122 F.3d 1060 (4th Cir. 1997), 96-1238, Davis v. Six Sixteen

Docket Nº:96-1238.
Citation:122 F.3d 1060
Party Name:Glenn Earl DAVIS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. SIX SIXTEEN, INCORPORATED, t/a Club Rogues; Samuel Charles Hampton, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:September 12, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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Page 1060

122 F.3d 1060 (4th Cir. 1997)

Glenn Earl DAVIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

SIX SIXTEEN, INCORPORATED, t/a Club Rogues; Samuel Charles Hampton, Defendants-Appellants.

No. 96-1238.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

September 12, 1997

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA4 Rule 36 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

Argued June 3, 1997.

Decided Sept. 12, 1997.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Norfolk. Henry C. Morgan, Jr., District Judge. (CA-95-441)

ARGUED: Edward L. Breeden, III, BREEDEN, MACMILLAN & GREEN, P.L.C., Norfolk, Virginia, for Appellants. David Marshall Zobel, HUFF, POOLE & MAHONEY, P.C., Virginia Beach, Virginia, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF: Dawn M. Peters, BREEDEN, MACMILLAN & GREEN, P.L.C., Norfolk, Virginia, for Appellants.

Before WIDENER and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and PHILLIPS, Senior Circuit Judge.

OPINION

PER CURIAM:

Glenn Davis ("Davis"), a one-time professional baseball player, brought this personal injury diversity action against Six Sixteen, Incorporated ("Six Sixteen") and Samuel Charles Hampton ("Hampton") to recover compensatory and punitive damages for injuries sustained when Hampton, a bouncer at a nightclub owned by Six Sixteen, punched Davis in the face three times, breaking his jaw in two places. A jury returned a verdict in favor of Davis against both defendants, awarding Davis substantial compensatory and punitive damages.

Six Sixteen and Hampton (hereafter collectively, for simplicity, "Hampton") now appeal, contending that certain expert testimony was improperly admitted; that the district judge erred in refusing to give two of their requested jury instructions; and that the judge improperly questioned an expert witness. We find no prejudicial error and affirm.

I.

At the time in issue Davis was a professional baseball player in the Baltimore Orioles chain on assignment to the Rochester Redwings, a minor league affiliate of the Orioles. On June 7, 1993, Davis and two of his teammates, Mark Parent and Randy Ready, went to Club Rogues, a Virginia Beach nightclub owned by Six Sixteen.

The parties' testimonial accounts of what then transpired at the Club Rogues differ markedly. Indisputably, the trouble that led to Davis's injury all began when Hampton and fellow bouncers were summoned to deal with some roistering conduct by the ballplayers outside the club just after they had left the building. Critically, defendants do not contest the sufficiency of the evidence of what then happened--when assessed under the appropriate standard--to support the jury's verdict. We therefore simply summarize the flatly conflicting testimonial versions of what happened.

Davis's version was that Hampton attacked him while he, Davis, was simply trying to break up an escalating exchange between Ready and several other Club Rogues bouncers; that he had no intention of fighting Hampton or any of the bouncers; and that he never made any threatening moves or gestures toward Hampton. By his account, with some supporting testimony by other eye-witnesses, Hampton initiated the physical encounter with Davis, grabbing him as he attempted to break up the altercation involving Ready. Critically, Davis's account had it that as they struggled, Hampton lured him into thinking the encounter was over by suddenly loosening his hold and looking away as if to abandon the fray, only to then fell Davis with a "sucker punch" to the jaw when Davis, with his guard down, looked away to see how Ready was faring. With Davis on the ground from the force of the sucker punch, Hampton then punched him in the face two more times. It is undisputed that the blows struck by Hampton broke Davis's jaw in two places, requiring it to be wired shut for four weeks. The evidence showed that Hampton was a professional heavyweight boxer along with his other occupations as a bouncer and construction worker.

Hampton's version was that Davis's involvement in the affray was not as a...

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