Judge Partially Dismisses Case on Contractual Duties and Breach Claims in Youth Football Discrimination Case

May 17, 2024

By Deondra E. Johnson, MS & Michael S. Carroll, PhD


This case stems from two minor-aged athletes, also brothers, who faced alleged discrimination and mistreatment while participating in the Greater Eastside Football Junior Association League. Their mother, Elle Nguyen, signed a Code of Conduct with the Boys & Girls Club of King County (BGCKC) to facilitate their involvement in recreation sports. One brother (A.A.) left the team due to alleged bullying and racial slurs and claimed that he was physically assaulted by his teammates and coach Marc Munson. The other brother (G.A.) was later terminated from the team. The next day, Nguyen found out that five Caucasian participants in the BGCKC had lied about their residences but were still allowed to remain on the team until the end of the year. Additionally, when G.A. attended practice to support his teammates, he was removed by a BGCKC employee. In October of 2023, the parents of G.A.’s teammates unsuccessfully attempted to lobby the BGCKC to reinstate G.A. on the team for the last two games of the season. At two other BGCKC sporting contests, Nguyen, and her son G.A. were in attendance when the BCCKC called the police to have them both removed. As a result of this treatment, both minor children experienced emotional distress and suicidal ideation, and both have missed school on multiple occasions and are seeing a therapist.


In June of 2023, the Nguyens filed legal action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington against the Mercer Island Boys Basketball Booster Club and other defendants, and included counts of breach of contract, negligence, and discrimination. The defendants subsequently filed a motion to dismiss questioning whether the allegations presented a plausible claim. The Nguyens argue breaches of contractual promises and discriminatory conduct, while the defendants assert that the complaint lacks sufficient facts to support liability. The outcome would depend on whether the Nguyens could demonstrate a viable legal argument supported by the facts presented in the complaint.

Breach of Contract

Plaintiffs allege that Marc Munson, as an employee of BGCKC, breached a contractual duty to enforce BGCKC’s Family Handbook. Nguyen also alleged that BGCKC breached contractual obligations outlined in its Code of Conduct and Family Handbook, but the court ruled that these documents did not establish contractual duties between the parties and therefore dismissed the breach of contract claims against both Munson and BGCKC, and thus Count I was dismissed.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Nguyen alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress under Washington law, citing the case law precedent in Kloepfel v. Bokor (2003). The complaint claimed that Mr. Munson’s racially demeaning comments to one of the brothers caused him severe emotional distress. The Court stated that most of the defendants’ actions, like team decisions and social media responses, did not meet the point for intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, the allegation that Mr. Munson made racially demeaning comments, although lacking specific details, was sufficient to potentially support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Negligent in Racially Demeaning Comments

Nguyen claimed that BGCKC failed to address discriminatory behavior and that Mr. Munson did not address bullying and made racially demeaning comments. The Court stated that, while BGCKC may have met with the Nguyens about discriminatory behavior, it is unclear as to whether the conduct ceased afterward, and Nguyen’s allegations against Mr. Munson were sufficient for this part of their Count III negligence claim to proceed.

Negligent in Removal of Boys from Their Teams

Nguyen claimed that BGCKC or Mr. Munson unjustly removed one of the brothers from the team and terminated the other brother’s participation due to Nguyen’s violation of BGCKC’s Code of Conduct. However, the Court stated that the Nguyens’ claims lacked factual support, and that there was no evidence of unjust removal by BGCKC or Mr. Munson, and the termination was justified due to Nguyen’s violation of BGCKC’s Code of Conduct. The alleged facts did not support negligence in this regard against the defendants.

Negligent in Transfer Ability

Nguyen also claimed that the Mercer Island Boys Basketball Booster Club initially refused to allow the brothers to transfer to other leagues but reversed their decision a week later. The Court noted that Nguyen’s negligence claim lacked factual support regarding the denial of transfers by the Mercer Island Boys Basketball Booster Club.

