Torts in Sports--Deterring Violence in Professional Athletics
Torts in Sports--Deterring Violence in Professional Athletics
Stephen J. Gulotta 0 1
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1 Stephen J. Gulotta, Jr., Torts in Sports--Deterring Violence in Professional Athletics , 49 Fordham L. Rev. 764 (1981). Available at:
"It was a perfectly timed hit, and I used my hook on his head.... I heard
Riley scream on impact andfelt his body go limp.... [His] eyes rolled back
in his head and he wasn't breathing. I had another knockout ....
In recent years, the level of violence in professional team sports has
increased dramatically. ' Many commentators have suggested that professional
sport administrators are incapable of dealing with the problem 2 and have
called for judicial intervention in the field of professional sports. -' The
judiciary has recently responded to these requests by sanctioning the first civil
actions brought by athletes to recover for personal injuries suffered during
professional athletic contests. 4 In Hackbart v Cincinnati Bengals, Inc.,-' the
* J. Tatum & W. Kushner, They Call Me Assassin 18 (1979) (statement of Jack Tatum, free
safety with the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL)).
1. See note 25 infra.
2. See Flakne & Caplan, Sports Violence and the Prosecution, Trial, Jan., 1977, at 33-34;
Comment, Violence in ProfessionalSports, 1975 Wis. L Rev. 771, 786-87 [hereinafter cited as
Violence in Sports].
3. See Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2, at 35; Violence in Sports, supra note 2, at 789-90; 10
Conn. L. Rev. 365, 375-76 (1978); 12 Ga. L. Rev. 380, 391-92 (1978).
4. Two earlier suits involving professional baseball players resulted in out-of-court
settlements. See Jacobson, The Law vs. Sports Violence, Newsday, Nov. 27, 1979, at 95, col. I
(account of baseball player Billy Martin settling lawsuit brought by pitcher Jim Brewer for
Martin's assault of Brewer after being hit with a pitch); N.Y. Times, Feb. 6, 1970, at 45, col. 7
(baseball players Juan Marichal and John Roseboro settling suit brought by Roseboro after being
hit over the head by Marichal with a bat during a game). In addition, there has been one suit
involving minor league baseball players. See Averill v. Luttrell, 44 Tenn. App. 56, 311 S.W.2d
812 (1957) (suit by a player against an opposing player and his team for injuries suffered in an
altercation during a game); notes 152-54 infra and accompanying text.
5. 601 F.2d 516 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 100 S. Ct. 275 (1979). The Hackbart case arose out
of an incident that occurred in a game between two NFL teams, the Denver Broncos and the
Cincinnati Bengals, on September 16, 1973. The plaintiff', Dale Hackbart, was on the field as a
defensive safety for the Denver team and Charles Clark, one of the codefendants in the suit, was
playing fullback for the Bengals. Midway through the game, the Cincinnati team attempted a
pass which was intercepted by one of the Denver defensive players. The plaintiff fell to the
ground attempting to block Clark. "Acting out of anger and frustration, but without a specific
intent to injure," Clark responded by illegally striking the plaintiff in the back of the head with
his right forearm. Hackbart v. Cincinnati Bengals, Inc., .135 F. Supp. 352, 353 (D. Colo. 1977),
rev'd, 601 F.2d 516 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 100 S.Ct. 275 (1979). No penalty was called, but
the blow resulted in a career-ending neck injury to the plaintiff. Id. at 353-54. Hackbart brought
an action against Clark and the Cincinnati Bengals in the United States District Court for
Colorado alleging that the blow was not acceptable conduct within the rules and customs of
professional football but rather should be characterized as reckless misconduct as that concept is
defined by § 500 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. ld at 355; see Restatement (Second) of
Torts § 500 (1965). The plaintiff did not allege that Clark's conduct was intentional because the
one year statute of limitations on assault and battery had run prior to filing of the suit. 601 F.2d
at 520. The trial court dismissed the case on the ground that the plaintiff, as a professional
football player, had assumed the risk of such injury. '135 F. Supp. at 356. The court also
dismissed the plaintiff's allegations that Clark was guilty of outrageous conduct and interference
Tenth Circuit reversed a district court decision which had held that a
professional football player assumes the risk of injury caused by the
intentional reckless conduct of an opposing player. 6 Recognizing that principles of
negligence are "inherent in the game of football,"'7 the Tenth Circuit suggested
that intentional or reckless conduct that results in injury is actionable." In
Tomjanovich v. California Sports, Inc., 9 a Texas jury returned a $3.25
million verdict 10 for a plaintiff athlete based on the doctrine of respondeat
superior and the theory that the defendant basketball team was negligent in
training, supervising and retaining the player who inflicted the injury."I
Together, the Hackbart and Tomijanovich cases suggest that the civil forum
may become instrumental in deterring violence in professional sports.
The Hackbart case demonstrates that professional sports are not immune
from legal intervention in the form of civil suits. Toinjanovich, meanwhile,
puts professional sports franchises on notice that they may be held vicariously
liable and, under some circumstances, directly liable for the violent acts of
their players. The key inquiry, however, remains whether civil actions will
have any impact on the problem of violence in professional sports. This Note
will attempt to answer this question by examining the civil forum and its
potential -for both deterrence and compensation in light of the historic effect of
league-administered sanctions and criminal prosecutions.' 2
with contract, id. at 356-57, and held that, due to the violent nature of the game of football, the
judiciary was "not well suited" to determine which civil restraints should be applied- Id at 3589
The Tenth Circuit, however, rejected the trial court's reasoning that the general roughness of
professional football makes effective judicial intervention impossible. 601 F.2d at 520-21.
6. 435 F. Supp. at 356.
7. 601 F.2d at 520.
8. Id. at 524-25. See also Note, Injuries Resulting from NouintentionalActs in Organi:sed
Contact Sports: The Theories of Recovery Available to the Injured Athlete, 12 Ind L. Rev 687,
709 (1979) [hereinafter cited as Theories of Recovery].
9. No. H-78-243 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 17, 1979). The events leading to the Tomianovich case
occurred in a basketball game between two National Basketball Association (NBA) teams
Midway through the game, a fight broke out between the two teams The plaintiff player was
struck in the face by Kermit Washington, a player for the defendant Los Angeles Lakers. As a
result, Tomjanovich suffered nose, jaw and skull fractures, facial lacerations, a brain concussion,
loss of blood, and leakage of spinal fluid from the brain cavity. Plaintiffs' Original Petition at 6
Tomjanovich brought suit against the Lakers. basing his claim on the doctrine of respondeat
superior. Focusing on Washington's reputation as a violent player, he further alleged that the
Lakers were negligent in hiring and employing Washington and in failing to discourage vicious
conduct on the part of its players. Id. at 5. The Lakers answered that the blow was inflicted in
self-defense and that fighting is an integral part of professional basketball. See Bodine, Rudy T
Alters Rules of Game, Nat'l L.J., Sept. 3, 1979, at 3, col. 1. The jury returned a verdict in favor
of the plaintiff for $3.25 million, including $1.5 million in punitive damages- Id at 13. col 3
10. The plaintiff subsequently remitted $125,000 of the $200.000 awarded for future medical
expenses. Letter from Nick C. Nichols, Counsel for plaintiff (Jan.30, 1980) (on file with the
Fordhanm Law Review); see note 9 supra.
11. See note 9 supra.
12. This Note focuses on the role of existing forums in deterring violence in professional
sports. Although state and federal regulatory agencies have been suggested as possible means of
dealing with the problem, see Hallowell & Meshbesher, Sports Violence and the CriminalLaw,
Trial, Jan., 1977, at 27, 32, such proposals are beyond the scope of this Note.
Within most professional athletic organizations, control of violence is the
ultimate responsibility of the league commissioner. Pursuant to the league's
constitution and bylaws, the commissioner is given broad discretion over
disciplinary matters.'3 Disciplinary action is generally preceded by a
leagueconducted investigation or hearing concerning the circumstances surrounding
the violent activity. 4 Based on the results of this inquiry, the commissioner
may fine or suspend the players involved, ' 5 and, in the appropriate case, may
even take disciplinary action against a coach or team administrator for failing
to control his players.16
Effective internal controls are potentially the most powerful deterrent
against violence in professional sports. Deterrence is largely a function of the
severity and certainty of punishment,' 7 although the latter element is of
13. See, e.g., Major League Agreement art. I, §§ 2-4, r'eprintedin Baseball Blue Book 501-02
(1979) [hereinafter cited as Blue Book]; Constitution and By-Laws for The National Football
-League art. VIII, § 8.13, at 29-33 (1976) [hereinafter cited as NFL Const.]. The NBA and the
National Hockey League (NHL) do not make their constitutions and bylaws available to tile
public. However, copies of these documents from both the NBA and NHL appear in a 1957
congressional inquiry into professional team sports. See Organized Professional Team Sports:
Hearings on H.R. 5307, H.R. 5319, H.R. 5383, H.R. 6876, H.R. 6877, H.R. 8023, & ll.R. 8124
Before the Antitrust Subcomm. of the House Comm. on the Judiciary,85th Cong., 1st Sess. 2937,
3011 (1957) [hereinafter cited as 1957 Hearings]. Both organizations also vest broad disciplinary
power in a single executive. See National Basketball Association Const. cl. 43 [hereinafter cited as
NBA Const.], reprinted in 1957 Hearings,supra, at 2943; National Hockey League By-Laws §§
17-18 [hereinafter cited as NHL Bylaws], reprinted in 1957 Hearings, supra, at 3066-69.
14. See, e.g., Major League Agreement art. I, § 2(a), reprintedin Blue Book, supra note 13,
at 501; NFL Const. art. VIII, § 8.13(A), at 29; NHL Bylaws § 17(3), reprintedin 1957 Hearings,
supra note 13, at 3066.
15. See, e.g., Major League Agreement art. I, § 3, reprinted in Blue Book, supra note 13, at
501-02; NFL Const. art. VIII, § 8.13(A), at 29; NHL Bylaws § 17(3), reprintedin 1957 Hearings,
supra note 13, at 3066.
16. For example, following an extremely violent altercation during the 1976 World Hockey
Association playoffs, the coaches of both teams were suspended for losing control of their players.
See Reed, Week of Disgraceon the Ice, Sports Illustrated, Apr. 26, 1976, at 22, A commissioner's
authority to impose such sanctions stems from his power to punish any officer, employee or player
of a club for conduct which he deems "not to be in the best interests" of the game. Major League
Agreement art. I, § 3, reprintedin Blue Book, supra note 13, at 501; accord, NFL Const. art.
VIII, § 8.13(A), at 29. NHL Bylaws § 17(3), reprinted in 1957 Hearings, supra note 13, at 3066;
NBA Const. cl. 43, reprinted in 1957 Hearings, supra note 13, at 2943. Baseball further
empowers the commissioner to fine a league or a team for any conduct considered detrimental to
the game. See Major League Agreement art. I, § 3, reprinted in Blue Book, supra note 13, at
501-02. Similarly, the commissioner of the NBA may fine a member club "guilty of condtuct
prejudicial or detrimental to the . . . Association." NBA Const. cl. 43, reprinted in 1Q57
Hearings,supra note 13, at 2943. The NFL commissioner is expressly authorized only to fine a
member organization for "violation[s] affecting the competitive aspects of the game." NFL Coast.
art. VIII, § 8.13(A)(4), at 29. However, he may refer any disciplinary matter to the league's
executive committee along with any disciplinary recommendations that he deems appropriate
NFL Const. art. VIII, § 8.13(B), at 30. The executive committee may implement all or any part
of the commissioner's suggestions as it sees fit. Id.
17. Panel on Research on Deterrent and Incapacitative Effects, National Research Council,
greater consequence.1 8 League-administered sanctions are, in theory, capable
of being both certain and severe. Because disciplinary decisions are made by a
single individual with a working knowledge of the rules and customs of the
game, sanctions may be imposed uniformly and predictably. ,9 Moreover, one
option open to a commissioner is to suspend players guilty of unnecessarily
violent conduct.20 Such sanctions affect a team's competitive ability and
could, therefore, be quite severe. 2'
Unfortunately, internally imposed sanctions have been relatively
unsuccessful in quelling sports violence. 22 This failure may be due to the fact that
league sanctions against violence have, in practice, been neither certain nor
severe. Disciplinary rules which leave little doubt that specific conduct will be
punished have enjoyed some success. 23 Automatic penalties for misconduct,
however, are the exception rather than the rule. 24 Sanctions left to the
commissioners' discretion have not been as successful as mandatory
penalDeterrence and Incapacitation: Estimating the Effects of Criminal Sanctions on Cnme Rates l
(A. Blumstein. J. Cohen. & D. Nagin eds. 1978),
18. See, e.g., Andenaes, The GeneralPreventive Effects of Punishment, 114 V Pa L Rev
949, 964-65 (1966); Antunes & Hunt, The Deterrent Impact of Criminal Santons Some
Implications for CriminalJustice Policy. 51 J Urb L 145. 160-61 (1973)
19. See J. Weistart & C. Lowell. The Law of Sports § 5.0Q. at 658 n 933 tl79 The
commissioner's expertise would be especially valuable in deciding the close cases which may anme
in the area of sports violence. In hockey, for example, the difference between a perfecth legal
"check" and illegal contact may depend upon the exact positioning of the player's stick or the
location of the puck. See National Hockey League, Official Rule Book §§ 6(45). (48), at 52, 53
(The Sporting News pub. 1979)
. Subtle distinctions may be difficult for someone with a lesser
knowledge of the game to perceive. See notes 67-71 infra and accompanying text
20. See J.Tatum & W Kushner, They Call Me Assassin 241 tW)791; Violence in Sports. supra
note 2, at 786.
