Abel Limones Sr & Ors v School Board of Lee County (2013) H&FLR 2014-6

Abel Limones Sr & Ors v School Board of Lee County (2013) H&FLR 2014-6

Second District Court of Appeal (Florida)

6 February 2013

Coram: Silberman CJ, Casanueva and Black JJ

Appearing for the Plaintiff: Matthew Moore and David Rash (inst. Alters Law Firm)

Appearing for the Defendant: J. Matthew Belcastro and Traci T. McKee (inst. Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt)

Catchwords: Florida – soccer – high school – collapse of player – automated external defibrillator – brain damage – negligence

Facts: Abel Limones Jr was a member of the East Lee County High School soccer team in a match against the team of Riverdale High School on the evening of 13 November 2008. During the game he collapsed on the field , following which he rapidly lost consciousness, stopped breathing and apparently ceased to have a pulse. Emergency services were called and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation was commenced. There was evidence that the coach of the East Lee County team called for an automated external defibrillator (AED) and that such a device was available at the ground. About 26 minutes after collapsing, Limones Jr was resuscitated by emergency services but suffered catastrophic brain damage.

The plaintiffs (Limones Jr and his parents) sought compensation based on a common law duty by the defendant to provide a reasonably safe environment and based on a failure to comply with §1006.165 of Florida Statutes 2008. The action was dismissed on the basis that there was no common law duty to provide or use an AED and that the claimed section did not establish a cause of action in negligence. The plaintiffs appealed.

Held: Dismissing the appeal –

(1) In relation to athletic activities, a school’s duty includes doing what a reasonably prudent person would do in the circumstances to (a) provide adequate instruction; (b) supply suitable equipment; (c) select and match competitors; (d) supervise; and (e) should injury occur, take appropriate steps to prevent aggravation of the injury.

(2) A school is not obliged at common law to provide medical care or rescue, including by means of an AED.

LA Fitness International LLC v Mayer, 980 So. 2d 550 (Fla. 4th DCA, 2008), followed.

The Court declined to decide whether §1006.165 of Florida Statutes 2008 created a private cause of action in negligence.

Judgment

The Court’s judgment is available here.  Note that an appeal will be considered in the matter by the Supreme Court of Florida.