State University Sued For Sports Injury - Despite Immunity

A state university can be sued for a boy's injury at the school's baseball camp-in spite of sovereign immunity, says the Mississippi Supreme Court in reversing a summary judgment.

The boy was hit in the mouth with a bat when an instructor swung without warning. His parents sued, claiming that the $265 admission fee they had paid for the camp constituted an "implied contract" that their son would be taught in a safe manner.

The university argued that it was protected by sovereign immunity.

But the court said that by paying the fee the parents had entered into a contract with the university, and sovereign immunity didn't bar a claim for breach of contract.

The university also argued that the parents had assumed the risk of injury when they signed a release accepting the "inherent risk" of baseball camp.

But the court said that was up to a jury to decide.

"The language contained in the release could cause reasonable minds to differ as to what inherent risks of physical injury of a baseball camp really are. Is it an inherent risk of a baseball camp that an instructor might hit a camper with a a baseball bat? Hopefully not; yet events occur, as here, and some remedy must exist for such events. Otherwise, it is doubtful that parents would send their children to such camps, no matter how good the instruction might be."