A brand new Jiu-Jitsu student was unfortunately left paralyzed as a result of an injury suffered during class, and has now won over $46 million in a judgement after a four-week trial. According to an initial report by Businesswire, the incident happened back on November 29th, 2018 at Del Mar Jiu-Jitsu Club (DMJJC) in Del Mar, California. The 23 year-old plaintiff, Mr Jack Greener, was allegedly a beginner student who attended a class at the club on that fateful day. The club in question was operated by the defendant Michael Phelps and the class was taken by the club’s instructor.
The class that he conducted that day consisted of a 10 minute warmup and a 20 minute technical instruction, followed by sparring. According to the report, Greener had a sparring session with another student that ended without incident before he then had another sparring round with the instructor. That’s when the following happened according to the report:
“While practicing with (the instructor), Mr. Greener was placed in the turtle position — a position where a person is balled up on all fours with his face down on the mat. If an opponent is in a turtle position, the goal should be to safely put that person on their side known as “taking the back.” Instead, while positioned on top of Mr. Greener, (the instructor) crouched on the balls of feet, pinned Mr. Greener to the mat, immobilized Mr. Greener’s left arm, and then launched himself up and over his opponent placing his entire bodyweight on Mr. Greener’s neck. The extreme force of the manoeuvre crushed Mr. Greener’s cervical vertebrae causing the student to fall limp, paralyzed in all extremities.”
That resulted in Greener suffering a severe spinal injury that left him hospitalized for months, where he was placed on a ventilator and underwent several surgeries. He underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion of C5 corpectomy, titanium cage, and posterior spinal fusion from C4-C6. He also suffered multiple strokes that resulted in him requiring a left vertebral artery stent.
That is when attorneys filed suit on his behalf, claiming that the defendants ‘unreasonably increased the risk inherent in the activity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by failing to adhere to the requisite standard of care’. They sought compensation for Greener’s past and future medical expenses, loss of earnings, physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress.
The San Diego County jury took just two days to return their verdict in favour of Greener. He was awarded $637,959 for loss of past and future earnings, $1,337,153.23 for past medical expenses agreed to by the parties prior to trial, $8,500,000 for future medical expenses, $11,000,000 for past pain and suffering, and $25,000,000 for future pain and suffering. The total amount that the beginner student Jack Greener was awarded as a result of being paralyzed in the Jiu-Jitsu class was $46,475,112.33.