21. See J.Tatum & W. Kushner, supra note 20. at 241. l'iolence in Sports. supra note 2, at
22. See Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2. at 33, Letourneau & Manganas. I'ol0enc In Sports
EvidentiarvProblems in CriminalProsecutions, 16 Osgoode Hall L.J. 577. 598 tl98. Theories
of Recovery, supra note 8,at 710; Violence in Sports, supra note 2. at 786. 12 Ga L Rev 38U.
390 (1978). But see Hechter, The CriminalLaw and liolence in Sports. 1 Cnm L Q 425. 43Y
(1977) (according to Alan Page, an NFL player, "(tlhe league [NFLI has done an effective job to
enforce the rules to the extent that the' pretty well eliminate fighting in
games-i23. An NBA rule imposing an automatic fine on any player or coach charged wvith a technical
foul led to a 25% decrease in the number of such fouls. See N Y Times, Oct. 7.1975, at 31. col
1. An NFL rule imposing an automatic fine on any player leaving the bench when a fight is in
progress on the playing field has apparently enjoyed similar succes. Ser Arbitration In
Prqfessional Athletics, in Arbitration of Interest Disputes-Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Annual
Meeting of the National Academy of Arbitrators 108. 135-36 (B Dennis & G Somers eds 19731
(presentation of Theodore W. Kheel. Labor Counsel to the NFL Management Council) The
litigation engendered by this rule when challenged by the NFL Player's Association illustrates the
potential impact of such unions on league rulemaking procedures. See NFL Players Ass'n v
NLRB, 503 F.2d 12 (8th Cir. 1974). The NHL has implemented several rules which impose
automatic fines or penalties for their violation. See National Hockey League, Official Rule Book
(The Sporting News pub. 1979)
. The effect of these rules, however, does not appear to have
24. Most sanctions are left to the discretion of the league commissioners- See notes I3-1
supra and accompanying text.
ties. 25 Moreover, violent conduct is often not dealt with severely by the
commissioners. 26 Generally, suspensions are short2 7 and fines are nominal. 28
In contrast, involvement with gambling is dealt with far more severely.
Suspensions for gambling activity have ranged from one-half season to
permanent ineligibility. 29 It may be argued that the effect of betting and
25. In hockey, for example, the individual record for most penalty minutes amassed in a
single season increased from 153 minutes in the 1967-68 season to 472 minutes in the 1974-75
season. See Kennedy, Wanted: An End to Mayhem, Sports Illustrated, Nov. 17, 1975, at 20.
Although league officials admit to calling only a fraction of the violations which occur during a
game, the 1974-75 NIL season was marred by 22,329 minutes in penalties, a 25% increase over
the previous year. See Surface, Turn Off the Mayheml, Reader's Digest, Mar. 1976, at 32. A
study of serious injuries in professional football revealed that the number of injuries requiring it
player to miss two or more games increased 25% from 1973 to 1974, the last year of the study
See Yeager, The Savage State of Sports, Physician & Sportsmed., May, 1977, at 96. The
failure of league-imposed sanctions to have any significant effect on violence is further evidenced
by the rash of incidents that have plagued both hockey and basketball early in the 1979-80
seasons. In hockey, several members of the Boston Bruins were fined and suspended following a
post-game brawl with fans at New York's Madison Square Garden. See N.Y. Times, Jan. 31,
1980, § A, at 17, col. 5 (one player fined $500 and suspended for eight games; two players fined
$500 and suspended for six games; remaining players fined between $200 and $500). As a result of
this incident, a lawsuit was filed by several fans against the players involved, both the New York
Rangers and the Boston Bruins, the NHL, Madison Square Garden, and the City of New York.
See N.Y. Times, Jan. 27, 1980, § 5 (Sports), at 1, col. 6, at 8, col. 6. Less than two weeks litter,
Ed Hospodar of the New York Rangers was fined $500 and suspended for three games for
violently shoving an official in an attempt to get at an opposing player. His suspension
immediately followed an automatic one game suspension he had served for accumulating his
second and third game misconduct penalties of the season. See N.Y. Times, Jan. 12, 1980, at 17,
col. 1. Similarly, Behn Wilson of the Philadelphia Flyers was recently fined and suspended for
three games after incurring his third and fourth game misconduct penalties of the season for his
participation in an altercation during a game. N.Y. Times, Feb. 14, 1980, § B, at 22, col 5. In
the early stages of the 1979-80 basketball season. NBA Commissioner Lawrence O'Brien
suspended George McGinnis of the Denver Nuggets for ten days without pay for intentionally
running into an official following a disputed call. N.Y. Times, Dec. 21, 1979, § A, at 29, col. I
See also N.Y. Times, Dec. 27, 1979, § B, at 9, col. 5 (suspension cut to six days). The
commissioner also fined Gene Shue, the coach of the San Diego Clippers, $3500 and suspended
him for one week for assaulting a referee, N.Y. Times, Jan. 10, 1980, § D, at 17, col. 1, and fined
players Dave Cowens and Wayne Rollins $2500 and $1500, respectively, for fighting during a
game. See Boston Globe, Jan. 17, 1980, at 59, col. 1.
26. See note 25 supra.
27. See J. Weistart & C. Lowell, supra note 19, § 5.09, at 657-58 & n.932. But see N.Y
Times, Dec. 21, 1979, § A, at 29, col. I (Kermit Washington suspended for 60 days for punching
28. The maximum fine which may be imposed against a major league baseball player or an
NHL player is $500. See Major League Agreement art. I, § 3(c), reprinted in Blue Book, supra
note 13, at 502; NHL Bylaws § 17(3), reprintedin 1957 Hearings,supra note 13, at 3066. But see
N.Y. Times, Dec. 21, 1979, § A, at 29, col. 1 (Kermit Washington fined $10,000 for punching
Rudy Tomjanovich). The deterrent effect of larger fines is questionable in light of the salary levels
in professional athletics. See notes 103-04 infra and accompanying text. See also J, Tatum & W
Kushner, supra note 20, at 240-41; Kennedy, supra note 25, at 21. This is especially true if it
player is reimbursed or the fine is paid by his team. See J. Tatum & W. Kushner, supra note 20,
at 240-41; Kennedy, supra note 25, at 21. Such activity is, however, generally prohibited. See,
e.g., NFL Const. art. IX, § 9. 1(C)(5), at 34.
29. Baseball player Dennis McLain was suspended for half of a season for his gambling
bribery on the outcome of a particular athletic contest can be more
detrimental to sports than any amount of violence. It is difficult to imagine, however,
that a deliberate and violent attack upon an opposing player is any less
detrimental to the game than a player's mere association with known
gamblers30 or a player's betting on games in which he is not a participant. 31
Many commentators believe that league officials are afraid to impose
sanctions which would curb violence because to do so may hurt the members
of the league financially. 32 Professional athletics has generally become a
profitable business enterprise. 3 3 It is important to a sports franchise,
therefore, that attendance levels and spectator interest remain high; if a team's star
player is suspended for a long period of time, both fan attendance and interest
may wane. Furthermore, it has been noted that violence actually spurs
spectator interest. 34 Consequently, a reduction in violence may lead to a
reduction in ticket sales and television ratings.
For whatever reason, "the token fine or penalty [imposed as a league
associations and activities. See N.Y. Times, Apr. 2, 1970. at 48. col. I. Football players Paul
Hornung and Alex Karras were suspended for eleven months, a period covering an entire season,
for betting on games. See N.Y. Times, Mar. 17, 1964, at 41, col. 1. Football players Merle Hapes
and Frank Filchock were suspended indefinitely for falling to report that they were bribed before
the 1946 championship game. See N.Y. Times, July 14, 1950, at 27, col. 3. The famed Black Sox
scandal in baseball resulted in eight players being banned from the game for life for accepting
bribes before the 1919 World Series. See generally E. Asinof, Eight Men Out (1963). Another
baseball player was banned for life five years later for attempting to bribe an opposing player
before an important game. See N.Y. Times, Apr. 2, 1970, at 48, col. 3. The lifetime suspension
of an NBA player for betting on games in which he participated was upheld in Molinas v,
Podoloff, 133 N.Y.S.2d 743 (Sup. Ct. 1954); see Molinas v. NBA, 190 F. Supp. 241 tS.D.N.Y.
1961) (NBA and member clubs did not violate antitrust laws by refusing to reinstate Molinas)
The rationale behind such strict disciplinary measures has been that the intermingling of
gambling and sport seriously impairs the concept of athletic competition and the reputation of all
sports. See Molinas v. Podoloff, 133 N.Y.S.2d at 746.
30. Dennis McLain's mere association with known gambling figures formed the basis of his
1970 suspension although there was no evidence that McLain bet on baseball games, See N.Y,
Times, Apr. 2, 1970, at 48, col. 1. Similarly, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle once threatened to
suspend Joe Namath, a player with the NFL's New York Jets, if he did not sell his interest in a
night club because "certain things were taking place" there. Newsday, Jan. 13, 1980, Sports, at
10, col. 1, at 11, col. 3. Apparently, the club was frequented by "undesireable customers." See
N.Y. Times, July 19, 1969, at 1, col. 5.
31. Although football players Alex Karras and Paul Hornung were both suspended for an
entire season, there was no evidence that either bet on games in which he was a participant. See
also N.Y. Times, June 11, 1971, at 25, col. I (baseball player Clete Boyer fined $100O for betting
on football games); note 30 supra.
32. See Hechter, supra note 22, at 432, Violence in Sports, supra note 2, at 785
33. For example, each NFL team receives $5 million annually as a result of a $600 million,
four-year contract between the league and major television networks This figure is slightly less
than that which each team generates annually in gate receipts. See N.Y. Times, Dec. 30. 1979, §
5 (Sports), at 7, cols. 5, 6.
34. Speaking on violence in professional hockey, Dr. Walter Menninger, a former member of
Pres. Johnson's National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, noted that
"[m]any of the 'silent majority' who feel so frustrated, angry and helpless today can readily
identify with the beleagured, assaulted hero of the 'war on ice'. They experience a vicarious
satisfaction from the open aggression and mayhem on the ice." Time, Mar. 10, 1975, at 62.
sanction] has been ineffectual in eliminating violence in sports." 3 Thus, the
need for an external deterrent force, such as legal intervention, is apparent.
THE CRIMINAL LAW AND VIOLENCE IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS
Legal intervention is not completely new as a reaction to professional sports
violence. Prior to the civil actions in Hackbart and Tomijanovich, criminal
prosecutions were initiated against several National Hockey League (NHL)
players for violent attacks on opposing players and spectators.3 6 Those who
favor the criminal law as a means of curbing violence in professional sports
argue that "the only effective remedy [against sports violence] lies with the
state, where the capability of meting out effective deterrent sanctions
exists."' 37 This position, however, disregards the importance normally placed
on certainty of punishment as a factor in achieving deterrence.3 8 Prosecutors
have been relatively unsuccessful in their efforts to convict professional
athletes for criminal assault.3 9
The first criminal prosecutions of professional athletes arose in Canada out
of a stick swinging incident between two NHL players during a 1969
exhibition game. Although accounts of the incident differ, 40 it appears to have
begun when Ted Green struck Wayne Maki in the face with a gloved hand. 4 '
Maki apparently retaliated by striking Green in the abdomen with his hockey
stick. 42 A stick fight ensued during which Green was seriously injured. Both
players were criminally charged for their roles in the altercation, and both
were acquitted in separate prosecutions. 43 The trial judge in Regina v. Maki 44
found that Green initiated the stick fight 45 and that Maki simply retaliated in
self defense; 46 the trial judge in Regina v. Green,47 however, found that it was
Maki rather than Green who initiated the incident48 and that Green
sponded merely to protect himself and to warn Maki "not to do what he had
done again."'49 The judge in Green also found that Maki had impliedly
consented to being struck by Green because such conduct was commonplace
in professional hockey.50
In the only criminal prosecution against a professional athlete in the United
States, hockey player Dave Forbes was charged with criminal assault for
beating an opposing player during a game in 197S."' The prosecution,
however, resulted in a hung jury and the charges were subsequently
dismissed.5 2 One year later, NHL player Dan Maloney was acquitted by a
Canadian jury of assault charges arising out of a similar incident."3 Thus,
while criminal prosecutions, or the threat of such action, might encourage rule
changes designed to punish violence 4 and serve as somewhat of a deterrent,
the effect of the criminal law on the problem has been negligible. 55
There are several reasons underlying the failure of the criminal law to deal
effectively with sports violence. State prosecutors have experienced great
difficulty in obtaining testimony sufficient to convict professional athletes of
assault. In both Maki and Green, the courts emphasized that hockey is played
at great speed.5 6 Because of the speed at which most professional athletic
49. Id. at 142.
50. Id. at 140. For a detailed analysis of the consent defense as it applies in athletic
competition, see Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2, at 35; Hechter, supra note 22, at 442-50;
Comment, The Consent Defense: Sports, Violence, and the CriminalLaw, 13 Am. Crim. L. Rev.
