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Rude v. Adeboyeku

May 15, 2008

JONATHAN W. RUDE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OLAYINKA ADEBOYEKU, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Now before the Court comes plaintiff Jonathan W. Rude's renewed motion [78] for summary judgment as to defendant Anthony B. Wood. Upon full consideration of the motion, opposition brief, reply, the entire record herein, and applicable law, the motion will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part for the reasons set forth below.

I. BACKGROUND

On June 27, 2004, plaintiff and defendants Anthony Wood and Olayinka Adeboyeku were involved in a fight outside the Dancing Crab at Washington Harbour, a restaurant and bar located in the District of Columbia. In that fight, plaintiff sustained substantial injuries, which form the basis of this litigation.

During the summer of 2003, plaintiff, a Georgetown University football player, was employed as a doorman and bouncer at the Dancing Crab. (See Rude Aff. ¶ 4.) At the time of the events giving rise to this lawsuit, plaintiff was no longer a Dancing Crab employee. (See id. ¶ 6.) Adeboyeku was a University of Maryland football player employed at the Dancing Crab.

At approximately 1:45 a.m. on June 27, plaintiff went to the Dancing Crab to give Michael Gillman-his friend, teammate, and a Dancing Crab employee-a ride home. (See Gillman Aff. ¶ 14--15.) Adeboyeku saw plaintiff and was agitated by plaintiff's presence. Wood, who was 37 years old and working at the Dancing Crab as a doorman and bouncer on the evening in question, indicates that the source of Adeboyeku's agitation was that plaintiff was banned from the Dancing Crab due to a previous altercation with Adeboyeku. (See Wood Dep. 71:21--22, July 11, 2006; Opp. at 1--2.) Fearing that a dispute could arise, Police Officer Robert Owen, an off-duty officer employed part-time at the Dancing Crab, escorted plaintiff away. (See Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts [78-6] ¶¶ 22, 27.)

Sometime after Officer Owen and plaintiff separated, Adeboyeku followed plaintiff and Gillman along K Street away from the Dancing Crab. (See Opp. at 2.) Wood was either with Adeboyeku at this time or followed close behind. (See Wood Dep. 71:5--7, July 11, 2006.) A brawl then broke out between Adeboyeku and plaintiff, with both Wood and Gillman playing roles in the altercation. Although Wood at times maintains that Adeboyeku and plaintiff lunged at each other simultaneously to begin the physical altercation (see id. at 77:8--9), he also admits that Adeboyeku "lunged first" at plaintiff. (See id. at 106:9.) Wood's participation involved intervening to tackle plaintiff and then ensuring that Adeboyeku and plaintiff could have a "fair" one-on-one fight. (See Def.'s Am. Answers ¶¶ 31, 42.)Plaintiff faired poorly in this fight, causing Wood to at some point again intervene to pull Adeboyeku off of plaintiff, in effect ending the fight and preventing further injury to plaintiff. (See Gillman Aff. ¶ 35.)

On June 24, 2005, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court against defendants Wood and Adeboyeku.*fn1 In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that Wood and Adeboyeku "jointly engaged in an unprovoked and vicious 'tag team' assault and battery on plaintiff" on June 27, 2004. (Compl. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff contends that Wood encouraged, incited, and participated in the assault and battery, and prevented witnesses from intervening to prevent Adeboyeku from further attacking plaintiff. (See id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff's complaint seeks damages in the amount of $5,000,000 for his medical damages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and permanent injury and disfigurement that resulted from the assault. (See id. at 4.)

Plaintiff and Adeboyeku reached a confidential settlement agreement resolving their dispute, and on October 1, 2007, this Court issued an Order [75] dismissing plaintiff's complaint as to Adeboyeku, thus leaving Wood as the sole remaining defendant in this action.

Plaintiff's renewed motion for summary judgment as to Wood seeks to hold defendant liable for $73,600, which represents the actual medical expenses incurred by plaintiff as a result of the assault. (Pl.'s Mem. [78-5] at 7, 21.) Although Wood admits to assault and battery, at trial he intends to establish the affirmative defense that he intervened solely in the defense of Adeboyeku, who Wood actually and reasonably thought was entitled to self-defense.*fn2

II. APPLICABLE LAW

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a court must grant summary judgment when the evidence in the record demonstrates that there are no disputed issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment on the undisputed facts as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists if the evidence, when viewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, "is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). However, a party must provide more than "a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position; the quantum of evidence must be such that a jury could reasonably find for the moving party. Id. at 252. The burden is on the movant to make the initial showing of the absence of a genuine issue of material fact in dispute. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The moving party is then entitled to judgment as a matter of law if the non-moving party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322. "[A]t the summary judgment stage, a judge may not make credibility determinations, weigh the evidence, or draw inferences from the ...


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