By Michael Lewis
A member of the Fire Department of New York and the College Point Flames soccer team has sued the U.S. Soccer Federation, a referee and former coach and a player with the Oyster Bay Park team for $10 million-plus and other damages for severe injuries incurred during a fight in a Long Island Soccer Football League game last year.
College Point goalkeeper Jason Hickey of Pearl River, N.Y. is seeking a total of $21 million in damages from referee Damir Culum, Oyster Bay Park player Isaias Gomez-Gamboa and head coach Jose Abarca and the USSF.
Gomez-Gamboa also has been charged with second degree felony assault in a Queens criminal court.
The College Point Flames are the official soccer team of the FDNY.
In court papers filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Queens on Thursday, the aforementioned defendants were sued for $10 million in damages. Additionally, Gomez-Gamboa was sued for $10 million for assault and battery. Hickey also was seeking punitive damages from Culum of Flushing, and Abarca and Gomez-Gamboa, who both call Oyster Bay home, the suit said.
The lawsuit, filed by Hickey’s attorney, Rocco G. Avallone of law firm of Avallone & Bellistri, LLP. in Lake Success, N.Y., claimed that the incident and injuries “were caused by the negligence and carelessness of the defendants.” The filing also alleged that the USSF and Culum failed to provide a safe playing environment for Hickey and that the federation failed to train Culum on the proper supervision an and protection during a game.
The suit claimed that Culum, a USSF referee, failed to properly inspect player passes and the team roster. That allowed an unregistered and illegal player, Gomez-Gamboa, to play in the LISFL Second Division game. Abarca, who lives in Oyster Bay, gave the roster to the Culum.
Before each game at the youth, amateur and semi-pro levels, the referee and many times the assistant referees will check and double check player passes and team rosters.
The incident occurred in the first half of the College Point-Oyster Bay game at College Point Field No. 1 in College Point, Queens on Sept. 22. A fight ensued and Hickey was knocked to the ground and was kicked in the face by Gamboa-Gomez, the lawsuit alleged.
Hickey suffered “serious, severe and protracted personal injuries,” the lawsuit said. According to the suit, the injuries included multiple right side facial fractures, right orbital floor reconstruction with implants, right nasal bone and septal fractures, brain bleeding, disfigurement, physical pain and anguish.
The lawsuit stated that Hickey had received medical treatment and that he believed to have “sustained injuries of a permanent nature and will likely be forced to undergo more medical treatment in the years to come.”
Hickey has not been able to work since the incident and has been assigned a desk job due to the injuries, according to Avallone.
On or about Feb. 14, Gomez-Gamboa was arrested and arraigned as he was charged with second degree felony assault in Queens County Criminal Court. Also on or about that date, the Queens County Criminal Court judge ordered an order of protection for Hickey against Gomez-Gamboa.
In that Sept. 22 game, College Point was awarded a 3-0 forfeit win in a contest that saw four red cards, three awarded to Oyster Bay Park, one to College Point. According to the LISFL website, Chris Bravo, Jordan Contreras and Erwin Zavala were given their marching orders, as did College Point’s Anton Shipman.
The USSF had no comment.