Gott v. Berea College

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Gott v. Berea College (156 Ky. 376, 161 S.W. 204 [1913]) was a case decided by the Court of Appeals of Kentucky.

Facts[edit]

A restaurant owned by Gott in Berea across the road from Berea College was frequented by students of the college. The college, for reasons owing to concerns that nowadays are lost to antiquity, amended its rules to forbid the patronage by students of establishments not owned by the college. The penalty for doing so was dismissal from the college. Several students who visited Gott’s restaurant were subsequently dismissed and the number and frequency of student customers diminished considerably subsequent to the dismissals. Gott filed suit against Berea College for an injunction to stop enforcement of the new rule as well as for damages.

Issue[edit]

Was the rule forbidding students from patronizing eating establishments not associated with Berea College a reasonable one and did Berea College have the authority to create and enforce the rule. Did Gott actually have a lawful complaint or were Berea College’s actions lawful and performed in a proper manner?

Judgment[edit]

The court acknowledged that Gott’s business had been much reduced after the rule was effected but the question was whether the college’s actions were unlawful. The court first determined that because Berea College was acting in loco parentis, the college did have the authority to issue the rule and that students at the college were obligated to conform their behavior to the rule since a “...college or university may prescribe requirements for admission and rules for the conduct of its students, and one who enters as a student impliedly agrees to conform to such rules of government.”

The court noted that a public institution, one supported “from the public treasure” had more exacting criteria to meet but since Berea College was a private institution, the above implied contract between student and college was sufficient.

Next the court reviewed the relationship between Gott and Berea College to determine if there was a contractual relationship which the college had broken but found none. Finally, the court reviewed the question of unreasonable, malicious, or wrongful restraint of trade by the actions of the college but could find no evidence of such.