Da Silva v. Gomes, 2018 ONCA 610 (CanLII)

Soccer player punched during recreational game. The Court of Appeal upholds lower court summary judgment dismissing claim against soccer team, league, coach and others.  

Date Heard: June 29, 2018 | Full Decision [PDF]

This action arises as a result of an assault that occurred during a recreational soccer league game. The Plaintiff brought a personal injury action against the player who assaulted him, Brandon Gomes (“Mr. Gomes”) and against Hamilton Sparta Sports Club for which Mr. Gomes played, the Ontario Soccer Association Incorporation under whose auspices the game was played, and several other associated individuals including Mr. Gomes’ coach (collectively, the “Soccer League Defendants”). The Soccer League Defendants brought a summary judgment motion seeking to dismiss the claim against them on the basis they met the standard of care owed to the Plaintiff and that there was no basis for a finding of negligence. Mr. Gomes did not take a position on the motion.

The Plaintiff’s case rested on proving that Mr. Gomes’ previous conduct showed a predisposition for committing violence against an opposing player, and that accordingly, the Soccer League Defendants were negligent in permitting him to play.  However, the motion judge rejected this claim. Justice Shaw noted that while Mr. Gomes had twice been disciplined before the assault, it was for being verbally inappropriate with referees, not for violence. In Her Honour’s view, these two prior incidents were not predictive or demonstrative of the type of violent behaviour demonstrated by Mr. Gomes when he assaulted the Plaintiff. Further, Mr. Gomes had provided evidence that he knew it was improper to punch another player but did so anyways impulsively. Therefore, on the issue of causation, Justice Shaw noted that, based on the evidence, she was unable to conclude that the lack of or improper discipline would have deterred Mr. Gomes such that the assault would not have occurred. The Plaintiff’s arguments relating to the Occupiers’ Liability Act for failing to ensure that the playing field was safe were also rejected by Justice Shaw who noted there was no evidence that “any site safety issues or that the playing field was not safe.”  Accordingly, the Soccer League Defendants were granted summary judgment dismissing the action against them.

In upholding the summary judgment decision dismissing the claim against the Soccer League Defendants, the Court of Appeal confirmed that Justice Shaw properly relied upon school board cases indicating that supervising authorities are not legally responsible for “a sudden unexpected event in the midst of an acceptable, safe activity.” There were no palpable and overriding errors and the appeal was dismissed.

 

Read the full decision [PDF]
Susan Dhaliwal
Written by

As a personal injury lawyer, Susan is passionate about and dedicated to obtaining fair compensation for injured victims. She knows firsthand the legal process can be complicated to navigate and uses a positive and compassionate approach when assisting her clients.

Following her call to the Bar in 2012, Susan has limited her practice exclusively to the area of personal injury. She frequently appears before the Superior Court of Justice and has successfully represented clients at arbitration before the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

Susan is active in her community and can provide legal services in Punjabi.