Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Reed v. University of North Dakota and The North Dakota Association for the Disabled, Inc. case brief

Reed v. University of North Dakota and The North Dakota Association for the Disabled, Inc. case brief summary
589 N.W.2d 880 (1999)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff student appealed from the decision of the District Court for Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District (North Dakota), which dismissed his breach of contract claim against defendant university, as well as his negligence and in concert claims against defendant association. After plaintiff sued to recover for personal injuries suffered as a hockey player, defendants sought summary judgment based on res judicata.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff student had a national letter of intent and played hockey at defendant university for two years before being injured in a preseason hockey conditioning program. He was severely dehydrated and required one kidney and two liver transplants. Plaintiff sued defendant university for breach of contract, and he contended that defendant association was liable under negligence and in concert claims. Defendants moved for dismissal on the grounds that a Minnesota lawsuit had resolved the matter. The trial court granted summary judgment for defendants and dismissed the case.

DISCUSSION

  • On appeal, plaintiff contended that the breach of contract claim was not barred by res judicata, because the Minnesota action did not result in a decision on the merits. 
  • The court disagreed. 
  • The Minnesota decision unequivocally decided the breach of contract claim against defendant university and was entitled to full faith and credit. 
  • Claims against defendant association were also properly dismissed, as N.D. Cent. Code § 32-03.2-02 limited joint liability to persons who acted in concert. 
  • The court declined to broadly construe the statutory "in concert" language to include concurrent negligence.
CONCLUSION
The court affirmed summary judgment for defendant university and defendant association. Plaintiff student's breach of contract claim against defendant university was barred by res judicata, and defendant association was not liable because it did not act in concert with defendant university.

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