In other blogs posted on this site we have discussed the problem of hazing by college fraternities. In the past week another report of hazing that resulted in a serious injury has emerged, only this incident involves a high school football team rather than a college fraternity. In today’s post, the fraternity hazing lawyer at the Doan Law Firm will discuss this incident and then explain the possible legal options that may be available to the parents of hazing victims.
The Facts of the Sports Hazing
On the afternoon of Friday, April 27, 14-year-old Rodney Kim Jr. and his teammates were returning to the locker rooms following a spring training practice session at Davidson High School in Mobile, Alabama. Upon entering the locker room, Rodney stated that he was pushed from behind and feel to the floor, causing a fracture of his right arm. After falling to the floor, Rodney was attacked by an unknown number of his teammates who proceeded to punch and kick the injured young man for at least a minute if not longer. The beating was captured by another teammate’s cellphone and that video subsequently “went viral” on social media websites. A copy of that video can be seen here.
According to a story aired Mobile television station WALA, Rodney’s parents, Rodney Kim Sr. and Mary Kim have filed a $12 million lawsuit against the Mobile County (AL) Board of Education. They further stated that they are pressing criminal charges against the 20 students involved in the attack. According to Mobile County District Attorney’s office, 3 of the students involved in the attack have been arrested and were being held at the Strickland Youth Center and a fourth is being sought.
Since the attack, the Kims told WALA that they have received numerous communications from other student athletes as well as employees at Davidson High School reporting that hazing has been used as a “Rite of Passage” on the school’s football team for years. The information the Kims received suggested that the coaching staff and the school’s administration had been aware of the practice for years but allowed it to continue.
Laws involved with hazing
Many people are unaware that, with the exception of five states, hazing is a criminal offense in the United States. Although there is some variation between each state’s anti-hazing statutes, those who actively participate in hazing can be charged with a least a misdemeanor and face up to 1 year in jail if convicted. Furthermore, anyone who physically strikes a hazing victim can be charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanor assault and battery to felony aggravated assault.
Under Alabama law, hazing is defined in the Alabama Code, Section 16-1-23 as “... any willful action taken or situation created, whether on or off any school, college, university, or other educational premises, which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health of any student.” In Alabama, hazing is a Class C misdemeanor and, upon conviction, can result in 1) up to 3 months in jail, 2) a fine of up to $500, or 3) any combination of jail time and a fine.
How these laws apply
Based on the available information, Rodney Kim is a victim of hazing as defined by Alabama state law. The cellphone video clip currently making the rounds of social media sites also proves that he was the victim of a criminal attack that should rise to the level of a felony. Whether or not the District Attorney eventually elects to prosecute those involved in this senseless attack remains to be seen. Regardless of the District Attorney’s actions in handling the criminal aspects of the assault, or the outcomes of any future criminal trials, the Kims are justified in filing their civil lawsuit.
In law, an injured party may seek damages if they were injured as a consequence of the negligence or the deliberate acts of another. In the Kim case, it is obvious that Rodney was injured by the deliberate actions of his teammates. If the Kims can prove that the school’s administrators were aware that such assaults had taken place in the past, but did not take active steps to end such practices, then both Davidson High School and the Mobile County Board of Education will likely be held liable for substantial damages.
How a personal injury lawyer can help hazing victims
Hazing is a barbaric ritual that has no place in the educational system at the high school and college level. Unfortunately, many schools still allow this practice to continue.
If your child was injured during a high school hazing incident, we invite you to contact the school hazing lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, a nationwide personal injury and wrongful death law practice. When you contact the hazing injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, we will take all necessary steps to protect both your and your child’s privacy at all stages of our investigation into the circumstances of the injury. Furthermore, when you contact our firm your initial consultation is always free of charge and does not commit you to hiring our firm. Should you decide to have us represent you in your hazing injury lawsuit, we will assume responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.