a basketball game against Boston University (BU) (defendant), Kavanagh was punched by Levar Folk while Kavanagh was attempting to break up a scuffle between players. As a result, Kavanagh’s nose was broken. Prior to the punch, the number of penalties called by the referees during the game was within normal limits. No technical fouls had been called on Folk, and no players from BU had been ejected. However, Kavanagh described BU’s players as playing with reckless abandon and elbowing opposing players in the face. Prior to the game, Folk had never engaged in violent acts and did not have a history that suggested he was more likely to be violent on or off the basketball court. Kavanagh also claimed that BU’s coach, Wolff (defendant), was encouraging aggressiveness on the court. Kavanagh sued BU and Wolff for negligence and alleged that BU was vicariously liable for the actions of its scholarship athlete. The superior court dismissed Kavanagh’s complaints. Kavanagh appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Sosman, J.)

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