235 (1975) [hereinafter cited as Consent Defense]; Consent in Criminal Law, supra note
3751. State v. Forbes, No. 63280 (Minn. Dist. Ct., dismissed Aug. 12, 1975). noted in Flakne &
Caplan, supra note 2, at 34 (co-authored by Forbes prosecutor); Hallowell & Meshbesher. supra
note 12, at 27 (co-authored by chief defense counsel in Forbes case); Hechter, supra note 22, at
431-33; Consent Defense, supra note 50, at 235; Violence in Sports, supra note 2, at 771-72.
Consent in Criminal Law, supra note 37, at 148.
52. State v. Forbes, No. 63280 (Minn. Dist. Ct., dismissed Aug. 12, 1975).
53. Regina v. Maloney, 28 C.C.C.2d 323, 330 (Ont. Co. Ct. 1976).
54. See Hallowell & Meshbesher, supra note 12, at 29.
55. A handful of players have avoided prosecution by pleading guilt%to lesser offenses and
paving fines. During the third game of the 1976 NHL quarterfinal playoff series between the
Philadelphia Flyers and the Toronto Maple Leafs, an altercation arose between Don Saleski and
Joe Watson of the Flyers and several fans. As a result, Saleski was charged with two counts of
assault. Watson was charged with four counts of assault, including two counts of assaulting a
police officer. Another Flyer, Mel Bridgman. was also charged with two counts of assault for his
attack on Toronto player Borje Salming later in the same game. Still another Flyer, Bob Kelly,
was charged with two counts of assault for his part in an incident involving a fan in the following
game. Pursuant to an agreement between the Flyers and the Canadian government, Joe Watson
pleaded guilty to one count of simple assault and was fined $1,000, and Bob Kelly pleaded guilty
to one count of simple assault and was fined $500. The charges against both Saleski and
Bridgman were dropped. Telephone Interview with Gilbert Stein, Gen. Counsel, NHL (Feb. 19,
1980) (transcript on file with the Fordham Law Review). See generally Reed, supra note 16, at
22-24. Similarly, Rick Jodzio of the now defunct World Hockey Association (WHA) was charged
with causing bodily harm with intent to wound for viciously assaulting an opponent during the
1976 WHA playoffs. Id. at 25. Jodzio pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was fined $3,000.
Regina v. Jodzio, No. 01-1824-76 (Que. Ct. Sess. Aug. 17, 1977).
56. Regina v. Green, 16 D.L.R.3d 137, 140 (Ont. Prov Ct 1970). Regina v .Maki,14
D.L.R.3d 164, 165 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970).
contests are played, it is often impossible to find any individual who has
witnessed all the events leading up to a particular incident.5 7 This is true even
of those refereeing the contest.58 The problem is compounded further in the
case of players, coaches and spectators, who may be affected by both the
"excitement of the moment" and personal biases. 5 9 It is difficult, therefore,
even to develop an accurate account of the facts of a case. 60
There are often problems with "[aipplying statutory definitions of intent to
traditional sports activity."' The rules and customs of all professional team
sports permit a significant amount of body contact. 62 As a result, it may be
difficult for a judge or jury to distinguish between an assault and permissible
contact. 63 In sports that permit violent physical contact, many of the
collisions that occur during the course of a game are, in fact, technically
assaults. 64 Moreover, refusal to convict may be spurred by a feeling that,
because violence has become such an integral and accepted part of
professional sports, a player acting in accordance with established practices of the
game does not have the requisite mental state to be found guilty of assault. 65
This is evidenced by the feeling of three of the jurors in the Forbes case that,
under the circumstances, Forbes did not intend to inflict bodily harm. 66
The juries in both the Forbes and Maloney cases had difficulty in deciding
whether the acts in question occurred during the course of the game or out of
play.67 Indeed, there are many aspects of professional athletic contests that
are difficult for the nonsports-minded individual to grasp. 68 The consequent
likelihood of disagreement among jurors69 reduces the prospect of
conviction. 70 Any inconsistent results that might arise because of such unfamiliarity
would only serve to undermine the deterrent effect of criminal prosecutions in
this area.7 1
Many factors play a significant role in fostering violent behavior in
athletics. There is, of course, the inherent competitive nature of the sport itself. 7"
Professional athletes compete for personal accolades and for significant
monetary awards. 73 The tension created by such competition is then compounded
by the significant amount of violence permitted under the rules of most
professional team sports. 74 Finally, violent behavior may be expressly or
implicitly encouraged by team coaches, administrators and owners. 7 5 On
some professional teams " 'the coach does everything he can to get players in
an emotional pitch, which on occasion leads them to do things they might not
normally do, and, might not really want to do.' ,,76 Violence is encouraged
because it serves two very important purposes for professional athletic teams.
First, it sells tickets. Many spectators look upon a fight during a sporting
event as a highlight. 77 Second, aggressive play often intimidates opposing
players, thus giving the aggressor's team a competitive advantage. 7 8
Perhaps the most serious shortcoming of applying the criminal law in the
sports context is its inability to subject to liability those other than the player
who actually inflicted the injury. Vicarious criminal liability is limited to a
small class of cases. 7 9 Generally, when an employer does not authorize or
consent to the commission of criminal conduct he cannot be held criminally
responsible, even though the employee was acting within the scope of his
employment.8 0 Thus, to hold team coaches, administrators or owners
criminally liable for an assault committed by a player, state prosecutors must prove
beyond a reasonable doubt81 that these parties authorized the assault,
conspired with the player to inflict injury on an opposing player, or otherwise
aided or encouraged him to do so. 8 2 Even those who advocate the use of the
hockey teams of the mid-1970's, "sen[t] his men onto the ice looking for a fight." Time, Jan. 6,
1975, at 71, col. 2. The team had several players whose major role was to instill fear in the hearts
of opposing players. One of those players, Dave Shultz, freely admitted that he was "more
valuable [to the team] in the penalty box than ... sitting on the bench." Milwaukee J., Feb. 20,
1975, at 10, col. 3.
79. See State v. Pennsylvania R.R., 84 N.J.L. 550, 554-55, 87 A. 86, 88 (1913) (nuisance);
Commonwealth v. Rovnianek, 12 Pa. Super. Ct. 86, 93-94 (1899) (libel); The Queen v. Stephens,
L.R. 1 Q.B. 702, 704 (1866) (nuisance). In the case of libel, several states have held employers
criminally liable "unless the unlawful publication was made under such circumstances as to
negative any presumption of privity, or connivance, or want of ordinary precaution on his part to
prevent it." Commonwealth v. Morgan, 107 Mass. 199, 204 (1871)(citation omitted); accord,
People v. Fuller, 238 Ill. 116, 135, 87 N.E. 336, 342 (1909); State v. Mason, 26 Or. 273, 280-81,
38 P. 130, 132 (1894); see State v. Pennsylvania R.R., 84 N.J.L. 550, 554, 87 A. 86, 88
(1913) (similar proposition with respect to nuisance). Vicarious criminal liability is also imposed
when it is expressly or impliedly provided by state statute. See W. LaFave & A. Scott, Handbook
on Criminal Law § 32, at 224-27 (1972); Sayre, CriminalResponsibilityfor the Acts of Another,
43 Harv. L. Rev. 689, 712-14 (1930). Such statutes usually prohibit petty misdemeanors and
involve only light monetary fines, see W. LaFave & A. Scott, supra, § 32, at 224-25; Sayre, supra,
at 712, 720, although there have been cases in which the employer was imprisoned. See, e.g., Ex
parte Marley, 29 Cal. 2d 525, 175 P.2d 832 (1946) (employer sentenced to 90 days in jail because
an employee violated a state weights and measures statute); Hershorn v. People, 108 Colo. 43,
113 P.2d 680 (1941) (employer fined $500 and sentenced to 60 days in jail because an employee
violated a statute prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors to minors). But see Commonwealth
v. Koczwara, 397 Pa. 575, 585-86, 155 A.2d 825, 830 (1959), cert. denied, 363 U.S. 848 (1960)
(imprisonment for vicarious liability is a denial of due process under state constitution); R.
Perkins, Criminal Law 815 (1969) (imprisonment imposed on the basis of vicarious liability is
"manifestly unsound"); Sayre, supra, at 717 (vicarious criminal liability offends "deep-rooted
notions" and the "subconscious sense of justice of the man on the street'). With respect to
corporations, the general rule appears to be that in the absence of statutory liability, a corporation
is not criminally responsible for the acts of its employees unless performed, authorized or
consented to by an officer of the corporation or a high-level executive. See United States v.
Hangar One, Inc., 406 F. Supp. 60, 139
(N.D. Ala. 1975)
, rev'd on other grounds, 563 F.2d 115
(5th Cir. 1977); State v. Adjustment Dep't Credit Bureau, Inc., 94 Idaho 156, 158-60, 483 P.2d
687, 689-91 (1971); 2 G. Hornstein, Corporation Law and Practice § 566, at 47 (1959).
80. See State v. Pinto, 129 N.J.L. 255, 257, 29 A.2d 180, 181 (1942); State v. Nelson, 83 S.D.
655, 662, 165 N.W.2d 55, 59 (1969) (quoting State v. Carmean, 126 Iowa 291, 297, 102 N.W. 97.
99 (1905)). See also Blacketer v. State, 485 P.2d 1069, 1072 (Okla. Crim. App. 1971) (similar
proposition with respect to corporate officers).
81. The "reasonable doubt" standard is the standard of proof required to convict any
individual of a criminal charge. See note 87 infra.
82. See People v. Travers, 52 Cal. App. 3d 111, 114, 124 Cal. Rptr. 728, 729(1975);Exparte
Malone, 378 S.W.2d 330, 332 (Tex. Crim. App. 1964).
criminal forum as a means to deter violence in professional sports recognize
that charges against these individuals will encounter serious evidentiary
A conspiracy to use violence is accompanied by a conspiracy to remain silent. Coaches
are often parties to the violence committed by one of their players. It is by no means
easy, however, to prove that a player acted at the request or on the orders of his coach.
More often than not, what the police and the public witness is a coach's failure to even
attempt to control his players. It is true that in law passivity can amount to complicity
But in order to do so, the passive behaviour must be deliberate and have the purpose
of aiding and abetting a crime. In the context of sport, these two components are
almost impossible to prove.83
It may be unrealistic to require players to divulge information that implicates
their coaches and owners. Such behavior is likely to affect the player's
professional career within the league adversely. 4 Nevertheless, it is often
unfair to hold the player solely responsible for an injury to an opposing
Despite these shortcomings, there are aspects of the criminal law that
suggest it may be the most appropriate means of dealing with the problem of
violence in professional sports. Many commentators fear that acceptance of
civil or criminal intervention in the realm of professional sports will open a
floodgate of litigation over the most technical violations of the law, and will
therefore have a drastic effect on athletic competition . 6 The probability of
such an adverse effect is less in the criminal forum than in the civil forum.
Because the burden of proof required to convict an individual of a criminal
charge is greater than that required to find liability in civil cases, 8 7 athletes
are more carefully protected from culpability for frivolous claims in criminal
83. Ltorneau & Manganas, supra note 22. at 599 (footnote omitted). The author' suggest
that "in the absence of evidence to the contrary [a presumption be raised] that the team acts at the
request or under the instruction of its coach. The coach would then have to e.tablth that the
blame lay with the individual players." Id. at 600. Presumptions of this sort have been
established in the past to combat similar evidentiary problems in the United States See, e g,
State v. McCance, 110 Mo. 398, 405. 19 S.W. 648. 649 (18921 (employer presumed to have
authorized employee to sell liquor to minors); State v Pennsylvania R R_ 84 N J L 55u, 555. 87
A. 86, 88 (1913) (railroad company presumed to have knowledge of excessive emisston of smoke
by trains); Verona Cent. Cheese Co. v. NMurtaugh. 50 N Y. 314. 319.20 (1872J)emplo. er
presumed to have authorized employee to sell adulterated milk). There is no indication. however.
that such presumptions have been utilized to establish complicit. for charges as serious as a,,ault
84. Cf. Comment, Discipline in ProfessionalSports: The Need for PlayerProtetlion, Geu
L.J. 771, 793 (1972) [hereinafter cited as Discipline in Sports) (similar point made with respect to
litigation against unfair disciplinary measures).
