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Thursday, July 05, 2007
Closing Arguments in Allen Iverson's Trial
Closing arguments will occur later today in a lawsuit against Denver Nuggets star Allen Iverson regarding whether he was negligent for members of his security team allegedly injuring two men in a fight that occurred in 2005 at the Eyebar Lounge, a trendy nightclub, pictured below to the right, that is located in Northwest D.C. (and is somewhat near Iverson's alma mater, Georgetown University).
The fight originates from when the two plaintiffs, Marlin Godfrey and David Anthony Kittrell, both 37-year-old Maryland residents, were sitting in VIP seats reserved for Iverson and other persons. Iverson's security detail asked Godfrey and Kittrell to move and they refused, which led to an argument, and then shoving and more ensued. The plaintiffs claim they suffered various injuries at the hands of Iverson's security guards, including emotional distress and a torn rotator cuff.
Now they are suing Iverson for $20 million, alleging that he was negligent in how he instructed his security detail to behave. Iverson has testified that he was not anywhere near the fight; he was in another part of the bar at the time. The case is being tried before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs have tried several quixotic arguments against Iverson, including an attempt to compel rap star 50 Cent to testify as a character witness against him (Judge Huvelle rejected the attempt for, among many other reasons, the lack of jurisdiction over 50 Cent since he lived over 100 miles away).
I can't speak to the merits of the plaintiffs' claims, but assuming they are not meritorious and instead reflect an attempt to go after a deep pocket--better known as a "money grab"--I applaud Iverson and his attorneys, Alan Milstein and Billy Martin, for not settling. I'm sure it was very tempting to settle this case and simply pay off the plaintiffs to go away--especially considering how much time and energy a case like this requires from Iverson. But they choose to fight instead.
And this is pure speculation on my part, but I suspect that Iverson's resolve relates to frustration over being a victim of perception. By that I mean he's often criticized for the tattoos, rap music, and other lifestyle interests that don't appeal to a lot of Americans, some of whom seem to crave associating him with the "gangsta/thug" lifestyle whenever possible. As a result, whenever Iverson is near a potential civil claim, an opportunistic plaintiff likely sees an appealing target: a "bad guy" who is really rich.
Along those lines, maybe if we heard more about the less noted, more admirable sides of Iverson--a father of two who married his high school sweetheart, a celebrity who has clearly not forgotten about all the folks who helped him earlier in life, and a true warrior on the court--he would be viewed more as a "good guy" and thus be less of any easy target. That's not to say he's never messed up in life, as he clearly has at times (as have we all), but I can see why he would be easy prey for those among us who like to bring lawsuits, and I wonder to what extent public perception has fueled that.