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Thursday, April 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Injured Athlete Can’t Sue Liberty University In CA

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - A California appeals court lacks jurisdiction over the claims of a Liberty University football player who sought damages from the Virginia school for the brain injuries he suffered after a night of drinking with his roommate, because university officials allegedly ignored his request to switch roommates.

Marlon Brando Roman, through his guardian ad litem, argued that California courts have long-arm jurisdiction over his complaint against the university in Lynchburg, because a recruiter had visited his hometown in Rialto, Calif., in 2003.

Roman claimed that the school breached its duty of care by denying his request for a new roommate, despite his history of leaving campus after curfew to drink with his freshman roommate, Shane Lancaster.

While on a drunken binge with Lancaster in April 2004, Roman fell from a train trestle and suffered catastrophic brain injuries. He sued the school and Lancaster for negligence.

Liberty founder Jerry Falwell issued a declaration in support of the university's motion to quash service of the summons, stating that Liberty has no meaningful ties to California.

The court agreed. The fact that a recruiter went to California to offer Roman a football scholarship was too tenuous a connection to confer personal jurisdiction, the judges ruled. Similarly, his claim against Lancaster lacked ties to California.

"Virginia is the only forum where all of plaintiff's claims may be brought in a single action, thus promoting judicial efficiency and economy," Justice Hollenhorst wrote.

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