85. At least one juror in the Forbes case espoused this view When asked why he favored
acquittal, he responded: " 'Just like if I had committed some crime because of my job then my
employer should suffer or should answer [for) it-not me.' "Hallowell & Meshbesher. supra note
12, at 28.
86. See Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2. at 35; Jacobson. supra note 4. at Y5. Nat'l L J .
Sept3, 1979, at 3, col. 1, at 13, col. 3.
87. In criminal cases the prosecution must prove the defendant's guilt b.ond a reasonable
doubt. See Clark & Marshall, A Treatise on the Law of Crimes § 1 04. at 22-23 tM Barnes ed
1967); H. Kerper, Introduction to the Criminal justice System 204 (2d ed 19791 In civl caNes the
plaintiff need only prove that it is more probable than not that the defendant caued the injury
See W. Prosser, Handbook of the Law of Torts § 41, at 242 (4th ed 19711
proceedings. Furthermore, the state has neither the time nor the interest to
litigate unmerited claims. 88 The criminal law also provides the external
control over violence in sports that some believe essential, 9 because criminal
proceedings are instituted by the state prosecutor in the name of the state.
Admittedly, criminal liability should occasionally be imposed against
professional athletes. If an athlete enters the arena intending to maim or
otherwise seriously injure an opposing player, 90 criminal charges are
appropriate. It is doubtful, however, that many professional athletes harbor this
intent. 9' Rather, the conduct that ultimately results in injury is fostered by
the violence which is permitted within the rules of the game, by the fiercely
competitive nature of professional athletics, and by encouragement from
coaches, teammates and even spectators. When this is the case, the civil
forum is a more appropriate means of dealing with the problem.
THE CIVIL FORUM AND VIOLENCE IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS
The civil forum appears to have greater potential than its criminal
counterpart for deterring violence in sports. The lesser burden of proof required in
civil cases92 coupled with the greater flexibility of tort law 93 suggests that an
incidence of success higher than that experienced by state prosecutors in
criminal proceedings may be possible. Moreover, civil actions provide a
compromise between those who favor internal control of professional sports
and those who believe that external control is essential. 94 The criminal law
represents the epitome of external control-the action is instituted by the state
prosecutor and the injured athlete merely plays the role of a witness in the
proceedings. In the civil forum, however, the action may be brought by either
the injured player or his team or by both. 95 Thus, the control is initiated from
within. This situation is favorable because the coaches and players of a
particular sport are more qualified in most cases than a state prosecutor to
determine whether an opposing player or team is guilty of an unacceptable
violation of the rules of the sport. 96
Perhaps the most important advantage of the civil forum is its ability to
subject professional sports teams, owners, administrators and coaches to suit.
These parties may be subject to liability through the doctrine of respondeat
superior, which holds the employer liable for the tortious conduct of his
employees committed in the scope of their employment. 97 Moreover, retention
of the employee after the tort was committed, when coupled with other
circumstances, may be considered ratification of the act and as such may
subject the employer to individual liability for punitive damages. 98 Finally,
an employer may be held liable for his own negligence in hiring or for his
failure to control or properly supervise an employee. 99
Several theories are often cited in support of the doctrine of respondeat
superior. 100 Each one may also be used to justify the doctrine's application to
professional sports. Perhaps the most common justification is that the
employer has a "deeper pocket" than his employees and, thus, is more likely to
have the financial resources to satisfy a judgment. 10 ' This is certainly true in
the world of professional sports. Many professional teams are multi-million
dollar franchises, 102 whereas most professional athletes earn between
$62,500103 and $180,000104 per year.
Another principle often called upon in support of respondeat superior is the
entrepreneur theory.105 This theory contemplates that damages incurred
because of the tortious activity of employees should be considered part of the
cost of doing business and treated accordingly.1" 6 Indeed, a professional
sports franchise could insure against such liability' 0 7 or pass the cost on to tile
general public in the form of higher ticket prices. 108
A third rationale relies on an employer's right and duty to maintain control
over his employees. 0 9 According to this view, holding the employer
responsible for his employee's tortious conduct provides an incentive to the employer
to exercise his right of control.'10 This rationale suggests that respondeat
superior may be an extremely valuable weapon in combatting violence in
professional sports. The doctrine makes it possible to punish professional
sports teams and management for encouraging violence. This, in turn, might
then induce management to control the violent tendencies of the players.I I
It is arguable that the inducement to control violence provided by team
liability under respondeat superior is seriously undermined by the team's right
to indemnity from the player causing the injury. Generally, an employer may
sue for indemnification whenever he is held liable for the tortious conduct of
his employees." 2 In practice, however, this right is seldom pursued.'13
Moreover, indemnity actions against professional athletes would have a
deterrent effect all their own. It is doubtful that a team could exercise its right
of indemnity and still successfully encourage violent behavior by its players.
Generally, to hold an employer vicariously liable for his employee's acts a
plaintiff must prove that a master/servant relationship existed between the
two. 1 14 Additionally, the plaintiff must prove that the employee was acting
"within the scope of his employment" when the tort occurred. 11 A master/
servant relationship exists when the employer has control, or the right of
control, over the employee's performance of his duties. 116 Many factors are
considered in determing the existence of control,"i 7 including the extent of the
employer's control over the details of the work,''" the manner of payment, 119
whether the employee is performing in the course of the employer's business
rather than in some collateral capacity, 120 whether the employee offers his
services to the public rather than to one individual, 12 1 and whether the
employer has the right to terminate the employment. '2
When viewed in light of these criteria, it is clear that the relationship
between a professional sports organization and its players is one of master and
servant. To illustrate, a professional football team's coaches and
administrators have significant control over the manner in which the player performs
his assigned duties.' 2 3 This control often extends beyond the course of the
game and covers the player's conduct off the playing field.1 24 The team may,
for example, enforce certain conditioning requirements, 125 establish a public
dress code, 126 or even impose a nightly curfew on its players.' 2 7 The team
also has the right to discipline any player who violates any provision of the
constitution, bylaws, rules or regulations of the league or the team. 28 In
addition, players are generally compensated in equal semi-monthly
installments rather than on a per game basis.' 29 In the event that a player is injured
during a game he continues to receive his salary and the team bears the cost of
medical and hospital care.130 While under contract, a player is barred from
123. See NFL Standard Player Contract cl. 2 [hereinafter cited as NFL Contract], reprinted
in E. Farnsworth, W. Young & H. Jones, Cases and Materials on Contracts 261 (2d ed. Supp.
1972) [hereinafter cited as Farnsworth Supp.] ("The Player agrees that . . . he will play football
. . . as directed by the Club according to: this contract; the Constitution and By-Laws, Rules nd
Regulations of the League and of the Club .... "); Uniform Player's Contract cl. 9(a) [hereinafter
cited as Baseball Contract], reprinted in Am. League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Nat'l
League of Professional Baseball Clubs & Major League Baseball Players Ass'n, Basic Agreement
59-60 (1976) [hereinafter cited as Basic Agreement].
124. See Mauk v. Wright, 367 F. Supp. 961, 964-65 (M.D. Pa. 1973) (regulations imposed by
Washington Redskin coach during pre-season training); Baseball Contract cl. 3(b), reprintedin
Basic Agreement, supra note 123, at 54-55.
125. See Mauk v. Wright, 367 F. Supp. 961, 964-65 (M.D. Pa. 1973) (players required to meet
certain weight requirements); cf. NFL Contract cl. 6, reprintedin Farnsworth Supp., supra note 123,
at 262 (team can terminate contract if, in the opinion of the head coach, the player has not maintained
himself in excellent physical condition); Baseball Contract cl. 7(b)(1), reprintedin Basic Agreement,
supra note 123, at 58 (same).
126. See Mauk v. Wright, 367 F. Supp. 961, 965 (M.D. Pa. 1973) (players required to wear coats
and neckties in all public places); NFL Management Council & NFL Players Ass'n, Collective
Bargaining art. V, § 2. at 10 (teams may make and enforce reasonable rules governing players'
appearance while representing the team both on the field and in public places); Baseball Contract
cl. 3(b), reprinted in Basic Agreement, supra note 123, at 54-55.
127. See Mauk v. Wright, 367 F. Supp. 961, 964 (M.D. Pa. 1973).
128. NFL Contract cl. 4, reprinted in Farnsworth Supp., supra note 123, at 261; see Baseball
Contract, reg. 5, reprinted in Basic Agreement, supra note 123, at 64.
129. NFL Contract cl. 3, reprintedin Farnsworth Supp., supra note 123, at 261; see Baseball
Contract cl. 2, reprintedin Basic Agreement, supra note 123, at 53-54.
130. NFL Contract cl. 14, reprintedin Farnsworth Supp., supra note 123, at 263; see Baseball
Contract, regulation 2, reprintedin Basic Agreement, supra note 123, at 63. This clause strongly
suggests that the team and the player contemplate the existence of a master and servant relationship.
Independent contractors are generally not covered by workman's compensation laws. See Holman
Enterprise Tobacco Warehouse v. Carter, 536 S.W.2d 461, 462-63 (Ky. 1976); In re Dudley, 256
A.2d 592, 594 (Me. 1969); Cromwell Gen. Contractor, Inc. v. Lytle, 222 Tenn. 633, 641-42, 439
S.W.2d, 598, 602 (1969). But cf. Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 152, § 1(4) (Michie/Law. Co-op 1976)
(professional athletes excluded from definition of "employee" under Massachusetts workman's
compensation statute when the contract between team and player provides for the payment of wages
during any disability arising out of such employment). The Restatement (Second) of Agency provides
that the contemplation of the parties should be considered in determining whether a master and
servant relationship exists between them. Restatement (Second) of Agency § 220(2)(i), Comment h
(1958); accord, Nicholas v. Moore, 570 P.2d 174,
177 (Alaska 1977
). See also Taylor v. Local No. 7,
Int'l Union of Journeyman Horseshoers, 353 F.2d 593, 600 (4th Cir. 1965) (horseshoers' belief that
they were independent contractors considered although court determined that employer/employee
playing football or participating in any other sporting event for another
employer or on his own behalf without the team's prior consent. 13' Finally,
the team may terminate a player's contract if he fails to exhibit the skill
required of a professional football player. 132 The combination of all these
factors tends to establish the existence of a master/servant relationship.
The second element of the plaintiff's respondeat superior claim is that the
act occurred within the scope of the servant's employment. The term "within
the scope of employment"'133 is used to convey a rather nebulous concept
incapable of precise definition. "It is . . . no more than a bare formula to
cover the unordered and unauthorized acts of the servant for which it is found
to be expedient to charge the master with liability, as well as to exclude other
acts for which it is not."' 134 The Restatement (Second) of Agency attempts to
provide some guidance: "To be within the scope of the employment, conduct
must be of the same general nature as that authorized, or incidental to the
conduct authorized."'1a Nevertheless, the success of a suit against a
professional athletic team, owner or coach under respondeat superior is heavily
dependent upon the facts of the case and the jurisdiction in which the action
For example, if a football player recklessly or intentionally 36 injures an
opposing player while executing a block or a tackle, both requirements of the
respondeat superior doctrine would appear to be met-an employment
relationship exists between the player and the team' a" and the act causing the
relationship did exist between horseshoers and trainers), cert. denied, 384 U.S. 969 (1966), Cape
Shore Fish Co. v. United States, 330 F.2d 961, 969-70 (CL Cl. 1964) (fact that owner of scallop boat
insured against claims by captain and crew for accidents at sea, coupled with the fact that captain did
not believe that he needed to insure against the possibility of such accidents, indicated that parties
believed an employer/employee relationship existed between them).
131. NFL Contract cls. 3, 5,reprinted in Farnsworth Supp.,supra note 123, at 261, 261-62;see
Baseball Contract cls. 5(a), (b), reprintedin Basic Agreement. supra note 123, at 56. In football, the
commissioner's consent is also required before a player can play football for an employer other than
his team. See NFL Contract cl. 5, reprintedin Farnsworth Supp., supra note 123, at 261-2.
132. NFL Contract cI. 6, reprintedin Farnsworth Supp., supra note 123, at 262; see Baseball
Contract cl. 7(b)(2), reprintedin Basic Agreement, supra note 123, at 58.
133. Although "within the scope of employment" is the most commonly used term, courts
frequently use other terms interchangeably. See, e.g., Rusnack v. Giant Food, Inc., 26 Md. App.
250, 261, 337 A.2d 445, 451 (1975) ("course of employment"); Brannaker v. Transamerican Freight
Lines, Inc., 428 S.W.2d 524, 534 (Mo. 1968) ("course and scope of employment').
134. W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 70, at 460.
135. Restatement (Second) of Agency § 229 (1) (1958). Section 229(2) lists several matters that
should be considered in determining whether an act was committed within the scope of
employment, including the time, place and purpose of the act, the previous relations between the
master and servant, whether the act is commonly performed by such servants, whether
performance of the act by the servant was foreseeable, the similarity of the act performed to the act
authorized and the extent of departure from the normal manner of carrying out the master's
business. See Restatement (Second) of Agency § 229(2)(a)-j) (1958). But see notes 133-34 supra
and accompanying text.
