Court: Defendant Could Not Have Foreseen Injuries to Soccer Player

Jan 2, 2009

A state court judge in Connecticut has granted a corporate defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a case where it was sued by a soccer player in a premises liability action.
In short, the court found that the defendant could not have foreseen that another player would intentionally injure the plaintiff.
The origins of the lawsuit arose in a soccer game when the plaintiff, Ercan Uzun, was allegedly pushed and intentionally forced to the ground by a player on the opposing team. Suffering injuries, he sued Oakwood Sports Center, which hosted the game, for negligence.
Oakwood moved for summary judgment on the basis that, as a matter of law, “its alleged negligence was not the cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.” In support of this position, the defendant cited Vaillancourt v. Latifi, 81 Conn.App. 541, 840 A.2d 1209 (2004) and Sullivan v. Quiceno, Superior Court, judicial district of New Haven, Docket No. CV054003173S (October 5, 2007, Holzberg, J.) (44 Conn. L. Rptr. 338, 2007 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2591).
In Vaillancourt, the plaintiff brought an action in negligence against the defendant, the Waterbury Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), stemming from injuries he sustained while playing catcher as a result of a collision with a base runner at home plate during a YMCA league softball game. Vaillancourt v. Latifi, supra, 81 Conn.App. 543. The plaintiff alleged that the league participant that initiated the collision acted with intent and malice, and that the defendant “was obligated to provide competitors with facilities, organization and instruction ‘to run a safe league,’” but failed to do so. Id., 543-44. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that there was no evidence that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, or that it breached any alleged duty. Id., 544. On appeal, the Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s ruling as well as finding other ground is support of summary judgment. “The threshold inquiry to this analysis,” the Appellate Court wrote, is “whether the specific harm alleged by the plaintiff was foreseeable to the defendant.” Id., 547 (quoting Jaworski v. Kiernan, 241 Conn. 399, 405, 696 A.2d 332 (1997).
The court next reviewed Sullivan v. Quiceno, which involved “facts substantially similar to those before the court in the present case. In Sullivan, the plaintiff was a member of a soccer team that played in a league organized by the defendants, the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association, Inc. and Stamford Youth Soccer League, Inc. During a game, the plaintiff “was severely injured when an altercation broke out on the field, during which a member of the opposing team ‘suddenly and without any warning, negligently and carelessly assaulted . . . the plaintiff.’ Id. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent because they ‘failed to provide adequate personnel to monitor and control the game, failed to adequately train its personnel to deal with altercations and failed to provide safeguards to ensure altercations would not occur.’ Id. The defendants argued that they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law because their alleged negligence was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Id., 339, 2007 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2591.
“The Sullivan court, relying almost entirely on Vaillancourt, found that the defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law because there were no facts that suggested the defendants or the referees they employed to monitor the game in question could have foreseen the sudden assault that was the cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injuries. Id., 340-41, 2007 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2591.
“The same result occurs here because the plaintiff’s injuries could not have been foreseen by the defendant or the referee that it charged with monitoring the game in question and therefore the plaintiff cannot demonstrate the defendant’s alleged negligence was the proximate cause of his injuries.”
Ercan Uzun v. Oakwood Sports Center of Hamden, Inc.; Super. Ct. Conn., Dist of New Haven; CV065001420S, 2008 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2650; 10/21/08


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