Is the Sovereign Immunity of Athletic Trainers at State-Funded Colleges and Universities Coming Under Fire?

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Illinois Court finds athletic trainers subject to duty of care independent of State employment - Sellers v. Rudert

A recent case decided in Illinois has determined that athletic trainers in Illinois may be held personally liable for negligence claims brought against them, despite the fact that they are employed by state-funded institutions. In Sellers v. Rudert, 918 N.E.2d 586 (Ill. App. Ct. 2009), the Appellate Court of Illinois for the Fourth District found that athletic trainers at Eastern Illinois University were subject to a duty of care established by the Illinois Athletic Trainers Practice Act.

The Court determined that this duty was separate and independent from the trainers' state employment. As such, the trainers were not permitted to raise the defense of sovereign immunity that would typically be available to state employees. This decision allowed the plaintiff in the case, a former member of the University's football team, to maintain a negligence action directly against the trainers.

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