136. In Hackbart, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit suggested that
negligent conduct that causes injury in the course of a game is not actionable. Hackbart v.
Cincinnati Bengals, Inc., 601 F.2d 516, 524-25 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 100 S. Ct. 275 (1979); see
notes 7-8 supra and accompanying text.
137. See notes 116-32 supra and accompanying text.
injury-the block or tackle-is clearly authorized. The fact that the player
deliberately tried to injure his opponent does not relieve the team of liability,
as it is well settled that an employer is liable for the intentional torts of his
employees committed within the scope of employment.138 It is also irrelevant
that the act was probably carried out in an unauthorized manner. If it is clear
that the player's action was simply his own manner of accomplishing an
authorized purpose, the team "cannot escape responsibility no matter how
specific, detailed and emphatic [the coach's] orders may have been to the
contrary." 39 Moreover, the team would be held liable even if the player's
action was partially motivated by a desire for personal revenge. In general,
vicarious liability attaches if the emplbouyseien'esssc.o1n40duct was at least partially
designed to carry out his employer's
If the player strikes an opponent when play has ended, however, the team's
liability would not be as clear. Although the employment relationship would
still exist, the act causing the injury would probably be unauthorized. Thus, it
is possible that a jury might find that the player was not acting within the
scope of his employment. The outcome of the case might depend upon how
strictly the jurisdiction in which the suit is brought applies the doctrine of
In jurisdictions that apply the doctrine narrowly, vicarious liability for
unauthorized intentional torts attaches only if the employee was acting in
furtherance of his employer's interest.'41 The employer is held liable only if it
can be shown that "the employee's [act] was in response to the plaintiff's
conduct which was presently interfering with [his] ability to perform his duties
138. See Clark Equip. Co. v. Wheat, 92 Cal. App. 3d 503, 520, 154 Cal. Rptr. 874, 882 (1979);
Pelletier v. Bilbiles, 154 Conn. 544, 547, 227 A.2d 251, 252 (1967); Davis v. Childers, 134 Ga. App.
534, 536, 215 S.E.2d 297, 299 (1975); Awe v. Striker, 129 111 App. 2d 478, 480-81, 263 N.E.2d 345,
346 (1970); W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 70, at 464. An exception to this rule is sometimes made when
the employee's conduct is highly ohtrageous. See, e.g., Wellman v. Pacer Oil Co., 504 S.W.2d 55
(Mo.) (oil company and filling station owner not liable for injuries suffered by patron when station
attendant shot him), cert. denied, 416 U.S. 961 (1974); Howard v. Zaney Bar, 369 Pa. 155, 85 A.2d
401 (1952) (employer not liable for injuries sustained by patron when shot by employee bartender).
But see Monk v. Veillon, 312 So. 2d 377 (La. Ct. App. 1975) (lounge operator held liable for injuries
sustained by patron when bouncer shot him in leg).
139. W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 70, at 461 (footnote omitted); see Ohio Farmers Ins. Co. v,
Norman, 122 Ariz. 330. 331-32, 594 P.2d 1026, 1027-28 (Ct. App. 1979); Richard v. Illinois Bell Tel.
Co., 66 IIl. App. 3d 825, 847, 383 N.E.2d 1242, 1259 (1978); Rusnack v. Giant Food Inc., 26 Md.
App. 250, 264, 337 A.2d 445, 453 (1975); Restatement (Second) of Agency § 230 (1958).
140. See Edgewater Motels, Inc. v. Gatzke, 277 N.W.2d 11, 17 & n.6 (Minn. 1979); Best
Steel Bldgs., Inc. v. Hardin, 553 S.W.2d 122, 128 (Tex. Civ. App. 1977); Combined Ins. Co. v.
Sinclair, 584 P.2d 1034, 1041 (Wyo. 1978); W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 70, at 461; Restatement
(Second) of Agency § 236, Comment a, Illustration 1 (1958).
141. See, e.g., Sandman v. Hagan, 261 Iowa 560, 568-69, 154 N.W.2d 113, 118 (1967) (court
recognized "modern trend" to impose liability on employers whenever tort was committed "because
of the employment situation" but refused to extend vicarious liability this far; "[tlhe employment
must be something more than the mere occasion for the fracas'); Williams v. Community Drive-In
Theater, Inc., 214 Kan. 359, 366, 520 P.2d 1296, 1301-02 (1974); Miller v. Federated Dep't Stores,
Inc., 364 Mass. 340, 350, 304 N.E.2d 573, 580 (1973); Kuehn v. White, 24 Wash. App. 274, -,
600 P.2d 679, 681-83 (1979).
successfully."' 4 2 In these jurisdictions, in the absense of a finding that the
blow was expressly or impliedly authorized, it is doubtful that the team would
be held liable for the player's conduct. Under the circumstances, the player's
response did not eliminate a present interference with his ability to carry out
his assigned duties. It is irrelevant whether the blow was unprovoked or was
designed to punish the opposing player for past offenses. In either case, the
team would not be liable for any injury that the opponent may have
Other jurisdictions, however, apply respondeat superior more liberally
when dealing with intentional torts. Some jurisdictions hold the employer
responsible for an employee's intentional misconduct if it is incidental to the
performance of the employee's duties.' 44 Under this standard, if a player
strikes an opponent out of anger and frustration developed over the course of
the game, the team may be subject to liability.14s Still other jurisdictions
appear to have replaced the traditional requirement of "within the scope of
employment" with the much broader workmen's compensation standard,
which holds the employer liable for all tortious acts committed by the
employee "arising out of the employment."'1 4 6 In these jurisdictions, it appears
that liability is imposed on the employer simply because the employee was in
a position to commit the act as a result of his employment.' Under this
142. Miller v. Federated Dep't Stores, Inc., 364 Mass. 340. 350. 304 N E.2d 573. 580 41973)
143. See Miller v. Federated Dep't Stores. Inc.. 364 Mass. 340, 350. 304 N E 2d 573, 580 1173)
(employer not liable for employee's assault on plaintiff customer although there was some evidence
that in the past plaintiff had interfered with employee in the performance of his duties). Averill v
Luttrell, 44 Tenn. App. 56, 60-61, 311 S.W.2d 812, 814 (1957) (minor league baseball team not
liable for assault by player on an opponent in response to opponent's act of throwing bat toward
144. See, e.g., Lyon v. Carey, 533 F.2d 649.652 (D.C. Cir. 19761 (employee's attack spurred by a
dispute which arose "naturally and immediately . . . about two items of great significance in
connection with his job"); LeBrane v. Lewis, 292 So. 2d 216. 218 (La. 19741 tasault was"reaonably
incidental" to the performance of supervisory employee's duty to fire subordinate emplo. ees. Lange
v. National Biscuit Co., 297 Minn. 399, 404, 211 NW.2d 783, 786 (1731) temployer liable for
employee's assault "when the source of the attack is related to the duties of the employee and the
assault occurs within work-related limits of time and place")
145. See, e.g., LeBrane v. Lewis, 292 So. 2d 216 (La. 1974) temploxer held liable for injuries
sustained by plaintiff, a former employee, in an altercation with a supervisory employee soon after
the plaintiff's discharge even though the two had agreed to go outside and fight)
146. Carrv. WilliamC. CrowellCo., 28Cal. 2d652.654. 171 P.2dS. 7t194t)
(Traynur. J see
Rodgers v. Kemper Constr. Co., 50 Cal. App. 3d 608, 621, 124 Cal Rptr 143. 150 1975)
, Coats v
Construction & Gen. Laborers Local No. 185, 15 Cal. App. 3d 908. 913. 9J3Cal Rptr 63Yt.641
(1971). The only oiher court to apply the workman's compensation standard to respondeat ,uperor
cases appears to be the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit In Ira S Buhe. &
Sons, Inc. v. United States, 398 F.2d 167 (2d Cir. 1968). a drunken Coast Guard seaman who was not
on duty opened three water intake valves on a dn dock located near his ship As a result, the ship slid
off the block upon which it was perched and crashed into the drydock wall. The owner of the dr)dot k
subsequently sued the United States for the damage done to the wal. The court held for the plaintiff.
reasoning that "[tlhe proper test here bears resemblance to that which limits liabtlit for
workmen's compensation . . . . The employer should be held to expect risks. to the publi also.
which arise 'out of and in the course of' his employment of labor " Id at 171-72 (quoting 2 F
Harper & F. James, supra note 100, § 26.7. at 1377-781.
147. SeeCarrv.William C. CrowellCo 28Cal, 2d652,656. 171 P 2dS. 7t(1481tTra~nor.J
approach, the team's liability for any unauthorized blow delivered by one of
its players is almost certain.
Because the incident giving rise to the Tomjanovich suit occurred in
California, the case was decided under the law of that state, a jurisdiction
which adopts a very liberal construction of respondeat superior. 148 Thus, it is
difficult to determine what the result of the Tomjanovich case-insofar as it
held the team liable on the basis of respondent superior-might have been in
another jurisdiction. This is especially ;rue in light of two earlier cases
involving minor league baseball teams. kIn Atlanta Baseball Co. v.
Lawrence, 149 a spectator brought an action against a minor league baseball team
for injuries suffered when a player, allegedly responding to catcalls and
criticism of his play, went into the stands and assaulted the spectator. ISO The
court held that the team could not be held liable under respondeat superior
because the assault "was not within the scope of [the player's] employment nor
in the prosecution of his master's business, but was his own personal affair in
resenting a real or fancied insult.'' 1 Similarly, in Averill v. Luttrell, 152 a
minor league baseball player sued an opposing player and his team for
injuries suffered when the defendant player struck him in the back of the
head during a game. Relying heavily on Atlanta Baseball,'- 3 the court
dismissed the action against the team, characterizing the assault as "a wilful
independent act on Averill's part, entirely outside the scope of his duties."'14
Although these cases can be distinguished from Tomjanovich in a variety of
ways,155 the most compelling distinction appears to be that they were decided
in jurisdictions following a stricter approach to respondeat superior,
If it is established that the player's intentional or reckless misconduct
occurred within the scope of his employment, the team may be liable for
punitive damages. Punitive damages are often awarded when it is evident
that the tortfeasor deliberately tried to injure the plaintiff or otherwise acted
with a conscious disregard for the safety of others. 156 In some jurisdictions, an
("defendant's enterprise required an association of employees with third parties, attended by the risk
that someone might be injured. 'The risks of such associations and conditions were risks of the
employment.' "(quoting Leonbruno v. Champlain Silk Mills, 229 N.Y. 470, 472, 128 N.E. 711,711
(1920) (Cardozo, J.))).
148. See Court's Instructions to the Jury at 8, Tomjanovich v. California Sports, Inc., No.
H-78-243 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 17, 1979); note 146 supra and accompanying text.
149. 38 Ga. App. 497, 144 S.E. 351 (1928).
150. Id. at 498-99, 144 S.E. at 352.
151. Id. at 499, 144 S.E. at 352.
152. 44 Tenn. App. 56, 311 S.W.2d 812 (1957).
153. Id. at 62-63, 311 S.W.2d at 815.
154. Id. at 61, 311 S.W.2d at 814.
155. One distinction is that Atlanta Baseball and Averill involved baseball, one of the least
violent of all sports, rather than basketball. Because basketball is also generally not considered a
violent sport, however, this distinction is weak. It should also be noted that Atlanta Baseballand
Averill were decided 50 and 20 years ago, respectively. Because Tomnjanovich was decided In an
atmosphere of intensive athletic violence, it was arguably more reasonable to consider such an
outburst within the scope of employment.
156. See Kelite Prods., Inc., v. Binzel, 224 F.2d 131, 143-44 (5th Cir. 1955); Honaker v.
Leonard, 325 F. Supp. 212, 214
(E.D. Tenn. 1971)
; W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 2, at 9-10. Four
states reject the doctrine ofpunitive damages. See Baggett v. Richardson, 473 F.2d 863, 865 (5th Cir.
employer is held liable for punitive damages whenever an employee, while
acting within the scope of his employment, commits a tort for which punitive
damages may be assessed. 15 7 In other jurisdictions, an employer cannot be
held liable for punitive damages in the absence of proof that he or his
responsible representative was guilty of a wrongful act.' 8 In these
jurisdictions, punitive damages will lie against the employer if it is found that the
employee's tortious conduct was authorized prior to its commission or
subsequently ratified. 159
As in the criminal forum, proving that a player was expressly authorized to
assault an opponent would be extremely difficult.160 Under tort law, however,
authority may be implied from the statements or conduct of the employer.' 6 '
As a result, evidence indicating that the team's administrators and coaches
generally condone and encourage violence 162 may be sufficient to render the
team liable for punitive damages. 16 3 In addition, by retaining the player after
the incident, the team may be found to have ratified his behavior and thus
become subject to punitive liability. 1 64 Generally, retention alone does not
1973) (Louisiana); Caperci v. Huntoon, 397 F.2d 799, 801 & n.2 (lst Cir.) (Massachusetts; punitive
damages not recoverable unless authorized by statute), cert. denied, 393 U S. 940(1968); Miller
vKingsley, 194 Neb. 123, 124, 230 N.W.2d 472, 474 (1975); Maki v. Aluminum Bldg. Prods-. 73
Wash. 2d 23, 25, 436 P.2d 186, 187 (1968) (punitive damages not recoverable unless authorized by
157. See Ray Dodge, Inc. v. Moore, 251 Ark. 1036, 1044. 479 .%!,2d 518, 523 (1972);
Wackenhut Corp. v. Greene, 238 So. 2d 431, 432 (Fla. Dist. CL App. 1970); Chupp v. Henderson, 134
Ga. App. 808, 812,216 S.E.2d 366, 368 (1975);Johnson v. Allen. 448 S.W.2d 265, 269 (Mo Ct.
