Eight years ago during some random regular season game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies, Kobe Bryant dove for a loose ball and wound up crashing into the courtside seats. In the fracas, he either purposely or accidentally hit a man who was sitting in the stands with his forearm. The man in question, Bill Geeslin, came away with a bruised lung cavity and, naturally, decided to sue Bryant for his troubles.
"I recall a fast-paced incident seeing him come to me, running into me and then forearming me," Geeslin said in a 2008 deposition (via the Memphis Commercial Appeal). "He intentionally forearmed me in the chest. He did not apologize. He walked away and pushed – he kind of pushed his arm toward me and glared at me and walked away."
In fairness to Geeslin, he seemed to be pretty up front about the damage sustained. During the court proceedings, he acknowledged that he was given medicine and a breathing machine to be used at home, that he used everything he was given, and that two weeks later his symptoms went away.
Two months after his 2008 deposition, Geeslin died. Despite that, presumably in his honor or something, his mother Betty decided to sub herself in as the plaintiff in the lawsuit. From there the case proceeded in the standard tedious fashion that these cases tend to proceed in. Via the Commercial Appeal:
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The suit, which asked for unspecified damages exceeding $75,000, was dismissed in 2010 by U.S. Dist. Judge S. Thomas Anderson, who said a spectator assumes a risk when attending a game and that the contact Bryant made with Geeslin was not offensive.
"Here, the defendant pushed plaintiff in the chest before returning to the game," Anderson wrote. "There can be no reasonable infringement of one's personal dignity from contact arising from the retrieval of a basketball under these facts."
Last December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed there were no grounds for Geeslin's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, but sent the case back to the trial court on his assault and battery claims.
"Although (Anderson) found that Geeslin had 'assumed the risk or consented to the entire contact between he and the defendant' by virtue of taking a courtside seat," the appellate judges said, "we find that the analysis applies only to the initial contact between Geeslin and Bryant and not the secondary, offensive contact described by Geeslin."
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Even though there didn't and still doesn’t appear to be any serious grounds for this lawsuit, on Monday, Bryant and his team decided to settle out of court anyway. The amount of the settlement wasn’t disclosed but, seeing as the initial suit was for $75,000, it’s probably safe to assume that it was substantially less than that.