Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Those of you who use the Epstein-Markell-Ponoroff contract law casebook teach the case of Reed v. University of North Dakota, 589 N.W.2d 880 (N.D. 1999). You might be interested in some background information.
Reed is a sad case, in which a young UND hockey player was required by his coaches to run in a 10-kilometer charity race as part of his conditioning program. About 200 yards short of the finish line, he collapsed from dehydration. Rushed to the emergency room, he eventually needed one kidney and two liver transplants. He sued both UND and the North Dakota Association for the Disabled, the group that had sponsored the event. His suit against UND was knocked out on other grounds, and his suit against NDAD had to overcome the fact that he had signed a liability release before the race. The player argued it was unenforceable for lack of consideration. No, said the court, there was consideration of the release, and therefore it was enforceable.
The hockey player was Jace Reed (left). Reed had been a high school star at Grand Rapids High School in Minnesota. In 1989 he was taken in the fifth round of the National Hockey League draft (86th overall) by the New York Islanders -- ahead of future NHL stalwarts like Pavel Bure (Canucks), Aaron Miller (Nordiques), and Dallas Drake (Red Wings). Instead of signing a pro contract, Reed opted to hone his skills at UND, a perennial hockey power that has won seven NCAA championships, three in the ten years before Reed joined. At UND, Reed played in 23 games his first two seasons, and was preparing to battle for a starting spot in his third year.
That ended with his injuries. During his hospitalization, the "big, tough defenseman" nearly died and dropped from 215 pounds to 145. Doctors were not sure he would even be able to return to school, let alone play sports. His hockey days were over. Ultimately, he was able to return to UND in the fall of 1992. The school's "Big Green Club" of athletic boosters raised the money to pay the remainder of his school expenses.