App1969); Stroud v. Denny's Restaurant, Inc., 271 Or. 430, 435. 532 P 2d 7Q0, 793 (1975); Note, Liability
of Employersfor Punitive Damages Resultingfrom Acts of Employees. 54 Chi.-Kent L. Rev 829,
840-41 & n.98 (1978) [hereinafter cited as Punitive Damages]; Note, The Assessment ofPunitite
Damages Against an Entrepreneurfor the Malicious Torts of His Employees, 70 Yale L.J 129b.
1299-1300 & 1299 n.33 (1961) [hereinafter cited as Assessment of Punitive Damages].
158. See Merlo v. Standard Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 59 Cal. App. 3d 5. 18, 130 Cal. Rptr 416,
424-25 (1976); Security Aluminum Window Mfg. Corp. v. Lehman Assocs., Inc.. 108 N.J. Super
137, 146, 260 A.2d 248, 253 (1970); Couillard v. Bank of N.M., 89 N.M. 179, 181. 548 P 2d 459, 461
(1976); PunitiveDamages,supra note 157, at831 & n.20;Assessmentqf PunitiveDamages, supranote
157, at 1300 & n.35.
159. See Merlo v. Standard Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 59 Cal. App. 3d 5, 18, 130 Cal. Rptr. 416,
424-25 (1976); Security Aluminum Window Mfg. Corp. v. Lehman Assocs.. Inc., 108 N.J.
Super137, 146, 260 A.2d 248, 253 (1970); Couillard v. Bank of N.M., 89 N.M. 179, 181. 548 P 2d 459, 461
(1976); Punitive Damages, supra note 157, at 831.
160. See notes 81-83 supra and accompanying text.
161. See Lake Shore &M.S. Ry. v. Prentice, 147 U.S. 101, 114 (1893); Washington Garage Co.
v. Klare, 248 A.2d 681, 683 (D. C. 1968) (quoting District Motor Co. v. Rodill, 88 A. 2d 489,494 (D C.
1952)); W. Seavey, Handbook of the Law of Agency § 21 H (1964) (principal's acquiescence in agent's
conduct implies authority).
162. See notes 75, 78 supra.
163. See Roginsky v. Richardson-Merrell, Inc.. 378 F.2d 832, 844 & n-21 (2d Cir 1967)
(Friendly, J.) (punitive damages may lie against an employer "if the proof warrant[s] a finding that
misconduct by [employees] was so widespread as to indicate authorization or a deliberate practice [by
the employer] of keeping [his] eyes closed"); Allard v. Church of Scientolog'. 58 Cal. App. 3d 439,
452, 129 Cal. Rptr. 797, 805 (1976) (religious organization's general policy condoning harrassment of
organization's "enemies" constituted authorization of malicious prosecution of plaintiff by member),
cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1091 (1977).
164. Holland v. Nelson, 5 Cal. App. 3d 308, 314, 85 Cal. Rptr. 117, 121 (1970). Shoopman v
constitute ratification;16- additional evidence suggesting that the employer had
knowledge of the act and an intent to ratify is necessary. 166 In professional
athletics, this approval may be established in several ways. Coaches and team
administrators have been known to express approval of the violent tendencies
of their players.' 67 Armed with evidence of such statements, it may not be
difficult to convince a jury that by retaining the player the team intended to
ratify his behavior. 68 Ratification may also be established by the team's
retention of the player in light of continuous displays of violence169 or by the
team's failure to take any disciplinary action against the player, 170
Ratification played an important role in the Tomjanovich case. Under
California law, punitive damages cannot be assessed against an employer
Pacific Greyhound Lines, 169 Cal. App. 2d 848,856, 338 P.2d 3, 9(1959); McChristian v. Popkin, 75
Cal. App 2d 249, 256, 171 P.2d 85, 90-91 (1946). The team's contractual obligations to the player do
not require that he be retained at all costs to the team Generally, professional sports contracts
provide that the team may terminate the contract if the player fails to comply with league- or
team-imposed rules and regulations. See NFL Contract cl.;. 4, 6, reprinted in Farnsworth Supp.,
supra note 123, at 261, 262; Baseball Contract cl. 7(b)(1), reprinted in Basic Agreement, supra
note 123. at 58 (team can terminate the contract any time the player "fail[s], refuse[sJ or neglect[s]
to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship").
Moreover, even if the team does not terminate the contract, it may negative any presumption of
ratification by releasing the player while continuing to fulfill its obligations under the contract.
For example, the New York Yankees continued to pay former manager Billy Martin's salary for
several weeks after dismissing him following his involvement in an altercation in a hotel lobby,
See N.Y. Times, Feb. 18, 1980. § C (Sports), at 9, col. 4. As punitive damage awards may be
quite large, the team may choose to take this course of action in order to limit liability. Finally, It
is significant to note that the jury in the Tomjanovich case was expressly instructed that it could
consider the Lakers' retention of Kermit Washington after the incident as evidence of ratification.
See note 173 infra.
165. See, e.g., Woodard v. City Stores Co., 334 A.2d 189, 191
; Abraham v. S.E.
Onorato Garages, 50 Hawaii 628, 635, 446 P.2d 821, 827 (1968).
166. See Witt v. United States, 319 F.2d 704, 710 (9th Cir. 1963) (quoting Tauscher v.
Doernbecher Mfg. Co., 153 Or. 152, 164, 56 P.2d 318, 323 (1936)); Woodard v. City Stores Co., 334
A.2d 189, 191 (D.C. 1075); Abraham v. S.E. Onorato Garages, 50 Hawaii 628, 635, 446 P.2d 821,
167. While coaching the Philadelphia Flyers, Fred Shero was asked to comment on a
benchclearing brawl which arose out of a fight between Orest Kindrachuk of the Flyers and an opposing
player. Shero responded: " 'Some people say I should have been fined for not controlling my
players . . . Hell, I would have fined them if they hadn't gone in to support Kindrachuk.'"
Time. Jan. 6, 1975. at 71. col. 2; see notes 75-78 supra and accompanying text
168. Expressions of approval of a violent act already committed would not aid the prosecutor in a
criminal action against the coach or team official. An individual cannot aid or abet the
commission of a completed crime. Roberts v. United States, 416 F.2d 1216, 1221 (5th (ir. 1969),
Moreover, ratification does not establish the basis of criminal liability. United States v. Food &
Grocery Bureau, 43 F. Supp. 966, 971 (S.D. Cal. 1942); Cook v. Commonwealth, 141 Ky 439,
441, 132 S.W. 1032, 1032 (1911).
169. See, e.g., Coats v. Construction & Gen. Laborers Local No. 185, 15 Cal. App. 3d 908,
913-14, 915-16, 93 Cal. Rptr. 639, 642, 643 (1971) (union president had knowledge of violent
propensities of two union employees prior to their assault of a union member).
170. See Jameson v. Gavett, 22 Cal. App. 2d 646, 650, 71 P 2d 937, 939 (1937) (employer
discussed assault with employee and expressed no disapproval of the act); May Dep't Stores Co. v.
Devercelli, 314 A.2d 767, 770 (D.C. 1973) (defendant department store failed to respond to plaintiff's
letter requesting that it repudiate tortious conduct of its employees).
unless the wrongful act requirement' 7 1 is satisfied.' 7 2 Tomjanovich recovered
S1.5 million in punitive damages, with the jury evidently finding sufficient
evidence, including the retention of the defendant player after the incident,173
to conclude that the team ratified his actions.
The rationales underlying respondeat superior strongly support the
application of the doctrine to professional sports. A master/servant relationship
exists between the team and its players and the doctrine appears to apply in
all jurisdictions when tortious conduct occurs in the course of play. When
violence occurs out of play, however, the vagaries of state law make it
difficult to determine the outcome of a suit against the team under respondeat
In jurisdictions that adopt a rather stringent approach to the doctrine of
respondeat superior as applied to intentional torts, 174 the player injured by an
opponent's violent outburst may alternatively be able to recover from the
opposing team under theories based on the negligent hiring principle.'75
These theories provide several advantages that may be beneficial in the fight
against professional sports violence.
An employer can be held directly liable to an injured third party if he
himself is negligent or reckless in his hiring practices' 7 6 or in supervising and
controlling his employees. 177 The employer is expected to use reasonable care
in selecting 78 and retaining 79 employees who, as a direct result of the
employment, 180 will be in contact with third persons.' 58 This duty has been
interpreted as requiring a minimal investigation into the prospective
employee's background prior to hiring.' 82 Once the individual is hired, the
employer has a duty to exercise reasonable care in the supervision of his
The Restatement (Second) of Agency states that an employer who
negligently hires a dangerous person to perform a task that puts him in direct
contact with third persons is subject to liability "for harm caused by the
[person's] vicious propensity."' 8 4 This language is particularly appropriate to
the Tomjanovich situation. Prior to the incident resulting in that suit, Kermit
Washington, the basketball player who assaulted Tomjanovich, "was known
as a so-called 'enforcer', and . . . had a reputation or propensity for
unsportsmanlike conduct or vicious physical violence."' 85 It is doubtful his
team was unaware of this reputation. Thus, it may be argued that the team
was negligent in failing to instruct Washington properly and to control his
behavior. Even if the team had no knowledge of his past conduct, however, it
would probably still be subject to liability under the negligent hiring theory,
as a minimal investigation surely would have uncovered Washington's
"vicious propensity. 1 86
The importance of the theories of negligent hiring and supervision in the
context of violence in professional sports cannot be overemphasized. Under
these theories of liability, as opposed to respondeat superior, it is not
necessary that the tort be committed within the scope of employment. The
employer's liability is based on his own misfeasance or nonfeasance rather
than that- of his employee. 187 "Liability results . . . because the employer
antecedently had reason to believe that an undue risk of harm would exist
because of the employment."'1 88 Moreover, because the teams and coaches are
subject to direct rather than vicarious liability, 8 9 no option of indemnity
exists to lessen the deterrent effect of team liability.'9 0 Finally, punitive
damages are also available to the plaintiff under these theories, though only if
the team was at least reckless in its employment of the violent player.' 9'
As noted above, it appears that violent players are hired and violent
conduct is encouraged because violence increases the profitability of
professional team athletics. 192 It is unfortunate that in some jurisdictions teams that
implicitly encourage violence may escape liability under the doctrine of
respondeat superior because the player's conduct is considered outside the
scope of his employment. Theories of recovery based on the negligence of
team administrators and coaches in hiring, supervising and controlling their
players may serve to prevent this injustice.
Advantages of the Civil Forum
The civil forum appears to provide a fair and potentially effective means of
dealing with the problem of violence in professional team sports. The
defendant player is neither required to bear full responsibility for the injury nor
unjustly burdened by the social stigma usually attached to criminal
prosecution and conviction. It is arguable that a team's ability to insure against the
tortious conduct of its players and coaches'" 3 may decrease the deterrent
effect of civil actions brought against the franchise. Increased premiums, the
consequent need to raise ticket prices and the possibility of bad publicity from
having to defend several law suits, however, should combine to make it
worthwhile for the team to exercise control over its players. It is also
important to note that even when recovery is primarily sought from a
defendant team, the player who inflicted the injury is not relieved of liability
for his actions. Deterrence can be effected by holding him legally responsible
The injured player can join, in a single action, both the team and the player
inflicting the injury. In a vast majority of jurisdictions, this can be done either
if the plaintiff has a separate ciuse of action against the team 94 or if the
team's liability is based solely upon the doctrine of respondeat superior. '5
Moreover, some jurisdictions permit apportionment of damages between joint
tortfeasors if a reasonable basis for apportionment exists.' 96 Although it is
generally stated that there is no logical basis for apportioning damages
between employer and employee when the employer's liability is vicarious, 197
apportionment may be possible in those situations when the team is subject to
liability under the negligent hiring or failure to supervise theories. Under
these theories the team is charged with an independent act of negligence. 198 A
jury may be able to determine the extent to which the team's negligence
contributed to the plaintiff's injury.' 99
The apportionment of damages between player and team could have a
significant impact on violence in professional sports. In the normal
employment situation, an employer derives no benefit from a violent employee.
