A federal jury yesterday awarded $260,000 to one of two men for being attacked by a member of NBA star Allen Iverson's entourage inside a D.C. nightclub.
The jury's decision against Iverson and bodyguard Jason Kane covers bar patron Marlin Godfrey's medical bills, pain and suffering. Jurors later rejected the plaintiffs' argument that Mr. Godfrey should be awarded punitive damages.
Mr. Godfrey and another patron, David Anthony Kittrell, sued the former Georgetown University guard for $20 million. They said Iverson's entourage beat them in 2005 for refusing to leave the club's VIP section for the basketball star.
The jury found Mr. Kane liable for assaulting Mr. 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 Mr. Kane. The jury did not find either of the men liable for assaulting Mr. Kittrell.
The jury of nine members in U.S. District Court deliberated for about 13 hours over three days before reaching its verdict.
Plaintiffs' attorney Gregory L. Lattimer told jurors that punitive damages were needed to send Iverson the message that he must take responsibility for the people who work for him. He said Iverson, a Denver Nuggets guard, earns $23 million a year.
"If you're going to a send a message to him, you have to take that into account," he said of Iverson's salary, "because he doesn't understand."
Iverson's attorney, Alan C. Milstein, said additional damages were not warranted.
"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," he said.
Mr. Lattimer told jurors that when his clients declined to leave the VIP section of Eyebar on July 20, 2005, Mr. Kane and another man, Terrance Williams, delivered a "vicious, doglike beating," kicking and stomping on Mr. Godfrey. He said Mr. Kittrell was attacked later.
The lawsuit stated that Iverson was responsible for the brawl because he failed to properly supervise Mr. Kane and Mr. Williams. It did not state that Iverson took part in the fight. The lawsuit also accused Mr. Kane of assault and battery for beating Mr. Godfrey with items that included a bottle.
Mr. Williams was not working for Iverson that night and was not named in the lawsuit, but Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Kittrell tried to prove that he has been a de facto security guard for Iverson.
They showed jurors an excerpt of the MTV practical joke show "Punk'd" in which Mr. Williams is seen handling security duties during a setup of Iverson.
Mr. Williams said he was merely hamming for the camera. The jury agreed, determining that Mr. Williams was not working for Iverson the night of the brawl.
Iverson testified last week that he didn't see the fight, and that he left the club before the brawl became serious. He said the two men suing him were trying to cash in on his fame and fortune. Iverson's 90-minute testimony was the only court appearance he made during the case.
Mr. Kane denied taking part in the fight, saying he left with Iverson as trouble brewed.
Iverson faces another lawsuit for a nightclub fight involving his security in Hampton, Va. That happened less than two weeks before the incident at Eyebar, in the 1700 block of I Street Northwest.
The Hampton case has not been scheduled for trial, said Stephen W. Bricker, a Richmond lawyer representing the plaintiffs. Last month, attorneys filed an amended complaint adding Mr. Kane as a defendant, he said.
Mr. Bricker said the two incidents were separate but "it's kind of like Afghanistan affects Iraq, or Iraq affects Afghanistan."
nnAssociated Press writer Sonja Barisic contributed to this report.