Towson motion to dismiss Gavin Class' lawsuit denied

Gavin Class' lawsuit to rejoin Towson University's football team will be heard in U.S. District Court July 14.

Judge Richard D. Bennett on Tuesday denied a motion by Towson that would have thrown out the suit filed by Class, a junior offensive lineman who collapsed on the practice field in August, 2013.


Class, 22, suffered heat stroke, which caused his heart to stop and his liver to fail. He underwent a six-hour liver transplant and 13 related surgeries but has recovered and been cleared by doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center to play football again.

Towson told Class in May that he could not rejoin the team on the field because of "risk of serious injury or death." He then filed suit alleging disability discrimination by the school.

"Judge Bennett really wants to hear the merits of this case," said Andrew Dansicker, Class' lawyer. "He's interested in seeing why Towson is preventing this young man, who has made this tremendous effort to come back from heat stroke, from playing football when his doctors say it's OK."

Assistant attorney general Kathleen Wherthey, who represents Towson, declined comment.

Both sides will present expert testimony July 14 at a preliminary injunction hearing that could determine whether the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Class would suit up this fall for the Tigers, who begin practice in early August. Currently, he is allowed to lift weights with the team indoors, but cannot take part in outdoor activities if the temperature is above 70 degrees.

"The judge will explore the issue of Gavin's disability and also whether the accomodations he needs are reasonable or not," Dansicker said. "We feel that those needs are straightforward and basic."

During yesterday's hearing, Judge Bennett made reference to having played football himself.

"His experiences [in the game] may play a role in how he views this case," Dansicker said.

Class, a St. Paul's graduate, attended Tuesday's hearing with his parents, then hurried back to Towson to attend summer classes.

"I knew [Towson's motion] was going to get dismissed because I know we're going to win," he said. "If God didn't want me to play, he wouldn't have let the doctors clear me."