Consequently, if he is held liable to a third person for injuries caused by a
violent employee, he may take action designed to punish the employee for his
conduct. Professional athletic teams, however, do indeed benefit from violent
players 20 0 and, as a result, are not likely to punish them for their behavior. If
the team is held directly liable and damages are apportioned, it is possible to
punish both the team for encouraging violence and the player for behaving
violently. Thus, there is a double dose of deterrence.
It is not suggested that the civil forum can purge professional sports of
violence. Certain factors indicate that violence may continue despite judicial
intervention of any kind. Because tort law differs from one jurisdiction to
another, 20° the results of civil actions against professional athletes and teams
will undoubtedly be inconsistent and unpredictable. For example, a team
playing a game in California may be held liable for an injury inflicted by one
of its players during the game while, under identical circumstances, a team
playing in Massachusetts may not.2 0 2 This uncertainty of result is likely to
reduce the deterrent effect of civil actions in this area.
Furthermore, the success of the civil forum as a means to deter violence in
professional sports depends largely upon the attitudes of the players and
teams toward judicial intervention. Fear that they might be blacklisted
throughout the league as "troublemakers" may discourage players from
initiating lawsuits.2-0 3 Although at least one civil action is currently pending, 2 it
appears that professional athletes have mixed feelings toward judicial
intervention.205 Similarly, reservations concerning the effect that court actions
perform a certain task are arguably easier for a juror to conceptualize than the intricacies which arise
under the rules and customs of most professional sports. See notes 67-71 supra and accompanying
text. Further, because the standard of proof in civil cases is less than in criminal cases, see note 87
supra, a juror need not be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the team's negligence in hiring an
excessively violent player.
200. See notes 77-78 supra and accompanying text.
201. See notes 141-47, 157-59 supra and accompanying text.
202. Massachusetts has adopted the strict approach to respondeat superior as it applies to
intentional torts. See notes 141-42 supra and accompanying text.
203. A similar point has been made with respect to litigation against unfair disciplinary measures
taken by league commissioners. See Discipline in Sports, supra note 84, at 793.
204. Dave Forbes' victim, Henry Boucha, see notes 51-52 supra and accompanying text, has
initiated an action against Forbes, the Boston Bruins and the NHL for personal injuries resulting
from that incident. See Jacobson, supra note 4, at 95. In support of the action against the NHL,
Boucha's attorney reasons that " 'for years they [the NHL] promulgated violence by doing
nothing to deter it. In fact, they have enhanced it.' "Id. The NHL is also currently being sued by
a number of fans as a result of an incident involving several players on the Boston Bruins team in
December, 1979. See note 25 supra. Such actions may induce the league to establish stricter rules
governing violent behavior and, as a result, may have a significant impact on the problem of
professional sports violence.
205. Compare Jacobson, supra note 4, at 95 (Norm Bulaich of the NFL's Miami Dolphins
recognizes the need for some control over unnecessary violence, but does not believe that the courts
FORDHAM LAW REVIEW
may have on league solidarity may discourage litigation by teams.
The best means of deterring violence in professional sports is to make it
unprofitable. Damage awards against players and teams are certainly a step in
this direction. Sanctions that affect the competitiveness of the team, however,
are arguably even more effective. 20 6 Nevertheless, the imposition 20o7f such
measures would appear to be beyond the power of the judiciary.
The civil forum alone cannot rid professional sports of unnecessary
violence. In fact, much of the violence that occurs in sports such as football and
hockey is permitted by the rules of the games. 208 The violence will not subside
unless the leagues enact strict rules regulating violent conduct and impose
severe sanctions against those who violate them. 20 9 It is evident, however,
that in the absence of action by the leagues some immediate action from other
quarters is necessary. At the present time, both internal control and judicial
intervention must combine to quell the violence. Activity that results in an
injury to an opposing player serious enough to warrant stricter punishment
are the proper forum to deal with the problem) and Hechter, supra note 22, at 438 (Dwight White of
the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers vehemently opposed to judicial intervention) with Jacobson, supra
note 4, at 95 (Chris Ward of the NFL's New York Jets would consider going to court if seriously
injured by an opponent's intentional misconduct) and Hechter, supra note 22, at 439 (Alan Page,
currently with the Chicago Bears of the NFL, recognizes that judicial intervention may be
necessary to eliminate the problem).
206. See Violence in Sports, supra note 2, at 786.
207. A court would not suspend a player sua sponte. Rather, the injured player would have to
request that the player causing the injury be enjoined from further play. Injunctive relief, however, is
not designed to punish the defendant for past wrongs but to protect the plaintiff from future injury.
Jenkins v. Pederson, 212 N.W.2d 415, 420 (Iowa 1973); Verdun v. Scallon Bros. Contractors, Inc.,
263 La. 1073, 1078, 270 So. 2d 512, 513 (1972); Sandfield v. Goldstein, 33 A.D.2d 376, 379, 308
N.Y.S.2d 25, 29
(3d Dep't 1970)
, aff'd, 28 N.Y.2d 794, 270 N.E.2d 723, 321 N.Y.S.2d 904 (1971). In
order to qualify for injunctive relief the plaintiff must prove that, in the absence of an injunction,
there is a clear possibility that he will suffer irreparable harm at the hands of the defendant. Outboard
Marine Corp. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 536 F.2d 730, 736-37 (7th Cir. 1976); Lewis v. S.S. Baune,
534 F.2d 1115, 1121 (5th Cir. 1976). In the context of professional sports violence, the injured player
would have to prove that there is a distinct possibility that he will be reinjured some time in the future
due to the defendant player's unusually violent style of play. Such a claim is highly speculative and,
thus, not deserving of injunctive relief. Moreover, even if an injunction were issued, it is not likely to
be so broad as to ban the player causing the injury from all future sports participation. Injunctions are
granted under terms that ensure the protection of all parties whose interests it may affect. Locomotive
Eng'rs v. Missouri-K.-T. R.R., 363 U.S. 528, 532 (196D) (quoting Inland Steel Co. v. United
States, 306 U.S. 153, 157 (1939)); Greater Iowa Corp. v. McLendon, 378 F.2d 783, 799 (8th Cir.
1967). Thus, injunctions designed to deter excessive violence in professional sports are likely to
require that teams not hire individuals solely on the basis of their violent tendencies and that players
refrain from utilizing unnecessarily violent tactics in future games.
208. Jack Tatum. pro football's "assassin," asserts that although he plays violently, he also
abides by the rules of the game. See J. Tatum & W. Kushner, supra note 20, at 11.
209. One such measure may be to deduct points or runs from the score of a team whenever'one of
its players exhibits an unnecessary display of violence. If the player is guilty of blatantly violent
conduct, the team could be forced to forfeit the contest. Of course, the guilty player could befined and
suspended as well. See notes 14-16 supra and accompanying text.
than a nominal fine or short suspension should lead to civil action. To this
end, the players must realize both that they have a right to earn a living
without being assaulted in the process and that they have an obligation to
themselves, to fellow players and to the sport itself to assist in the control of
35. See Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2, at 33.
36. See notes 40-53 infra and accompanying text.
37. Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2, at 34; cf. Regina v Maki, 14 D.L.R. 3d 164 , 167 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ) (participation in athletics should not render an individual immune from criminal prosecution); Violence in Sports, supra note 2, at 786 (growing incidence of violence suggests inadequacy of internal control and need for some form of increased deterrence ); Note, Consent in CriminalLaw: Violence in Sports, 75 Mich. L. Rev. 148 , 148 ( 1976 ) [hereinafter cited as Consent in Criminal Law] (same).
38. See notes 17-18 supra and accompanying text.
39. See notes 40- S3 infra and accompanying text .
40. Compare Regina v. Green , 16 D.L.R. 3d 137 , 139 , 140 - 41 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ) with Regina v . Maki , 14 D.L.R. 3d 164 , 164 - 65 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ).
41. Regina v. Green , 16 D.L.R. 3d 137 , 138 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ); Regina v, Maki , 14 D.L.R. 3d 164 , 164 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ).
42. Regina v. Green , 16 D.L.R. 3d 137 , 138 - 39 ( Ont Prov. Ct . 1970 ). But see Regina v . Maki , 14 D.L.R. 3d 164 , 164 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ).
43. See Regina v. Green , 16 D.L.R. 3d 137 , 143 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ); Regina v . Maki , 14 D.L.R. 3d 164 , 167 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ).
44. 14 D.L.R. 3d 164 (Ont . Prov. Ct. 1970 ).
45. Id . at 165.
46. Id . at 165- 66 . For a discussion of the concept of self-defense as it applies in athletic competition , see Hechter, supra note 22 , at 450-52.
47. 16 D.L.R. 3d 137 (Ont . Prov. Ct. 1970 ).
48. Id . at 141-42.
57. See Ltorneau & Manganas, supra note 22, at 578.
58. In Regina v. Watson , 26 C.C.C. 2d 150 (Ont . Prov. Ct. 1975 ), a case involving an altercation during a juvenile hockey league game, the court warned against overestimating the capacity of officials to witness everything that happens on the ice . Id. at 152-53; see L6torneau & Manganas, supra note 22 , at 578-79.
59. See L6torneau & Manganas, supra note 22, at 578-80.
60. Compare Regina v. Green , 16 D.L.R. 3d 137 , 138 - 41 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ) with Regina v . Maki , 14 D.L.R. 3d 164 , 164 - 65 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ). Although the introduction of videotaped evidence might reduce some of the problems encountered in the prosecution of professional athletes, see L6tourneau & Manganas, supra note 22, at 580-92, it does not solve them completely. There is no guarantee that a violent outburst will be captured on film and, in any event, the difficulty of obtaining evidence of all the events leading up to the incident would remain. As with actual witnesses, different camera angles may produce different accounts of the same incident. Finally, the use of slow motion photography to alleviate problems caused by the speed of the game may create additional difficulties. For example, when replayed in slow motion, a glancing blow delivered during the course of the game may instead appear to be a serious assault .
61. Hallowell & Meshbesher, supra note 12, at 29.
62. Football and hockey present obvious examples. In baseball, whether a collision between two players constitutes obstruction by a fielder or interference by a runner or batter is subject to the umpire's judgement . Official Baseball Rules §§ 7 . 06 , . 09 , at 57-58, 62 - 64 ( The Sporting News pub . 1978 ). In basketball, contact is permitted between players while guarding an opponent or fighting for a rebound . National Basketball Association , Official Rules, Comments II.A.1-2 , at 33-34, reprintedin NBA Guide (The Sporting News pub . 1979 ). The fact that hockey is a contact sport figured significantly in the Maki and Green decisions . See Regina v. Green , 16 D.L.R. 3d 137 , 140 - 41 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ); Regina v . Maki , 14 D.L.R. 3d 164 , 165 (Ont. Prov. Ct. 1970 ).
63. For example, in Regina v. Green , 16 D.L.R. 3d 137 (Ont . Prov. Ct. 1970 ), the trial judge stated that he could not "envision a circumstance where an offence of common assault ... could readily stand on facts produced from incidents occurring in . . . a [professional] hockey game . . Id. at 143.
64. Id . at 140-41; Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2, at 35.
65. See Hallowell & Meshbesher, supra note 12, at 28.
66. N.Y. Times, July 19 , 1975 , at 17, col. 2.
67. See Hallowell & Meshbesher, supra note 12, at 29.
68. Id . The subtle intricacies of each sport take on added significance in light of the admi%. ,on of Gary Flakne, the prosecutor in the Forbes case, that "[tlhe prosecution strategy was to select jurors who were not hockey fans and who had no particular reverence for athletics in general." Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2 , at 34.
69. This is evidenced by the outcome of the Forbes case . See Hallowell & Meshbesher. supra note 12 , at 29.
70. The Forbes case resulted in a hung jury . State v. Forbes, No. 63280 ( Minn. Dist . Ct., dismissed Aug . 12 , 1975 ). In deciding not to retry Forbes, the Hennepin County Attorney considered the likelihood that the jury would again be unable to reach a verdict . See Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2 , at 34.
71. Certainty of punishment is a primary deterrent . See notes 17-18 supra and accompanying text.
72. See , e.g., Hechter, supra note 22 , at 438 (opinion of Dwight White. an NFL player with the Pittsburgh Steelers, expressed during an interview with the author); J. Tatum & W. Kushner, supra note 20, at 24-25 (description of the fierce level of competition that exists between the NFL's Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers).
73. For example, a player on the professional football team that wins the NFL's Super Bowl may earn as much as $35,000 more than a player with a comparable salary on a team that did not advance to the playoffs. See NFL Players Ass'n, Collective Bargaining Agreement arts . XXqXXVIII, at 47- 49 ( 1977 ).
74. See note 62 supra and accompanying text .
75. The former president of one NHL team was known to say that -'[ilf you can't beat [opposing teams] in the alley, you can't beat them on the ice.' " Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2, at 33 (quoting Conn Smythe, former president of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs) .
76. Hechter , supra note 22, at 439 (quoting Alan Page, at the time a defensive lineman with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings) .
