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Justices Back Family Of Athlete Who Collapsed

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - The Florida Supreme Court sided with a family that filed a negligence suit against the Lee County School Board after a 15-year-old boy collapsed during a high-school soccer game in 2008.

In a 5-2 ruling Thursday, the court overturned a ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in favor of the school district.

The lawsuit has focused on delays in resuscitating Abel Limones Jr., who suffered a severe brain injury after he collapsed and stopped breathing. An automated external defibrillator was at the site of the game, but it was not brought onto the field to help a coach in trying to resuscitate the teen.

Thursday's ruling, written by Justice R. Fred Lewis, sent the case back for a trial and said a jury should decide whether the school district breached duties to supervise the teen and to take "reasonable measures and come to his aid" to prevent the injury from getting worse.

"In this case, Abel was a student who was injured while he participated in a school-sponsored soccer game under the supervision of school officials,'' said the ruling, joined by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry. "Therefore, we conclude 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."

Justice Charles Canady wrote a brief dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Ricky Polston.

"The News Service of Florida contributed to this report."

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