Negligent in Exclusion

Nguyen alleged that the BGCKC wrongfully excluded the family from sporting events, while BGCKC argued they had valid reasons and had informed the Nguyens beforehand, but the Court did not dismiss the claims solely based on BGCKC’s arguments. The Court acknowledged the Nguyen’s claim that they had unfairly been excluded from attending sporting events and stated that disputes over the allegations did not warrant dismissal of the Nguyen’s claims under Rule 12(b)(6).

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Nguyen alleged that the BGCKC and Mr. Munson caused emotional distress through negligence by not addressing racially demeaning comments made by teammates and involving the police unnecessarily. Nguyen claimed that Munson’s actions regarding racially demeaning comments and BGCKC’s exclusion of the Nguyens from sporting events without sufficient cause created emotional distress justifiable for damages. This claim was supported by medical evidence of conditions on post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, sleep disorders, and anxiety. However, the Court stated that Nguyen’s claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress against BGCKC and Mr. Munson were not sufficiently supported. They failed to show that BGCKC was negligent in handling the bullying and racial remarks, or that Mr. Munson had a role in the police’s involvement. Nguyen sought damages for emotional distress, and claimed that distress was foreseeable, and these claims were supported by objective medical evidence, which the defendants failed to refute adequately. As such, Count IV could proceed based on a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim.


In conclusion, the court ruled that the defendants’ request to dismiss Nguyen’s common law claims was partially granted. Claims against the BGCKC and Marc Munson for breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress were dismissed, except for specific claims related to racially demeaning comments and failure to address bullying or racially charged remarks. Additionally, negligence claims against Munson and BGCKC about the Nguyens’ removal from attending sporting events could also proceed to be heard in a new trial.


Right before this article was to be published, there was a case update. Before the original complaint was ever filed, defendants attempted to dissuade plaintiffs from filing, arguing that their claims were defective. Additionally, defendants warned plaintiffs’ counsel that they would file a motion to dismiss the meritless claims and would seek attorney’s fees and costs under Rule 11, which allows parties to recoup damages from opposing counsel when a complaint is (a) legally or factually baseless from an objective perspective and (b) the attorney or party failed to conduct a reasonable and competent inquiry before signing it. In this case, the Court dismissed the claims listed above, finding them without merit or basis. Additionally, the facts alleged in the complaint did not satisfy the elements of the claims asserted. The Court noted that a reasonable legal analysis would have demonstrated the obvious deficiencies in the case and resulted in dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims. Even when plaintiffs were made aware that some of their claims were meritless, they failed to withdraw or correct them. Asserting claims that are neither warranted by existing law nor supported by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law is a clear violation of Rule 11(b)(2). Sanctions for Rule 11 violations can only be assessed against opposing counsel and not plaintiffs, as it was counsel’s obligation to examine the facts and discern whether they gave rise to a viable cause of action. The Court noted that this was not done in this case. In conclusion, the Court granted defendants’ motion for Rule 11 sanctions against plaintiffs’ counsel and her law firm on April 29, 2024.


Nguyen v. Mercer Island Boys Basketball Booster Club, Case 2:23-cv-00855-RSL (W.D. Wash. 2023). Retrieved from https://casetext.com/case/nguyen-v-mercer-island-boys-basketball-booster-club-3

Nguyen v. Mercer Island Boys Basketball Booster Club, Case 2:23-cv-00855-RSL (W.D. Wash. 2024). Retrieved from https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.wawd.322939/gov.uscourts.wawd.322939.59.0.pdf

Deondra E. Johnson is a Sport Management Ph.D. student at Troy University specializing in research related to sport law and diversity in sport and recreation. She has delivered two presentations at professional conferences. She lives in Warner Robins, GA.

Michael S. Carroll is a Full Professor of Sport Management at Troy University specializing in research related to sport law and risk management in sport and recreation. He also serves as Online Program Coordinator for Troy University and works closely with students in the TROY doctoral program.

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