*Its a shame when people who are supposed to be professionals can’t keep a modicum of composure when things are not going their way. Such is the case of a hot-headed soccer player who is now in prison for landing a fatal punch on the referee during a soccer game last summer. Now, the dead man’s wife has filed a $51 million lawsuit against the player.
The figure represents $1 million for each of the 51 additional years that John Bieniewicz, a 44-year-old father of two, could have lived, according to the lawsuit in Wayne County (Michigan) court.
The player, Bassel Saad, is being sued by Kristen Bieniewicz of Westland, MI. She represents her husband’s estate.
Saad also controls the team and the soccer league.
Bieniewicz died after Saad punched him in the head just moments before Saad would have been ejected from a weekend game.
After two days of testimony in the case, Judge Kathleen McCann of the 16th District Court in Livonia said,
“Mr. Saad approached Mr. Bieniewicz without provocation and struck him with such vehemence that he had to know — anyone should know in this day and age — that it could cause death.There is no, no situation where we can believe that you can punch someone unaware and not expect that there will be a result that is not going to cause death. You just can’t do that, so in this case I am binding over on this charge.”
And attorney James Acho, who had known Bieniewicz since childhood said,
“We hope this lawsuit sends a message that when you commit uncivilized acts in a civilized world there are consequences, even beyond the criminal realm.”
Messages were left for Saad’s attorneys by the Associated Press who sought a statement or comment in the criminal case as well as at a telephone listing for the soccer league.
Saad, 37, was recently sentenced to at least eight years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He expressed remorse in court and said he prays for the Bieniewicz family.
The Michigan United Soccer League is also named in the lawsuit because they allowed Saad to play in spite of his violent reputation.
Citing his doctor, the lawsuit described Bieniewicz, who had two children, as being in great health with the potential to live to age 95.
“I speak for his dozens of buddies, many of whom go back to our days at Catholic Central High, and we want justice for his family,” said Acho, who is handling the case with co-counsel Karen Daley.
In July, police released the 911 call that was placed from the site of the game at Mies Park in Livonia, 15 miles northwest of downtown Detroit.
On the call, a woman whose name is unknown tells a dispatcher: “We have somebody who just assaulted a referee… The referee is knocked out. He’s not waking up.”
[Listen to the 911 call here, courtesy of CBS Detroit]