Soccer Business Bits: Legal Analysis of the Jaqua Situation, July Fourth Round-up and More

soundersFor the second time since the season started, a Seattle Sounders forward has had his name linked with sexual assault allegations.  The first instance involved Freddy Montero, and those charges were quickly dropped.  Over the weekend, a civil complaint was filed against Montero’s strike partner, Nate Jaqua.  The claim primarily sounds in battery, but includes graphic descriptions of alleged sexual conduct between Jaqua and the female plaintiff.  The plaintiff is a former college soccer player.  Other defendants include the Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS and the Houston Dynamo.  We will reluctantly put on our lawyer hat for a moment and discuss these allegations.

Importantly, this is a civil case, which means that while Jaqua does not face potential criminal penalties (e.g. jail), he does face potential financial damages.  In addition, the standard of proof is typically lower in civil court, where fact finders are asked to use a “more likely than not” or 51% standard.  Because this is a civil action, the plaintiff’s identity has been made public.  Moreover, this is an action that is being pursued by her and not the State of Oregon.  Reports indicate that the police have never investigated these charges.

The inclusion of multiple co-defendants smacks of significant over-reaching by the plaintiff.  While this certainly adds deep pockets  to the case (and can help settlement),  the claims against the defendants other than Jaqua sound in “vicarious liability”.  Put differently, the plaintiff is alleging that these defendants are responsible because Jaqua was acting on their behalf in perpetuating the assault of the plaintiff.  However, under the traditional framework of vicarious liability utilized in Oregon, a plaintiff must prove the following three elements to make out a prima facie case of vicaroius liability:   (1) the conduct must have occurred substantially within the time and space limits authorized by the employment; (2) the employee must have been motivated, at least partially, by a purpose to serve the employer; and (3) the act must have been of a kind that the employee was hired to perform. It is hard to see how any of those elements exist in this case.   A copy of the complaint is here.

We will of course monitor this case as it moves forward.  Suffice to say, Jaqua has forefully denied the allegations.

Independence Day has come and gone, and with it, another week of MLS, WPS and Gold Cup Action.  In Colorado, just under 20k enjoyed the annual July 4th festivities, as the Rapids came up short against Chicago.  In RSL, a dissappointing crowd of 17,400 watched RSL escape with a tie, while 20k were in Los Angeles to see the Galaxy hold off New England.  Red Bull road woes continued, as more than 14k watched New York come up short against Dallas, while a packed house saw Kansas City fall short to Houston at Community America Ballpark.  As always, we recommend that you go here for a detailed look at MLS attendance.

In WPS action, just over 4k were in Chicago for a mid-week game against DC.  A distrubingly low crowd of 1,800 were in New Jersey for a July 4th match between New Jersey and Boston. An apparent crowd of about 5k was in DC for their Sunday evening tilt with Las Angeles.

In Gold Cup play, a small crowd of just over 15k saw the United States beat Grenada and Honduras beat Hati in Seattle.  The July 3 doubleheader in Los Angeles, featuring Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica and Canada brought a 27k sellout.  Games will move to Foxboro, Dallas, Philadelphia for the next rounds with the semi finals in Chicago and finals in New Jersey.