77. See note 34 supra.
78. It was often charged that Fred Shero, the coach of the championship Philadelphia Flyer
88. The possibility of players nearing the end of their careers bringing suit to "supplement" their incomes has been mentioned . See Jacobson, supra note 4 , at 95. But see note 96 ittfra.
89. Flakne and Caplan argue that "to suggest that the governing body of a particular sport determine appropriate sanctions for a quasi-criminal or a criminal act would be tantamount to granting the board of directors of General Motors jurisdiction over the determination of guilt or innocence and the appropriate punishment for one of their employees who, while on the job , killed his foreman." Flakne & Caplan, supra note 2 , at 33- 34 . This view, however, is not universally held. Others believe that " '[tihere are two great national institutions which simply cannot tolerate . . . external interference: Our Armed Forces and our . . . sports programs. ' " Slusher, Sport: A PhilosophicalPerspective , 38 Law & Contemp. Prob. 129 , 129 ( 1973 ) (quoting Dr. Max Rafferty, former Superintendent of Public Instruction , State of California).
90. This appears to be the intention that at least one player brings into each game. Jack Tatum "like[s] to believe that [his] best hits border on felonious assault." J. Tatum & W. Kushner, supra note 20, at 11.
91. Dave Elmendorf , a defensive player with the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, suggests that Tatum is " 'a minority of one . ' " Time, Jan. 28 , 1980 , at 69, col. 1.
92. See note 87 supra.
93. For example, vicarious liability is rather limited under criminal law . See notes 79- 80 supra and accompanying text. In contrast, under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer may be held civilly liable whenever his employee commits a tort within the scope of his employment . See notes 115 , 133 - 35 infra and accompanying text.
94. See note 89 supra.
95. Another action arising out of the Tomjanovich incident was initiated by Tomjanovich's employer, the Houston Rockets . Houston Rockets, Inc. v. California Sports, Inc., No. 11 -78-416 (S.D. Tex ., filed Mar. 6 , 1978 ). The suit was subsequently settled out of court.
96. It is arguable that players injured during professional athletic events would be motivated to sue by the prospect of large recoveries or the desire for revenge. The attitudes of players questioned concerning the propriety of judicial intervention in professional sports, however, suggest that abuse of legal process is unlikely. Even those players who recognize that legal intervention may be necessary are quick to point out that this is true only in exceptional cases . See, e.g., Hechter, supra note 22 , at 439 ( NFL's Alan Page suggesting that criminal prosecution would be proper only in the case of aggravated assault), Jacobson, supra note 4 . at 95 ( Chris Ward of the NFL would consider bringing suit only if he were seriously injured by an opponent's intentional misconduct). Moreover, fear that they may be scorned by players and teams throughout the league for bringing suit should discourage players from pursuing unmerited claims . Cf. Discipline in Sports, supra note 84 . at 793 (similar proposition made with respect to litigation against unfair disciplinary measures).
97. W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 70 , at 460; see notes 115, 133 - 35 inrfra and accompan)ing text.
98. See notes 156-59 infra and accompanying text.
99. See notes 176-83 infra and accompanying text.
100. See generally T. Baty, Vicarious Liability 146-54 ( 1916 ); 2 F. Harper & F. James , The Law of Torts §§ 26 . 1 -.5, at 1361- 74 ( 1956 ); W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 69 , at 459.
101. See T . Baty, supra note 100, at 154; 2 F. Harper & F. James, supra note 100, § 26 .5, at 1370-71; W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 69 , at 459.
102. See note 33 supra.
103. See N.Y. Times , Dec. 30 , 1979 , § 5 (Sports), at 6. col. I (inset! average ,atary of professional football player in 1978 ).
104. Id . This figure represents the average salary of a professional basketball player in 1979. In that year, the average salary of a major league baseball player was $121,000, while in the NHL, the average salary was $ 102 , 500 . Id.
105. See Lange v. National Biscuit Co., 297 Minn . 39 , 403 , 211 N.W.2d 783 , 785 ( 1973 ) ; Morris, The Torts of an Independent Contractor , 29 IllL .. Rev . 339 , 340 - 41 ( 1934 ).
106. Johnston v. Long, 30 Cal. 2d 54 , 64 , 181 P.2d 645 , 651 ( 1947 ) (Traynor , J. ) ("The principal justification for the application of the doctrine of respondeatsuperior...is the fact that the employer may spread the risk through insurance and carry the cost thereof as part of his costs of doing business" ); 2 F. Harper & F. James, supra note 100, § 26 .1, at 1363-64; W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 69 , at 459; Douglas, Vicarious Liability and Administration of Risk (pt. 1) , 38 Yale L.J. 584 , 585 ( 1929 ); Morris, supra note 105, at 340-41.
107. See 2 F. Harper & F. James, supra note 100, § 26 .1, at 1364 n.12; W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 69 , at 459; Morris, supra note 105, at 340.
108. See 2 F. Harper & F. James, supra note 100, § 26 .1, at 1364 n.12; W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 69 , at 459; Morris, supra note 105, at 340-41.
109. See 2 F. Harper & F. James, supra note 100, § 26 .3, at 1366.
110. Id . at 1368-69. W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 69 , at 459; Morris, supra note 105, at 341
111. But see notes 77-78 supra and accompanying text.
112. See Fritts v. Safeway Stores , Inc., 408 F. Supp . 828 , 831 - 32 ( D. Or . 1976 ); Clark v . Brooks , 377 A.2d 365 , 371 (Super. Ct. 1977 ), aff'd sub nora . Blackshear v. Clark, 391 A.2d 747 (Del . 1978 ); Restatement of Restitution § 96 ( 1937 ).
113. See Wills , Joinder of Master and Servant , 23 Ohio St. L .J. 488 , 498 - 99 ( 1962 ). The author states that "the master seldom attempts to enforce his right of indemnity against the servant . Policies of liability insurance carried by the master often protect the servant as well. And even when the servant is not protected by the master's liability insurance policies, there are often considerations which make it inadvisable for the master to assert his right of indemnity against the servant . " Id.; accord , 2 F. Harper & F. James, supra note 100, § 26 .1, at 1363 ( except where employer is held vicariously liable for the torts of an independent contractor, the right of indemnity "is purely theoretical and is not pursued" ).
171. See notes 158-59 supra and accompanying text.
172. See Merlo v. Standard Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 59 Cal. App. 3d 5 , 18 - 19 , 130 Cal. Rptr 416 , 424 - 25 ( 1976 ).
173. The jurors were expressly instructed that they could consider retention as some evidence of ratification. Court's Instructions to the Jury at 13, Tomjanovich v. California Sports . Inc.. No. H- 78 -243 (S.D. Tex . Aug. 17 , 1979 ).
174. See notes 141-43 supra and accompanying text.
175. See generally Restatement (Second) of Agency § 213 ( 1958 ) ; Restatement (Second ) of Torts § 317 ( 1965 ) ; Note, The Responsibility qf Employers for the Actions of Their Employees: The Negligent Hiring Theory of Liability, 53 Chi .-Kent L. Rev . 717 ( 1977 ).
176. See , e.g., Colwell v . Oatman , 32 Colo. App. 171 . 176, 510 P. 2d 464. 466 - 67 ( 1973 ) (defendant employment agency selected unfit employee to perform temporary labor for plaintiff); Easley v . Apollo Detective Agency, Inc., 69111. App. 3d 920 , 932 , 387 N.E.2d 1241 , 1248 ( 1979 ) (employer's reckless hiring practices led to employment of an individual who had previously been arrested twice to serve as an armed securitv guard); Evans v . Morsell , 284 Md. 160 , 166 , 395 A2d480 , 483 ( 1978 ) (quoting Fleming v . Bronfin , 80 A.2d 915 , 917 (D.C . 1951 )); Restatement tSecond) of Agency § 213 (b) ( 1958 ).
177. See International Distrib. Corp. v. American Dist. Tel. Co.. 569 F.2d 136 , 139 -40 D C. Cir . 1977 ) (reversed and remanded because jury might conclude that defendant burglar alarm company inadequately supervised its employees); Sanchez v . United States. 50t) F 2d 702 , 705 ( 10th Cir . 1974 ) (master must exercise reasonable care to control his servants for the protection of third parties); Parr v . McDade , 161 Ind. App. 106 , 117 - 18 , 314 N.E.2d 768 , 774 ( 1974 ) (quoting Restatement (Second ) of Torts § 317 ( 1965 )) (landlord permitted employee residing in building to use an open-flame gas heater); Restatement (Second) of Agency § 213(c), (d) t1958) . Restatement (Second) of Torts § 317 ( 1965 ).
178. See Colwell v. Oatman , 32 Colo. App. 171 , 176 , 510 P. 2d 464. 466 - 67 ( 1973 ); Evans v
186. Restatement (Second) of Agency § 213 , Comment d ( 1Q58 ).
187. See Lange v. 13& P Motor Express , Inc., 257 F. Supp . 319 , 323 - 24 ( N.D. Ind . 1966 ). It is interesting to note that in Lange the court suggested that, under Indiana law, the theories of respondeat superior and negligent hiring are mutually exclusive . Id. at 323; see Restatement tSecandi of Torts § 317 , Comment a ( 1965 ) (negligent hiring theory only applies when employee was acting outside the scope of his employment) . Some jurisdictions refuse to recognize the negligent hiring theory in actions brought by third parties . See, e.g., Lewis v . Southern Pac. Co , 102 Ariz. 108 , 109 , 425 P.2d 840 , 841 ( 1967 ) ("failure of an employer to hire only competent and experienced employees does not of itself constitute an independent ground of actionable negligence") (citations omitted), Central Truckaway Sys ., Inc. v. Moore , 304 Ky. 533 , 538 , 201 S.W.2d 725 , 728 ( 1947 ) (theory is an extension of the fellow servant rule and only applies in actions brought by servants to recover for injuries caused by the negligence of fellow servants).
188. Restatement (Second) of Agency § 213 , Comment d ( 1958 ) (emphasis added)
189. The effect of ratification on the master's right to indemnification is unclear . See F. M\echem . Outlines of the Law of Agency § 213, at 138 n.24 ( 1952 ); W. Seavey, supra note 161, § 39 , at 77.
190. But see notes 112-13 supra and accompanying text.
191. See Restatement (Second) of Agency § 217C(b ) ( 1958 ), cited in Easle) v. Apollo Detective Agency, Inc., 69 Ill. App. 3d 920 , 932 , 387 N.E.2d 1241 , 1248 ( 1979 ) ; Restatement (Second ) of Torts § 909 ( 1979 ). Mere negligence is generally not considered sufficient grounds for awarding punitive damages . See, e.g., Hall v. Motorists Ins. Corp., 109 Ariz . 334 , 337 , 509 P.2d 604 , 607 ( 1973 ) (evidence of recklessness or wanton disregard for the safety of others necessary), Price v . Griffin , 359 A.2d 582 , 589 (D.C . 1976 ) (ordinary negligence without proof ofexacerbating circumstances does not establish grounds for awarding punitive damages).
192. See notes 77-78 supra and accompanying text.
193. See note 107 supra and accompanying text .
194. For example, the player may bring a cause of action against the team based upon tile negligent hiring theory . See notes 176-83 supra and accompanying text.
195. See W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 47 , at 295-96; Restatement (Second) of Agency § 217B ( 1958 ). Ohio is one jurisdiction that refuses to join master and servant when the master's liability is solely vicarious . See Shaver v. Shirks Motor Express Corp., 163 Ohio St . 484 , 496 , 127 N.E. 2d 355 , 361 - 62 ( 1955 ).
196. See , e.g., Mahler v . Draker , 273 F. Supp . 537 , 539 (D.S .C. 1967 ); S.W. Corum Hauling, Inc. v. Tilford, 511 S.W.2d 220 , 224 (Ky. 1974 ); Brown v . City of New York, 40 A.D.2d 785 , 785 , 337 N.Y.S.2d 685 , 687 (1st Dep't 1972 ). Butsee Gates v . L. G. DeWitt, Inc., 528 F.2d 405 , 413 (5th Cir.) (apportionment of damages among joint tortfeasors not permitted under Georgia law ), modifie5d3 , 2F .2d 1052 ( 5th Cir . 1976 ) (en banc); Robbins v . Forsburg , 288 Ala. 108 , 111 ,257 So. 2d 353 , 355 ( 1971 ) (same under Alabama law ); Pure Gas & Chem . Co. v. Cook, 526 P.2d 986 , 989 - 90 (Wyo. 1974 ) (same under Wyoming law ).
197. See Estate of Canale v. Binghamton Amusement Co., 45 A.D,2d 424 , 427 - 28 , 357 N.Y.S.2d 931 , 934 (3d Dep't 1974 ), aff'd, 37 N.Y.2d 875 , 340 N.E.2d 729 ,378 N.Y.S.2d 362 ( 1975 ); W. Prosser, supra note 87, § 52 , at 315; Restatement (Second) of Agency § 217B, Comment d ( 1958 ).
198. See notes 187-88 supra and accompanying text.
199. The elements required to establish that an employer was negligent in hiring an individual to