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Ohio General Assembly Passes New Law Affecting High School and Youth Sports

Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co., L.P.A.

Senate Bill 252, better known as Lindsay’s Law, was passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed into law by Governor John Kasich, and recently took effect on August 1, 2017. The law is aimed at combating sudden cardiac arrest in high school and youth athletes, and is similar to Ohio’s Return to Play Law regarding concussions, which went into effect in 2013. 

What is Lindsay’s Law?
Lindsay’s Law is the Ohio Legislature’s response to the leading cause of death amongst student athletes. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, cutting off blood flow to vital organs, including the brain. SCA is fatal if not treated immediately. The law is named after former Miss Ohio Lindsay Davis, a national heart health advocate who suffers from a heart condition.  Lindsay’s Law can be found in the Ohio Revised Code at sections: 3313.5310, 3707.58 and 3707.59. 

The law requires volunteer and paid coaches at schools and youth sports organizations to undergo annual training related to identifying and responding to SCA. In order to participate in athletic activities, students, youth athletes, and their parents/guardians are required to review a video and informational handout created by the Ohio Department of Health, and sign a form acknowledging that they have received and reviewed this information. 

Students and youth athletes are not allowed to participate in athletic activities if they have an immediate family member who has previously experienced sudden cardiac arrest, or if the student or youth athlete has exhibited fainting at any time prior to or after an athletic activity. Additionally, a coach must remove a student or youth athlete from an athletic activity if they exhibit fainting. If an athlete is not allowed to participate or is removed from an athletic event, they are not allowed to return until they have been evaluated and cleared by a healthcare professional. 

The Ohio Departments of Health and Education, the Ohio High School Athletic Association, and the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Cardiology jointly developed guidelines and other relevant materials to inform and educate students, youth athletes, parents and coaches about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. 

Who Does Lindsay’s Law Apply To?
The provisions of Lindsay’s Law are found in two separate chapters of the Ohio Revised Code. One chapter applies to schools and student athletes, while the other applies to youth sports organizations and youth athletes. 

A youth athlete is defined by the law as an individual who wishes to practice for, or compete in, athletic activities organized by a youth sports organization. A youth sports organization is a public or nonpublic entity that organizes an athletic activity in which the athletes are nineteen or younger, are required to pay a fee to participate in the athletic activity or whose cost to participate is sponsored by a business or nonprofit organization.

Athletic activities would include: interscholastic athletics; an athletic contest or competition that is sponsored by or associated with a school that is subject to this section, including cheerleading, club-sponsored sports activities, and sports activities sponsored by school-affiliated organizations; noncompetitive cheerleading that is sponsored by school-affiliated organizations; and practices, interschool practices, and scrimmages for all of the activities described, as well as athletic activities organized by a youth sports organization.

What is required of parents/guardians, athletes, coaches, and schools?
Each year, parents/guardians, students and youth athletes must:

1)     review the Ohio Department of Health’s video relating to Lindsay’s Law,
2)     read the SCA informational handout, and
3)     complete and submit a form indicating they have received and reviewed such information.

Similarly, each year, both paid and volunteer coaches, including those who coach an athletic activity organized by a youth sports organization must review and complete the SCA training materials approved by the Ohio Department of Health and/or Ohio Department of Education.

Lastly, schools and youth sports organizations must establish penalties for coaches who violate the provisions of this law.

If you have any questions, please contact Attorney Matthew Hull at 330-497-0700. 

NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.

 
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