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Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals, Inc

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 444 U.S. 931 100 S. Ct. 275 62 L. Ed. 2d 188 1979 U.S.

Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, a professional football player, was injured when one of Defendant’s players intentionally struck him during a game. Both continued to play in the game and did not make any complaints at the time. Plaintiff later sued to recover for his injuries.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Even in an inherently violent situation such as a game of professional football, it is possible for one to go beyond its customs and so be liable for injuries in tort.


Facts. Plaintiff was injured by one of Defendant’s players in a professional football game. Defendant’s player intentionally struck Plaintiff, but was not found to have intended to injure him. Neither of the two complained to officials at the time of the injury, but Plaintiff later sued to collect for his personal injuries. The trial court took judicial notice of the violent nature of professional football and found that the only remedies available to Plaintiff would be those administered within the game.

Issue. Was the Trial Court correct in finding that Plaintiff had no remedy at law due to the extremely violent nature of professional football?

Content Type: Brief


1 Response to Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals, Inc

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Liability for NFL Bounties: Possible but Impractical LegalBlogger

March 30th, 2012 at 1:00 pm

[...] Violence is an inherent part of the NFL.  Players are not only expected, but required, to dish out a high level punishment on the field.  Players are generally considered to assume the risk of harm and injury that may result from such violent activity.  “You break your arm? Suffer concussion? Broken leg?…Contact is an inherent element of N.F.L. football.” New York Times, quoting Matt Mitten.  However, at least one Circuit Court has found that on-field conduct, expressly prohibited by the rules and done with the intention to injure, can be the basis for civil liability.  See Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals, Inc. [...]