Potential Expansion of Athletic Programs’ Duty of Care to Student-Athletes and New Limitations to Waivers of Liability: Lessons Learned from Feleccia v. Lackawanna College

October 25, 2019
Sports Litigation Alert

Types : In the News

A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision has the possibility of expanding athletic programs’ duty of care to student-athletes and limiting the protection provided by waivers of liability. In Feleccia v. Lackawanna College, student-athletes injured during a football practice sued Lackawanna College because the two individuals who were hired to serve as athletic trainers did not have the required state licenses. 2019 WL 3917069 (Pa. 2019). This article highlights three major takeaways from Feleccia that schools, athletic programs, and their attorneys should keep in mind when navigating the duties of care they owe to their student-athletes.


Lackawanna Hires Unlicensed “Athletic Trainers”

In the past, Lackawanna Junior College employed two athletic trainers to support its football program. However, in summer 2009, both athletic trainers resigned. Kaitlin M. Coyne and Alexis D. Bonisese—recent graduates who had obtained Bachelor of Science degrees in Athletic Training—applied for the open positions. Although neither candidate was officially licensed as an athletic trainer, Lackawanna hired them both. Under Pennsylvania law, to use the title “athletic trainer,” an individual must pass a national certification exam and be licensed pursuant to the Medical Practices Act.


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