Poulos v Samoa Rugby Union Inc. (2011) H&FLR 2015-28

Peter Poulos v Samoa Rugby Union Incorporated (2011) H&FLR 2015-28

Supreme Court of Samoa

8 August 2011

Coram: Slicer J

Appearing for the Plaintiff: L Tamati and A Su’a (instructors not identified)
Appearing for the Defendant: S Leung Wai (instructors not identified)

Catchwords: Samoa – rugby – professional athlete – selection team – injury – assurance – ‘looked after’.

Facts: The plaintiff was a professional rugby player. On 5 April 2006 he took part in a practice match between a local club and a side made up of players (including himself) being considered for selection in the Samoan national side.  During a maul he suffered a neck injury as a result of fair play.  The injury was expected to end his playing career.

The Court accepted that the plaintiff entered upon the selection process having been assured that the defendant would “look after him” in relation to medical treatment and associated costs (but not future loss of income) in the event of injury.  In the event he was provided with little or no assistance by the defendant and brought proceedings against it on the basis that it had tortiously or in breach of contract failed to honour its assurance, including by failing to take out suitable insurance.

Held: Upholding the claim in part, that –

1. It was indisputable that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care while he was taking part in the selection process.  The real issue was the standard of care to be observed, which would be determined by what was reasonable in the circumstances as regards taking out insurance.  In this case, the defendant was entitled to rely on the standard set by the International Rugby Board which did not require insurance to be taken out over players in the selection process.

Bolton v Stone [1951] AC 850; Wyong Shire Council v Shirt (1980) 146 CLR 552; and Burnie Port Authority v General Jones Pty Ltd (1994) 179 CLR 520, followed.

2. It was not appropriate for the courts to imply a requirement to take out insurance into a contract involving a sports injury

Reid v Rush and Tompkins Group Plc [1990] 1 WLR 212, followed.

3. The general agreement that the defendant would look after the plaintiff was binding on it, despite the defendant not being obliged to take out insurance to this effect.  The defendant had breached this commitment by doing little or nothing to assist the plaintiff following his injury.  In the circumstances compensation was payable and damages were assessed.

Judgment

The Court’s judgment is available here.

Sharper v New Orleans Saints (2014) H&FLR 2015-5

Darren Sharper v New Orleans Saints (2014) H&FLR 2015-5

Louisiana Court of Appeal (Fourth Circuit)

22 October 2014

Coram: Belsome, Bonin and Dysart JJ

Appearing for the Plaintiff: Frank A Bruno
Appearing for the Defendant: Christopher J Kane and Gerard J Gaudet (of Adams & Reese)

Catchwords: Louisiana – workers compensation – American Football – professional athlete – claim – payments – time limit.

Facts: The plaintiff was a professional athlete employed by the defendant between 2009 and 2011.  In the 2009-2010 football season he sustained a left knee injury in the course of play.  He underwent treatment and was re-signed by the defendant for the 2010-2011 football season.  The defendant classed him “partially unable to perform” and paid him his full salary. During that season he ultimately returned to play.  He was not resigned by the defendant following the 2010-2011 season and formally retired from professional football in November 2011.  On 14 December 2011 he submitted a claim for workers compensation.

Louisiana Revised Statute 23:1209 A (1) provides that –

In case of personal injury … all claims for payments shall be forever barred unless within one year after the accident … the parties have agreed upon the payments to be made under this Chapter, or … a formal claim has been filed.

The plaintiff’s claim was rejected by Louisiana’s Office of Workers’ Compensation on the basis that his claim was ‘prescribed’ (that is, had been lodged out of time) because it was lodged more than 12 months after the injury was sustained and the running of the time limit was not delayed by the payment of compensation payments.  The plaintiff appealed.

Held: dismissing the appeal, that although there were games in the 2010-2011 season where the plaintiff did not play, he attended practices and games and took part in meetings and rehabilitation, all of which was work he was required to perform under his contract and for which he was paid his full salary.  Accordingly the salary he was paid consisted of earned wages and not payment in lieu of compensation.

Dobler v United Fidelity & Guaranty Co, 508 So.2d 176 (La. App. 4th Cir., 1987) and Jones v New Orleans Saints, 800 So.2d 1025 (La. App. 5th Cir., 2001), considered.

Judgment

The Court’s judgement is available here.