Gott v. Berea College

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Gott v. Berea College
Court Kentucky Court of Appeals
Full case name Gott v. Berea College et al.
Decided December 11, 1913 (1913-12-11)
Citation(s) 161 S.W. 204, 156 Ky. 376, 1913 Ky. LEXIS 441
Case history
Appealed from Circuit Court of Madison County
Court membership
Judge sitting Nunn

Gott v. Berea College, 161 S.W. 204 (Ky. 1913), was a case heard before the Kentucky Court of Appeals wherein a restaurant owner sued a college when the college issued a new policy forbidding students from patronizing establishments not owned by the college.


Around September 1, 1911, J.S. Gott—a businessman in Berea, Kentucky—purchased a restaurant located across a street from Berea College. A restaurant had been at that location for some years, and primarily subsisted on business from students from the college. Unbeknownst to Gott, during the 1911 summer vacation, the college authorities had revised the student code. Previously, the student code had forbidden students from entering "any place of ill repute, liquor saloons, gambling houses" or similar places. Beginning with the fall semester, which started September 11, 1911, the college promulgated the updated student code, which forbade students from entering "eating houses and places of amusement in Berea[] not controlled by the college". The punishment for any violation was immediate dismissal. Shortly after the new code was published, some students who continued to patronize Gott's restaurant were caught and expelled.[1][2]

On September 20, Gott filed suit against the college, obtaining an injunction to enjoin enforcement of the rule, and initially seeking $500 in damages. He later requested an additional $1,500, claiming that the college had slandered him by telling the student body that Gott was a bootlegger. In the proceedings that followed, the injunction was dissolved, and the Gott's petition was ultimately dismissed. He appealed the dismissal.[1][2]


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 " 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gott v. Berea College, 161 S.W. 204, 205–06 (Ky. 1913). (Full text via HathiTrust Digital Library.) open access publication – free to read
  2. ^ a b "Recent Important Decisions". Michigan Law Review. 12 (6): 497–498. April 1914. Retrieved 9 January 2016 – via HeinOnline. (Subscription required (help)). 

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