Referee sues school board Suit also charges man with battery

November 08, 1992|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

A referee has filed a $1.2 million lawsuit against a Street man and the Harford County Board of Education over a Nov. 2, 1989, scuffle during halftime of a football game at North Harford High School.

Jay Blank of Newark, Del., is seeking $600,000 in damages from Allen Serra Jr. of the 3600 block of Ady Road in Street, accusing him of assault and battery, and $600,000 in damages from the Board of Education, alleging negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.

In the lawsuit filed Oct. 30, Mr. Blank says that Mr. Serra attacked him for no reason, injured and caused him humiliation. Mr. Blank also contends that the Board of Education and school officials should have foreseen Mr. Serra's propensity for violence and taken precautions to safeguard game officials.

Court records did not specify what medical treatment Mr. Blank may have required as a result of the incident.

Mr. Serra pleaded not guilty on two counts of battery in a January 1991 criminal trial in Harford Circuit Court. He did not contest the statement of facts, however, and was sentenced to 18 months and two years on each respective count. All but 30 days in the Harford Detention Center were suspended. In addition, he was placed on two years of supervised probation, ordered to serve 50 hours of community work and told to stay away from all non-collegiate amateur sports events.

In the civil lawsuit's statement of facts, Mr. Blank said he was standing with other game officials in the concession line at North Harford High during halftime of a game against Aberdeen High when Mr. Serra allegedly uttered an obscenity while demanding Mr. Blank get out of his way.

Mr. Blank said he couldn't step backward because of the crowd, but suggested Mr. Serra exit to the side.

Mr. Blank said Mr. Serra repeated the obscenity and pushed him in the chest and left shoulder, knocking him into fellow official John Vines.

Mr. Serra then allegedly splashed a cup of soda in Mr. Vines' face and wrestled him to the ground.

Mr. Blank said he tried to pull Mr. Serra off Mr. Vines and was repeatedly kicked and struck by Mr. Serra.

At that point, Mr. Serra was restrained and Principal Thomas Gibson arrived. Mr. Blank said he asked Mr. Gibson to call the police and have Mr. Serra restrained until officers arrived.

Mr. Blank said Mr. Gibson called police, but refused to restrain Mr. Serra, stating that he knew Mr. Serra's identity.

Mr. Blank said he later learned that Mr. Serra's alleged violent and abrasive conduct was known to school officials, that there had been prior incidents regarding threats and abusive language toward officials and that school officials or the Board of Education had taken no action to assure the safety of game officials from Mr. Serra.

In six counts, three each against Mr. Serra and the Board of Education, Mr. Blank is seeking $300,000 in compensatory damages and $900,000 in punitive damages, claiming he suffered and will continue to suffer severe mental anguish, distress, humiliation, and monetary losses.

Mr. Blank has requested a jury trial. No date has been set.

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