Tom DeBlass and Rener Gracie will now be engaging in a live discussion or debate that’s going to be centred around the recent $46 million BJJ injury lawsuit that Gracie gave expert witness testimony in. The discussion will be happening on Friday 14th April, 2023 and it will start at 4pm EST and it will be free for anyone to listen in to on Instagram live. This all started when a student was paralyzed in a BJJ class in 2018 while rolling with the instructor, and the resulting lawsuit ended up with him being awarded a staggering $46 million.
Naturally that verdict made waves in the Jiu-Jitsu community and people were weighing in on all sides without really knowing all of the facts of the case. There was a lot of speculation around at that time, and one of very few things that people did know is that Rener testified as an expert witness on behalf of the plaintiff. Then just a few days later the actual footage of the incident emerged and was shared by numerous sources, including DeBlass himself.
That footage changed the public narrative significantly, as many people who were critical of the instructor’s actions now had greater context and some defended him instead. This led to a lot of criticism directed at Rener Gracie for his expert witness testimony, although it’s worth noting that Tom DeBlass has never been part of that when he has engaged in discussion about the case publicly. Rener then decided to make a lengthy video explaining his testimony in detail, including providing slowed down and colourized footage of the incident in order to better explain his position.
That wasn’t all though, as many were also criticizing the fee that Rener got paid as an expert witness. He was paid around $100,000 for his involvement in the case and he decided to answer these criticisms too, donating the full amount to Spinal Cord Injury Network International. The situation is far from over, as now Tom DeBlass and Rener Gracie have managed to get together and arrange a live discussion on the case for the benefit of the wider community. It’s an interesting prospect and it seems like it should help many members of the BJJ community figure out where they line up on such a divisive topic, because open discussion is always helpful.
The news that Tom DeBlass and Rener Gracie were going to engage in a live discussion about the recent $46 million BJJ injury lawsuit was announced in posts to each of their official Instagram accounts: