Man awarded $260K in lawsuit against Iverson
WASHINGTON -- A federal jury awarded $260,000 on Monday to one of two men who sued NBA star Allen Iverson after they said they were beaten by his entourage at a Washington nightclub in 2005.
The jury's decision against Iverson and his bodyguard, Jason Kane, covers bar patron Marlin Godfrey's medical bills and pain and suffering. But the jury chose not to award punitive damages, which could have significantly raised the damage award.
Godfrey and another patron, David Anthony Kittrell, sued the Denver Nuggets guard for $20 million, saying they were beaten by his entourage in July 2005. The attacks, they said, followed their refusal to vacate the Eyebar club's VIP section for Iverson.
Iverson testified last week that he didn't see the fight, and was whisked out of the club before the brawl became serious. He said the two men suing him were merely trying to cash in on his fame and fortune. Iverson's 90-minute testimony was the only court appearance he made during the case.
The nine-member jury in U.S. District Court deliberated for about 13 hours over three days before reaching its verdict.
The jury found that Kane was liable for assault and battery of Godfrey, who was awarded $250,000 for pain and suffering and $10,000 for his medical bills. Iverson was found negligent for failing to supervise Kane. The jury did not find either of the men liable for assaulting Kittrell.
Attorneys for Iverson and Kane said they were disappointed and planned an appeal. Iverson lawyer Alan Milstein also said the NBA player's absence from the trial was not a reflection of his opinion of the court case, an argument frequently made by the plaintiffs.
"Mr. Iverson was here every day through me," Milstein said. "He has defended himself vigorously and he continues to defend himself vigorously."
NBA spokesman Tim Frank and Nuggets spokesman Eric Sebastian both declined to comment.
Godfrey's lawyer, Gregory Lattimer, urged jurors Monday to award punitive damages, saying the only way to send a message to Iverson was through his wallet. Jurors were told before their deliberations that Iverson makes $23 million each year.
But Godfrey said after the verdict that he was not disappointed he was only given the award for medical costs and pain and suffering.
"For me it was never about the money," he said. "It's always been about holding them accountable."
Lattimer told jurors during the trial that when his clients declined to leave the VIP section of Washington's Eyebar on July 20, 2005, Kane and another man, Terrance Williams, delivered a "viscous, doglike beating," kicking and stomping on Godfrey.
He said Kane and Williams beat Godfrey so badly that he blacked out and suffered head injuries, damaged ear drums, and long-term psychological problems.
The lawsuit claimed Iverson was responsible for the brawl because he failed to properly supervise Kane and Williams -- but it did not claim he took part in the fight. The suit also accused Kane of assault and battery for allegedly beating Godfrey with items that included a bottle.
Jury foreman Dave Peterson said "there was no question" that Iverson was negligent in failing to control Kane that night. And he said Iverson's presence in the courtroom and involvement in the case did not sway jurors.
"The fact he was a superstar was really not something we could consider as a factor," he said.
Williams was not working for Iverson that night and was not included in the lawsuit, but Godfrey and Kittrell tried to prove that he has been a de facto security guard for Iverson in the past.
They showed jurors an excerpt of the MTV practical joke show "Punk'd" in which Williams is seen handling security duties during a setup of Iverson. Williams said he was merely hamming up for the camera. The jury agreed, ruling that Williams was not working for Iverson the night of the brawl.
Kane denied taking part in the fight, saying he left with Iverson as trouble brewed. Kane was not present for Monday's verdict.
Iverson faces another lawsuit for another nightclub fight involving his security in Hampton, Va. That happened less than two weeks before the Washington fight.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press