UD asks judge to dismiss football ‘hazing’ lawsuit

A former football player claims he was forced to chug high-alcohol content drinks.

University of Dayton attorneys have asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit brought against the school by a former football player who claims hazing left him with a cognitive brain injury.

Max Engelhart filed suit last month in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, claiming he was forced to chug high-alcohol drinks as part of a “Mad Dogs” initiation to the UD football team two years ago. Defendants include UD football coach Rick Chamberlin, strength coach Jared Phillips and others.

Engelhart, then a 6-foot-1, 270-pound offensive lineman, woke up Dec. 8, 2014 covered in his own vomit, feces and urine and with a headache later diagnosed by UD’s team physician as a concussion. Engelhart claims he quit football, left the university and has been prescribed a medicine typically given to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

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In their motion to dismiss, UD attorneys deny hazing took place and wrote that “the alleged acts of December 7, 2014 – even if forced on him by upperclassmen – therefore had nothing to do with his ‘initiation into’ the team, and cannot support a cognizable claim of hazing under Ohio law.”

In his amended complaint, Engelhart claims hazing violations, negligence, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy to cover up allegations of hazing.

In the introduction to their motion, UD attorneys wrote that “the Court must look beyond the bolded, capitalized headings and review the factual allegations themselves. The actual allegations are that Plaintiff attended a party with other football players where alcohol was consumed.”

The attorneys also wrote that Engelhart’s accusations are vague and speculative and that “what is described is not hazing as a matter of law, no matter how many times Plaintiff uses the word.”

UD cites a rejected Franklin County Court of Claims case in which UD attorneys wrote that a University of Toledo freshman football player hit his head while trying to dunk a football over the goal post during a “Freshman Olympics.”

UD attorneys wrote a court rejected the Toledo player’s hazing claim on grounds that the plaintiff “was already a member of the team.”

Engelhart’s attorney, Scott Jones, didn’t comment on UD’s motion to dismiss. In his complaint, Jones wrote that UD officials knew about “Mad Dogs” and failed to take any action.

In their filing, UD attorneys wrote that, if any activities occurred, they “were orchestrated and perpetrated by upperclassmen members of the football team” and not by UD coaches or staff.

UD attorneys wrote that “it is entirely unclear whether Plaintiff fell in House 1, fell in House 2, fell in the street, bumped his head while rolling around on an unfamiliar bed in House 3, was attacked by an unknown assailant, passed out – or any number of potential theories. Plaintiff simply has no memory of what happened. His use of the word ‘hazing’ in his headings does not change this fatal flaw in his pleading.”

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