What is a “Celebrity Beatdown“? It is the act of a celebrity’s security or “posse-entourage” inflicting a violent pecking order of life lesson on those who refuse to acknowledge unworthiness to be blessed with the presence of self-anointed greatness. A refusal to acknowledge that laws of man and universe have changed when a high profile athlete or other celebrity walks into the room. Refusal to acknowledge a new world order. These beatdowns almost always occur in the alcohol fueled volatility of the strip and nightclub scene.
In fairness to high profile athletes and other celebrities, they often fall victim to the “reverse beatdown.” They walk into an environment wanting nothing more than to enjoy their drink and company in peace. They fall victim to the the 30k millionaire douchebag with an attitude looking to “makes his bones” and pay his college tuition by provoking an altercation. It is also not unheard of for members of a celebrity entourage to actually pay someone to start something and allow them “beat them down” so they can look like heroes to the celeb.
The undisputed king of the athlete- celebrity beatdown would have to be former NFL player Pacman Jones. It would appear to be an accident if there not a posse altercation of some kind when he walks into a club, most often of the “strip” kind. In the music world, Kanye West seams to be well versed in the art of beatdown as evidenced by his recent arrest arising out of an altercation at LAX airport. The NBA is no stranger to the “celebrity beatdown”.
Allen Iverson plays professional basketball for the Detroit Pistons. As many celebrities do, he often hires bodyguards to accompany him when he attends public events. On July 20 2005 Alan was attending his annual charity softball weekend event in Washington D.C. He went out that night security in tow. Iverson’s manager Gary Moore was in charge of hiring Iverson’s bodyguards. He employed Jason Kane to provide Alan security for this particular event and post event festivities.
After attending the charity event Iverson and his entourage entered the Eyebar nightclub shortly after midnight. Jason Kane was his bodyguard. They went straight to the small VIP area of the club, where patron Marlin Godfrey and his party were already seated at a table.
An argument broke out between Godfrey and Terrance Williams. Mr Williams was Kane’s friend. He sometimes worked as Iverson’s bodyguard. He just happened to be in the club that night. Witnesses testified that that Kane and Williams began to assert their superior “posse status” by aggressively ordering patrons, including Godfrey and his party, to leave the VIP area to make room for Iverson and his friends.
Soon after Curtis Fitzgerald – an Eyebar security employee and friend of Kane’s and Godfrey’s – intervened to defuse the situation and move Godfrey’s party to a different table, Kane shoved Fitzgerald and the beatdown began. When Godfrey, moved toward the altercation to “help Fitzgerald, he was attacked,beaten and injured.
A lawsuit was filed by Godfrey and one other patron David A. Kittrell, accusing Iverson, of failing to supervise his security team.
Iverson testified that he was at Eyebar for about 20 minutes and did not see the five-minute fight erupt.
The trial lasted six days. A federal jury found Iverson and bodyguard Jason Kane liable ordering them to pay 260k as well as 10k in medical expenses to Godfrey who sustained a injured rotator cuff, temporary loss of hearing and broken blood vessels in his head. Kittrell was zeroed out by the jury.
When interviewed after the trial, Juror Althea Hill said the panel believed that Iverson was liable for the fight because he hired Kane. “When you hire someone to do work for you, you should check out all aspects and know everything there is to know about your employee,” she said.
Iverson appealed the verdict. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit just recently upheld the verdict.
Here is some of the actual trial documents in the trial for your viewing pleasure. They are all in pdf format. Some files are large. You can form your own opinions on what happened.
1. The Verdict
2. Witness James Daniels Deposition
3. Witness Saul Simmington Deposition
4. Transcript of Terrance Williams trial testimony
5. Jury Notes-Two questions to judge give you some perspective on what they were thinking during deliberation.
6. Court Of Appeals decision affirming the lower court verdict.
Allen has another “beatdown lawsuit” pending in D.C. for an incident that took place at “Zanzibar On The Waterfront“. Gregory Broady is alleging the he received his beatdown from an unidentified member of Iverson’s security team. He is seeking 750k.
There are lessons to be learned from the beatdown scenario and for celebrities utilizing private security. While the verdict in the Eyebar case did not make any new law, it drives home the fact that high profile athletes and celebrities should be extra careful in how these types of incidents are handled and instructions given to security. If Allen had specific instructions and security procedures in place would this have happened? If it did, Kane may very well have found himself outside the scope of his employment paying the entire verdict himself. In all jurisdictions there is going to be some type of duty to supervise your bodyguards and other security employees when you venture out into the night. This duty may even be heightened when the celeb walks into a nightclub environment ripe for an altercation. Leave your security and posse to their own beatdown instincts at your peril. For 260 grand Alan is probably wishing he got a few punches in himself.