The future of a lawsuit accusing Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant of assaulting a teenager during a casual basketball game depends on whether Morant will be allowed to say he acted in self-defense and whether he can receive immunity under Tennessee law.
A judge ruled Wednesday that Morant’s lawyers can continue for now with their argument that Morant acted in self-defense when he punched Joshua Holloway during a game at the All-Star’s Memphis-area home in July 2022.
Morant’s lawyers have acknowledged that he hit Holloway once after Holloway threw a basketball at Morant and the ball hit Morant on the chin. In a July 26 motion, the player’s lawyers said he should be immune from liability under the state’s “stand your ground” law, which allows people who feel threatened in their homes to act with force in certain situations.
Circuit Court Judge Carol Chumney said the next step would be to hear from attorneys in the case, including those representing the Tennessee Attorney General, about whether the law can be applied to the case under the state Constitution.
Morant’s accuser was 17 when the lawsuit was filed. He accuses Morant and his friend Davonte Pack of assault, reckless endangerment, abuse or neglect, and infliction of emotional distress. An amended complaint identified the plaintiff as Holloway, who is now 18 years old.
morant filed a counterclaim accusing Holloway of libel, assault and battery.
No criminal charges have been filed against Morant.
The lawsuit has given rise to complicated legal arguments, including disagreement over whether the state’s “stand your ground” law can be used to support Morant.
At a hearing Monday, Holloway’s attorney, Rebecca Adelman, argued that Morant has waived his immunity claim and that the claim of self-defense under state law cannot be a reason to dismiss the civil case, in part because he did not there is an ongoing criminal investigation against Morant. .
Adelman said the self-defense and immunity arguments came too late in the process. She called it a “Hail Mary of Hail Marys.”
Will Perry, Morant’s attorney, argued that there are ways to apply the “stand your ground” law in civil cases and that Morant is entitled to immunity. He said the motion was timely because the trial is not scheduled until 2024.
Outside court on Wednesday, Adelman told reporters she was disappointed by the judge’s decision to allow the immunity claim to proceed, but was pleased the court allowed arguments on the constitutional challenge of the law’s application in the case.
“These are … very important issues for everyone,” Adelman said.
Chumney, the judge, issued a stay in the case, meaning depositions, subpoenas, discovery sharing and other steps in the lawsuit are on hold. She set a hearing for October 12 on the matter.
The NBA suspended Morant for 25 games when next season begins after a second video of him displaying a gun was posted online. Video of Morant displaying a gun while he was sitting in the passenger seat of a car was released after he finished serving a eight game suspension in March over a video in which he displayed a gun at a Denver-area strip club.
Morant apologized for both videos.
On Monday, a year after the impromptu game at Morant’s home in Eads, authorities issued an arrest warrant on a misdemeanor assault charge against Pack in connection with the fight.
Associated Press report.
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