(CN) - A college hockey fan who was dragged into a fight can pursue a case against the two men who started the fracas, but not against Syracuse University, a New York appeals court ruled.
Cornelius O'Connor Jr. had just watched his son and the rest of the Syracuse team defeat Slippery Rock University.
Another Syracuse fan, Brian McNeil, got into a verbal altercation with Slippery Rock player Matthew DiSanti, and the dispute turned physical.
DiSanti grabbed McNeil and dragged him over the barrier separating the teams from the fans. O'Connor came to McNeil's aid and tried to pull him away, but he got yanked into the fray as well.
Several Slippery Rock players, coming off a close loss, attacked McNeil and O'Connor. At the end of the brawl, O'Connor had a broken ankle and leg.
He sued both schools and both fighters, but the trial court dismissed his case.
Justice McCarthy of the Albany-based 3rd Appellate Division upheld the ruling for Syracuse on the grounds that it had the proper safety barriers and staff in place, and there was no prior tension among the teams and the fans.
However, McCarthy ruled that O'Connor had enough evidence for his claim against McNeil and DiSanti to survive summary judgment.
"It is sufficient that plaintiff held a reasonable belief of imminent peril of serious injury to another, and it matters not that the peril feared failed to materialize," McCarthy wrote.
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