WASHINGTON (AP) – 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.
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 total award could be much higher because the jury was still weighing punitive damages.
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 assaulting 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.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Gregory L. Lattimer, told jurors that punitive damages were needed to send Iverson the message that he needs to take responsibility for the people who work for him. He also noted that Iverson earns $23 million a year.
“If you’re going to a send a message to him, you have to take that into account,” Lattimer said of Iverson’s salary, “because he doesn’t understand.”
Iverson’s lawyer, Alan Milstein, argued that additional damages were not warranted in the case.
“There’s been no evidence Mr. Iverson walked into this nightclub with any kind of evil motive or malicious intent to cause harm to anybody,” Milstein said.
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 Kittrell was later attacked as well.
Godfrey and Kittrell claimed Iverson’s bodyguard and entourage started the melee on July 20, 2005, when the pair refused to leave the club’s VIP section.
The pair testified that Kane and his friend, Terrance Williams, beat Godfrey so badly that he blacked out and suffered long term health problems.
The lawsuit said 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.
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 set-up 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.
Iverson faces another lawsuit for another nightclub fight involving his security in Hampton, Va. That happened less than two weeks before the Washington fight.