The elbow throwing violence by World Peace on April 24, 2012 during a NBA game resulted in a direct hit to the temple of NBA star James Harden. It could have killed Harden. Harden instantly fell to the floor on the basketball court in a pile like dirty laundry. It was not the first time the NBA had a problem with World Peace. He has a long history of dirty tactics and a bad temper
. World Peace claimed it was an accident and happened because he was over-celebrating a dunk. Footage of the event shows he was lying. The NBA gave him a seven game suspension.
Other major league sports also have problems with intentional misconduct on the field. In the NFL a football coach of the New Orleans Saints actually set up a bounty system to pay for purposely injuring opposing team members, and then lied about it. He was suspended from coaching for a year. The NHL has “enforcers” who slug other teams, sometimes causing severe life threatening injuries. Obviously, Boxing is based 100% on intentional conduct, throwing a punch at the head of the opponent. Many other sports are played as close to intentional misconduct as possible and frequently cross the line, becoming “dirty sports.”
So why am I writing about dirty conduct? It gives me a great chance to explain the practical consequences between two legal wrongs: one is called Negligence and the other is called Assault and Battery. A & B is also a crime. Negligence is not a crime. Insurance will cover damages caused by simple negligence. Insurance does not pay for injuries when the wrongful act was intentional. Driving a car through a red light may either be negligent, or intentional, depending on whether the driver was aware he was running a light or simply careless.
The victim has the option to sue. His lawyer will claim that the misconduct was intentional or negligent. The jury decides which one it is. If the Verdict finds the misconduct was intentional then the Victim can go after the personal assets of the wrongdoer. If negligent, the victim goes after the insurance policy of the wrongdoer.
Both types of misconduct can and do cause serious injuries. If one was to measure the spectrum of human conduct causing injury to another, it would go from completely innocent, child-like behavior at one end, to simple negligence, then to aggravated or “gross negligence,” also called recklessness, to willful and wanton misconduct, to intentional misconduct.
The NBA Commissioner called his action “reckless.” I disagree and think most people who watch the TV clip on youtube will also disagree. His claim that it was “reckless” probably has no significant legal consequence however, because it is his “opinion” after looking at the clip. His opinion on fact issue like this is not entitled to any more lofty deference just because he is the Commish. Any man on the street looking at the facts can come to his own opinion.
James Harden has the legal right to sue World Peace for the injury. He obviously has no worry about collection because World Peace has plenty of assets. Harden will therefore not have to worry about collecting and can sue World Peace for intentional misconduct. If he does, it will probably get settled out of court.