There was no reverse slam dunk for basketball star Allen Iverson today.
Iverson, a guard for the Detroit Pistons, unsuccessfully contested a negligence case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Iverson is liable for an attack committed by a bodyguard at a night club in the District, a three-judge panel ruled unanimously in upholding a verdict against Iverson for negligent supervision.
The plaintiff, Marlin Godfrey, who sued Iverson and his bodyguard Jason Kane, was a VIP patron at the Eyebar the night of July 20, 2005, when a fight broke out. Godfrey suffered a concussion, ruptured eardrum, and a torn rotator cuff, among other injuries, according to court records.
A jury in July 2007 found Iverson and his bodyguard guilty and awarded $260,000 to Godfrey after the trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Most of the money was for pain and suffering. Kane, accused of kicking and punching Godfrey, was found guilty of assault and battery.
The appeals court said Iverson failed to adequately supervise an employee that Iverson knew or should have known had behaved dangerously.
“The evidence in this case supported the jury’s finding that Kane attacked Godfrey in a fight that lasted several minutes, and that Iverson stood and watched without attempting to do anything to stop the beating,” Senior Circuit Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote for the panel, which included Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson and Merrick Garland.
Gregory Lattimer, who argued the case for Godfrey, says he is elated by the ruling. “I think it sends a clear message that when you are present you can’t sit there and say nothing and do nothing,” Lattimer says. “It sends a message to Mr. Iverson, who really needed to be sent a message.”
Iverson’s lawyer, William “Billy” Martin, a partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, could not immediately be reached for comment. Martin argued last fall in the D.C. Circuit that there was insufficient evidence to hold Iverson accountable for negligent supervision.