State v Saad (2015) H&FLR 2015-29

State of Michigan v Bassel Abdul-Amir Saad (2015) H&FLR 2015-29

Wayne County Circuit Court (Michigan)

13 March 2015

Coram: Judge Cameron

Appearing for the Prosecution: Erika Tusar (of Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office).
Appearing for the Defendant: Cyril Hall (of Law Office of Cyril C. Hall, PC)

Catchwords: Michigan – soccer – referee – assault – death – homicide – manslaughter – sentence

Facts: The defendant, a 36-year-old Lebanese national, was playing in a recreational soccer match at Livonia on 29 June 2014.  The referee, John Bieniewicz, issued him with a red card, ejecting him from the game.  The defendant lost his temper and punched the referee, causing fatal injuries.

The accused was charged with second degree murder and pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.  His history included assaulting another soccer player during a match in 2005.

Held: Sentencing the defendant to fifteen years imprisonment with a minimum term of eight years –

1. That the defendant was an example of what the community considered wrong with escalating violence in sports. His offence was “a childish, senseless act of taking another man’s life with no excuse or justification other than dealing with rage that [he was] unable to contain” (1).

2. That the defendant pay $9,265 restitution to the deceased’s family in respect of funeral expenses.

Note: It is possible that the defendant’s potential deportation following his term of imprisonment may have been a factor in the sentence imposed.


The court’s case record (including a summary of the sentence) is available here.  This report also used information contained in reports published in the Detroit News of 20 February 2015, the Detroit Free Press of 13 March 2015, the New York Daily News of 13 March 2015, USA Today of 13 March 2015, and reported on NBC News on 13 March 2015, on CBS News on 13 March 2015 and on WXYZ Detroit on 13 March 2015.


(1) Cf the sentencing remarks in DPP v Ryan (2007) H&FLR 2014-49.

DPP v Ryan (2007) H&FLR 2014-49

Director of Public Prosecutions v Stephen Newton Ryan (2007) H&FLR 2014-49

County Court of Victoria (Australia)

c. 20 March 2007

Coram: Judge McInerney

Appearing for the Prosecution: Carolyn Burnside (instructed by the Office of Public Prosecutions)
Appearing for the Defendant: Brian Bourke (instructors not known)

Catchwords: Australia – Victoria – soccer – altercation between spectators -serious injury – assault – sentencing considerations

Facts: On 29 June 2003 the accused attended an under-11s soccer match at Caloola Reserve, Oakleigh, in which his son was playing. It was alleged that he had been telling players from his son’s team to kick and punch a player on the opposing team after a penalty shot was awarded. The victim – the father of one of the players on the opposing team – remonstrated with him. In the ensuing altercation the victim grabbed the accused’s umbrella and suffered a hand injury when it was yanked away. When the victim turned to walk away, the accused struck him from behind with the umbrella, causing a spoke to become lodged in his back.

The accused was charged with intentionally or recklessly causing serious injury*. He pleaded not guilty at a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court and was committed to stand trial in the County Court: McLean v Ryan (2006), The Age, 15 September 2006. At trial he pleaded guilty to assault**.

Held: The Court accepted that the offence had been committed in the heat of the moment and that the accused had allowed himself to be overcome by circumstances. However, His Honour also considered that it was becoming too common for parents at soccer matches to lose their self-control, and that neither the accused nor victim had brought credit to themselves and had set a bad example to the children present.

A conviction was recorded against the accused and a fine of $3,000.00 imposed.


No written judgment has been made available. The report has been prepared based on newspaper accounts in The Age of 1 July 2003  and 15 September 2006 and the Herald Sun of 14 September 2006 and 21 March 2007.

* Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.), §16 and §17.
** Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic.), §23

Arch Insurance Co v United States Youth Soccer Association Inc (2014) H&FLR 2014-14

Arch Insurance Co v United States Youth Soccer Association Inc (2014) H&FLR 2014-14

Fifth District Court of Appeals of Texas

12 May 2014

Coram: Bridges, Fillmore and Lewis JJ

Appearing for the Appellant: William J. Akins and Bryan D. Pollard (both of FisherBroyles LLP)

Appearing for the Appellee: Richard Illmer and Elizabeth G. Bloch (both of Husch Blackwell LLP)

Catchwords: Texas – soccer – sports clubs – insurance – breach of contract – discrimination – duty to defend

Facts:  The United States Youth Soccer Association (respondent) was a corporation and a member of the United States Soccer Federation.  In 2009 the National Association of Competitive Soccer Clubs and some of its member clubs filed a grievance complaint with the US Soccer Federation alleging a number of breaches of Federation by-laws by (among others) the respondent.  These breaches included alleged discrimination.

At the relevant time, the respondent was insured by Arch Insurance Co (appellant).  The insurance policy included an exclusion exempting the appellant from liability for loss caused by a claim for breach of a contract or agreement.  The exclusion did not apply, however, so far as the respondent would have been liable for that loss absent the contract or agreement.  The appellant declined on the basis of the exclusion to defend the respondent.  The respondent sued for breach of contract, claiming the $365,620.24 legal fees it incurred in defending the grievance proceedings.  Both parties sought summary judgment, which was granted in favour of the respondent.  The appellant appealed.

Held: Allowing the appeal, that in assessing whether a claim is within the coverage of an insurance policy, the court must consider the factual allegations showing the origin of the damages, and not the legal theories alleged.  The factual allegations – including those with respect to discrimination – raised by the grievance against the respondent arose from the alleged breach of US Soccer Federation by-laws and regulations, and were within the exclusion.

Huffhines v State Farm Lloyds, 167 SW.3d   493 (Tex. App. 14th Dist 2005), followed.


The Court’s judgment is available here.

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.


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

Sibley v Milutinovic (1990) H&FLR 2014-4

Sibley v Milutinovic (1990) H&FLR 2014-4

Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory

9 February 1990

Coram: Miles CJ

Appearing for the Plaintiff: Mr Lunney (Instructed by Macphillimy Cummins & Gibson)
Appearing for the Defendant: Self-represented

Catchwords: Australian Capital Territory – soccer – non-competitive match – tackle – punch – consent – rules.

Facts: The parties were members of two soccer teams which held a friendly training match on 27 May 1987. The match was unrefereed. Two incidents took place between the parties. In the first incident the plaintiff undertook a “low sliding tackle” which caused both men to fall over. The defendant abused the plaintiff and told him to watch out. In the second incident the plaintiff performed another slide tackle on the defendant, who again fell. The defendant got up and punched the plaintiff breaking his jaw. The defendant received a kick to the ankle in the tackle and for which he made a cross-claim. Both parties pleaded a defence of voluntary assumption of risk.

There was no evidence as to the rules of soccer. The court relied on judicial knowledge to find that while soccer involved some inevitable physical contact between players, the intentional use of force by one player against another was outside the rules where the force was likely to cause injury.

Held: Upholding both claims –

(1) The defence of voluntary assumption of risk is not appropriate to an action for assault. The court worked on the assumption that the parties had actually intended to raise a defence of consent.

(2) The blow to the plaintiff’s jaw was outside the rules and outside the scope of the plaintiff’s consent to some physical contact during the game. Hence, the plaintiff’s claim succeeded.

(3) Because the match was non-competitive, “the extent to which players were entitled to adopt tactics likely to result in physical injury to an opposiiung player is … to be distinguished from conduct justifiable during a competition match”.

(4) The court was not satisfied that the plaintiff’s slide tackles were within the rules that the parties had expected to be observed. Because the plaintiff had not proved that the defendant consented to the sliding tackle, the cross-action succeeded.


The Court’s judgment is available here.