The Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of former East Lee County High student, Abel Limones Jr. and his family, with a 5-2 decision that overturned a prior ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in favor of the school district in the highly publicized – South Florida Limones v. School District of Lee County lawsuit.
In 2008, the family of Abel Limones Jr. claimed negligence against the Lee County School Board after the 15-year-old soccer player collapsed. The coach asked for the automated external defibrillator (AED) laying on a golf cart about 20 feet away, but no one brought it to him.
The lawsuit claims it was the delays in resuscitating Abel Limones Jr. that has caused his current condition. Court documents revealed several important issues:
- Limones suffered from an undetected heart condition.
- When he collapsed on the field, Coach Thomas Busatta and two parent-nurses rushed to assist as 911 was called.
- Busatta testified he couldn’t find a pulse and he and a nurse performed CPR.
- Busatta, who was certified in the use of an automated external defibrillator, testified that he yelled for the AED located near the end of the soccer field but nobody brought it to him.
Emergency medical services arrived approximately 10 minutes after Limones collapsed and utilized a fully automatic AED to revive him. Limones survived, but the lack of oxygen during that time left him in a vegetative state requiring full-time care for the remainder of his life.
In Thursday’s ruling, Justice R. Fred Lewis, wrote for the court that when Abel collapsed the school board owed him the common law duty to “come to his aid and prevent aggravation of his injury.” He sent the case back for a trial and said a jury should decide whether the school district breached duties to supervise the teen and took the correct measures to prevent the injury from getting worse.
The ruling also states that “Abel was a student who was injured while he participated in a school-sponsored soccer game under the supervision of school officials.” The ruling, joined by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry concluded that Respondent (the school district) owed Abel a duty of supervision and to act with reasonable care under the circumstances; specifically, Respondent owed Abel a duty to take appropriate post-injury efforts to avoid or mitigate further aggravation of his injury.”
The last seven years has been emotionally, financially and physically hard on the Limones family, watching their son go from a superstar soccer-player to a boy that needs constant care. The family, including Abel Limones Sr. and his wife, Abel Jr., and two younger siblings, live in Naples, Florida.