Multi million dollar settlement spark flood of litigation ?

By Andrew E. K. Maina

Russian boxer Magomed Abdusalamov is set to receive $22 million from the State of New York, as a settlement for a lawsuit for brain damage that the boxer suffered in the ring on November 2, 2013. The court decision was announced on September 9 this year.

According to ESPN, the boxer suffered the injuries, in a loss to Mike Perez, which caused him to suffer multiple strokes, put him in a coma for weeks, hospitalized for over than 10 months, including inpatient rehabilitation, left him paralyzed on his right side and rendered him unable to walk.

The suit, filed against the New York State Athletic Commission, staff and doctors on duty at the fight alleged recklessness, gross negligence and medical malpractice. ESPN  stated that this is the largest settlement paid out for a boxing related injury.

With more and more research indicating a direct correlation between boxing (and other combat sports such as MMA) and brain injuries, there is a likelihood that the Abdusalamov case could open a floodgate of litigations against promoters and organizers of boxing matches where fighters suffer serious head injuries.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 90% of boxers suffer some kind form brain injury while competing or training. These injuries make boxers susceptible to mental deterioration during their later years, which may lead to Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.

Even as the implications of the Abdusalamov ruling resound throughout the boxing world, there is already an ongoing$50 million suit against Richard Ashby (a ringside physician), by the family of Prichard Colon, due to a boxing match in 2015, that left the boxer in a coma.

Whether the ruling will cause more current and former boxers to pursue justice for perceived excess injury or perhaps make referees and court side physicians more conservatives on the extent that boxers are allowed to hit each other remains to be seen.

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