A short overview of the failed lawsuit.
A former coach of tennis star Naomi Osaka and her sister, Mari, failed in his lawsuit against the young tennis players and their father. The Amended Complaint, filed in Broward County, and given Case No.: CACE19002954 by the Clerk, was dismissed on September 13, 2019 for failure to state a cause of action.
The case, filed by Christophe Jean and styled Christophe Jean Plaintiff vs. Leonard Francois, et al, named Naomi and Mari Osaka, as well as their father Leonard Francois, as Defendants. I have unofficial copies of the Amended Complaint, Motion to Dismiss, and the Order of Dismissal attached for your convenience.
Procedurally this case was resolved in favor of the Defendants via a Pre-Answer Motion, in this case called a Motion to Dismiss. These Motions are often used to dispose of a case when there is a fatal defect in the Complaint or in this case, the Cause(s) of Action. The Court outlines the procedural posture in the Order of Dismissal and I encourage you to read it (it’s only 5 pages long).
Failure to State a Cause of Action
When a Complaint filed lacks the essential elements necessary for the Court to grant the party relief, it is said that the Complaint fails to state a cause of action. In this case, the Complaint alleged three separate Counts, or Causes of Action: Breach of Contract, Quantum Meruit, and Unjust Enrichment. By alleging three separate causes of action, a Plaintiff is hoping that if one fails, perhaps it may be possible to prevail on one of the other claims. It thi.s case, the entirety of the Complaint failed
Breach of Contract Count
There must be an enforceable contract. In this case, there was no enforceable contract for a number of reasons. The basic elements for a contract to be formed are Offer, Acceptance, and Consideration. In the Order of Dismissal entered by the Court in this case, the Court found that there was no consideration offered by the Plaintiff and therefore “…absent consideration, there is no contract.” Not only did the contract lack the basic elements required to be enforceable, it involved minors, and was not compliant with the applicable Florida law.
Certain contracts are against the public policy of the State and understandably the State will refuse to enforce those. In this case, the purported contract was with two minors, was for longer than 3 years, and was therefore unenforceable. In this case, the attorneys for the three Defendants argued in their Motion to Dismiss that the purported contract is repugnant to the public policy of the State of Florida and therefore not enforceable. A Plaintiff seeking to enforce an unenforceable contract is unable to state a claim for breach of contract. Additionally, as the Court described in the Order of Dismissal, both children, Naomi and Mari, disavowed the contract, rendering it unenforceable.
Voidable contracts are contracts that can be avoided under circumstances.
Contracts with minors are voidable unless they are approved by a Court. There is a procedure available by Florida statute designed to protect a party who contracts with a minor and to protect the child athlete or entertainer. The contract in this case was not submitted to the Court under §743.08(3) of the Child Performer and Athlete Protection Act (the “Act”). The Act provides that for the contract to be valid and enforceable it must be approved by the Court. Once the Court ratifies the contract, the minor may not disaffirm the contract based upon the legal disability of minority. In this case this procedure was not followed, and as a result the Plaintiff is denied any protection under the Statute.
Quantum Meruit and Unjust Enrichment Counts – they both failed because the Osakas were minors, and the Courts have routinely held that such causes of action cannot be brought against minors.
Claim against Francois failed because the Court found that as the father, he did not enter into any contract individually, but acted solely as an agent for his minor daughters.
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