Fencer injured while watching bout loses negligence appeal

August 26, 2015

A college fencer who suffered a severe eye injury while she stood in the area reserved for participant spectators failed to convince an Indiana Court of Appeals panel to reinstate a negligence suit she filed against two sports sanctioning bodies.

Wayne State University student Lydia Lanni was competing at a fencing competition at Notre Dame University in March 2010. She was in the designated waiting area next to a fencing strip where a bout had begun between two other girls when one of the fencer’s sabers struck her across the bridge of her nose, resulting in a severe eye injury.

Lanni sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the United States Fencing Association and Notre Dame, alleging negligence. This case previously was appealed after a trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the NCAA, but the COA remanded, finding the ruling was premature because Lanni had not been given a reasonable opportunity to oppose the motion.

Wednesday, the court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the NCAA and USFA. “We believe the Indiana Supreme Court’s recent analysis in Yost v. Wabash College, 3 N.E.3d 509 (Ind. 2014), is controlling here,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in Lydia Lanni v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, University of Notre Dame Du Lac, and United State Fencing Association, Inc., 49A02-1409-CT-649

In its Yost decision, justices ruled a national fraternity had no duty to protect chapter pledges in a lawsuit brought by a student injured in an alleged hazing incident.

“Simply, we see no daylight between our supreme court’s analysis in Yost with respect to the relationship between a national fraternity and a student engaged with a local chapter and the relationship between the NCAA and a student-athlete participating at an event on the campus of a member institution,” Najam wrote for the panel. The COA also rejected Lanni’s claim that the court erred in denying her request for a new judge.

Lanni’s claim against Notre Dame is still pending before the trial court.



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