Hazing Cases and Qualified Immunity Essay

Hazing Cases and Qualified Immunity Essay

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Introduction:
In recent years several high profile national cases have brought hazing to the forefront in American society as a real issue and a problematic one at that. According to recent statistics from the University of Maine, 1.5 million high school students are hazed each year. Of the athletes who have reported hazing, 40% have reported that a coach or advisor was aware of the activity. 22% report that the coach was actually involved in the activities. (Allan & Madden, 2008). Moreover, 36% of students say they would not report hazing primarily because “there’s no one to tell,” and 27% feel that officials or coaches won’t handle the situation right. In additional research a survey was conducted in which coaches were questioned about whether they believe that hazing goes on in their community; 50% responded yes, that hazing was in fact going on. Of the coaches who responded 25% admitted that they themselves were hazed in some form at a younger age (“InsideHazing”, 2010). In light of these findings, the question of who should be responsible is raised. Specifically, it brings up the legal question of “whether a coach has a valid qualified immunity defense to a student athlete’s constitutional rights violation claim when the student is involved in a hazing incident.”
Legal Issue:
Hazing is defined as “any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses or endangers, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.” (Rosner & Crow, p. ). While most states have enacted anti-hazing legislation criminalizing the act of hazing, the application of these statutes is still quite rare. Id. at 277. Most lawsuits filed for reported hazing incidents are still reviewed under federal law claims ...


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... crying.” The plaintiff alleges violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 (2000) and civil rights conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 (2000). The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint in its entirety on the basis of qualified immunity. The court dismissed the state law claims but found that the defendant had in fact violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights due to the fact that “a state actor, through his agents, cannot randomly beat a student.” The defendant was also denied dismissal of the claim based on qualified immunity because a state actor cannot arbitrarily commit violence against a student. The plaintiff was able to show that Coach Edmundson’s conduct did violate his constitutional right of substantive due process to be free from the infliction of malicious corporal punishment by school official.

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