Sunday, November 10, 2013

Knapp v. Northwestern University case brief

Knapp v. Northwestern University case brief summary
101 F.3d 473 (1996)

Appellants, university and athletic director, sought review of the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which entered a permanent injunction prohibiting the exclusion of appellee student basketball player for reasons related to a cardiac condition, and denied a motion for summary judgment sought by appellants.

The student accepted the university's offer of a basketball scholarship, but suffered sudden cardiac death during a basketball game in high school. The student recovered, but the university, while honoring his scholarship, disqualified him from playing on its intercollegiate basketball team. The student challenged the disqualification under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Act), specifically, 29 U.S.C.S. § 794.

The court reversed the decision of the lower court that granted a permanent injunction prohibiting the student's exclusion, because an impairment that interfered with the student's ability to play basketball, but did not significantly decrease his ability to obtain a satisfactory education, did not substantially limit the major life activity of learning. The court held that the student was not disabled with the Act's meaning. Moreover, he was not physically "otherwise qualified" because the university made a showing that there was a reasonable probability of substantial future harm. The court held that a court had to allow the university to make its own determinations of substantial risk when based on reliable evidence.


The decision was reversed and the case was remanded with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of the university and the athletic director.

Suggested Study Aid For Sports Law

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