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Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray cleared in civil suit against JLA broadcast employee

Via RedWingsFeed, the Detroit Free Press’s David Ashenfelter reports that Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray was found not at monetary fault for injuries suffered by a Joe Louis Arena broadcaster during an incident in 2009—based upon a screw-up by the plaintiff’s former attorney:

A federal court jury this afternoon refused to award monetary damages to a woman who said Anaheim Ducks’ General Manager Bob Murray assaulted her with a chair at Joe Louis Arena when the Red Wings knocked the Ducks out of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs.

“I’m sorry beyond words,” Rachel Paris said outside the federal courthouse in Detroit after the eight-member jury deliberated for 45 minutes before concluding that Murray hadn’t assaulted her. She said the injuries she suffered in the episode “wiped out my life.”

Jurors told the Free Press they wanted to award damages to Paris because they thought she was injured in the incident. But they said they couldn’t do that without first concluding that Murray had intentionally assaulted Paris. They said many of the jurors felt her injuries were the result of an accident, not an assault.

Paris’ lawyers, Mayer Morganroth and Daniel Harold of Birmingham, said they were handicapped by decisions made by Paris’ previous lawyer, who withdrew from the case late last year. They said he failed to include a negligence count in the lawsuit, which would have enabled the jury to award damages to Paris even if they disagreed about whether Murray assaulted her.

“What lawyer doesn’t put a negligence claim in a lawsuit like this?” Morganroth said.

Paris was a stage manager who assisted sports broadcasters at the arena. She said in her lawsuit that Murray attacked her in a fit of rage, upset that his team has just lost a big game. Murray disputed that, saying he merely pushed aside two heavy chairs in the narrow press box in his rush to get to the team dressing room to console his players about the loss to the Wings. Although witnesses saw Paris get hit by a chair, no one testified that they saw Murray attack her. Paris said she was knocked against a wall in the narrow press box and fell to the floor after getting hit, leaving her with a debilitating shoulder injury and other problems.
...
The lawyer for Murray and the Ducks — Steven Potter of Auburn Hills — said he was pleased with the verdict: “I predicted that the jury would make the right decision and they did.

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Comments

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Man, how many times have we seen, in the last year alone, that involvement in the NHL puts one above the law?

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 08/20/12 at 07:26 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 08/20/12 at 05:26 PM ET

Or the fact that she was clearly full of shit and couldn’t back up her claims?

Posted by Garth on 08/20/12 at 09:31 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

her injuries were the result of an accident, not an assault.

I read this that he hit her with a chair, by accident.  I think damages would often be awarded because he had no business throwing a chair.  But guys like him seem to always get off.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 08/21/12 at 12:13 AM ET

Avatar

Yes, but she (her lawyer) sued him only for assault, not negligence. Pushing a chair without noticing someone next to it is not assault. Probably a gamble: he wanted jury to decide that Murray lost it and attacked her in a fit of rage, so they could get more money. That’s why he took out the easy option for the jury. But jury decided the other way.

Posted by Davor on 08/21/12 at 04:06 AM ET

cementslinger's avatar

He pushed, shoved, threw a chair aside out of his frustration of the result of the game.  Okay.  His actions caused bodily injury to somebody.  Obviously not intended, but nonetheless.  He may need to seek a couple anger management sessions and she may need to seek out the property damage insurance carrier.
It sucks that she was embarrassed, as I’m sure it drew attention to her as the accident happened.  And it’s also a shame that Murray is a dick.

Posted by cementslinger from Midland MI on 08/21/12 at 12:47 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

As the article - and Davor - point out, the failure to sue for negligence was a fatal flaw by her attorney.  Quite frankly, her best bet at this point is to sue him for malpractice, though her recovery will probably be somewhat limited compared to what she may have gotten here.  Negligence revolves around whether someone failed to meet the “reasonable person” standard in their actions, rather than a showing of intent.  Huge difference.  Sounds like the jury did a good job.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 08/21/12 at 01:52 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

To add to my last post….a typical suit wouldn’t need to be an either-or proposition (assault/battery OR negligence).  You’d throw in all the counts and argue the facts suggesting assault & battery to the jury, but leave the negligence as a fallback position.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 08/21/12 at 01:56 PM ET

wedge56's avatar

I have not seen any video, but it is hard for me to believe that unless he hit her repeatedly with the chair that it did anywhere near the damage she claimed it did.  According to other articles, it seems that she claimed walking distances were tough for her, but video existed of her taking a three mile round trip on foot to the grocery store etc, etc, etc. 

Sounds like a it was a bullshivoy lawsuit to begin with.

Posted by wedge56 on 08/21/12 at 06:26 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.