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Monday, August 27, 2012
Fan's suit vs. Kobe Bryant settled

By Brian Kamenetzky

If you knew about this at all, I'm willing to bet you'd forgotten.

During a game at Memphis in November 2005, Kobe Bryant went into the stands after a loose ball and collided with Bill Geeslin, an insurance salesman from (relatively nearby) Blytheville, AR. Geeslin was diagnosed with a bruised lung cavity, and needed about two weeks to recover. Geeslin sued, asking for $75,000 in damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault. Reports Lawrence Buser of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
"I recall a fast-paced incident seeing him come to me, running into me and then forearming me," Geeslin said in a 2008 deposition. "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."

He surmised that Bryant was angry that his team was losing or that the referee called no foul on the Grizzlies."

Geeslin died in 2008 -- unconnected to the injuries suffered at the game -- however the suit continued on with his mother serving as plaintiff before being tossed out in 2010. (Kudos to Dan Devine at Ball Don't Lie for digging up a copy of the judgment.)

In December 2011, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated part of the claim, telling the lower court to take another look. Jury selection in that matter was set to begin today, but Friday the sides agreed on a confidential settlement.

Nearly seven years after the initial incident, it's worth noting. The wheels of justice, they do grind slowly.

Settling says nothing about Kobe's actions in that moment. Given his means, it's money well spent for Bryant to avoid the hassle, attention and expense of a trial. I just find it amazing (albeit without having seen the play) the suit actually made it this far, and wonder what would have happened had Geeslin's estate actually prevailed. I picture a future in which payday seeking fans pay top dollar to sit courtside, hurling themselves at the first player entering the stands chasing a ball.

Assuming, of course, players ever went after the rock that hard again.

(H/T to Ball Don't Lie)