July 18, 2005
Cases: Student not TPB of school district contract
A high school football player who died at a YMCA outdoor facility is not a third-party beneficiary of the school's contract with the youth organization, according to a recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Daniel Sterling, a high school football player, went to the Athens YMCA Camp in Talullah Falls, Georgia, for a three-day football training camp. Under the contract between the YMCA and the school, the school and its coaches were to be responsible for the safety of the students over the weekend. Sterling was playing on a "zip line," a cord that swimmers can use to swing and drop themselves in the lake, when he drowned. His parents sued the head coach and the school district for breach of contract, claiming that Sterling was a third party beneficiary of the agreement with the YMCA.
For a third party to have legal standing to sue on a contract, said the court, the contract language must express the parties' intent to benefit the third party or a class of third parties of which the plaintiff is a member. Here, the school and the YMCA were merely agreeing between themselves who would be responsible for accidents. There was no express intent to benefit anyone other than the two parties. Sterling therefore was not a third-party beneficiary, so summary judgment should have been granted.
Donnalley v. Sterling, 2005 Ga. App. LEXIS 764 (4th Div., July 13, 2005).
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