Even though a security camera captured the incident, Brian Butcher still had a difficult task in representing a plaintiff who sought civil damages against an ex-NFL player who allegedly sucker punched him in a Target parking lot.
For starters, there were allegations of racist slurs exchanged between the men. And there seemed to be no other reason for a confrontation between 61-year-old David Redelsperger, a retired pharmacist, and 43-year-old Darrien Gordon, who played 10 seasons as a National Football League cornerback.
Yet Butcher recently convinced a Tarrant County jury that Gordon assaulted his client, awarding Redelsperger $725,000 for physical pain and mental anguish. That Sept. 13 verdict was $225,000 more than Butcher had originally asked from the jury.
“I asked for $500,000 and they thought that wasn’t enough,” said Butcher, an attorney with Hurst’s Noteboom—The Law Firm.
Redelsperger sued Gordon for civil assault in 2015, alleging in his petition that as he walked passed Gordon while attempting to enter a Target store in North Richland Hills, Gordon called out to him and made racist threatening remarks.
Redelsperger alleged that he kept walking toward the store’s entrance when Gordon approached him from behind, sucker punched Redelsperger in the eye and knocked him to the ground. Gordon denied Redelsperger’s allegations in an answer to the lawsuit.
“The defense was that they felt that the plaintiff instigated this and approached in an aggressive manner and that he also made a racial slur as he was walking away. But I don’t think the jury believed that for a second,” Butcher said, noting that Redelsperger is white and Gordon is African-American.
“The difficult part of the case from my perspective was because there were allegations of racial slurs on both sides,” Butcher said. The foreman of the jury was African-American, he also noted. “But I believed, and argued to the jury, that it wasn’t a case about race but rather a case about bullying.”
“I think the assault was especially cowardly, because of the disparity in the party’s ages and their physical strength,” Butcher said.
Butcher said while a video showed clearly that Gordon stopped in his client’s path and instigated the altercation, it didn’t explain why the attack happened.
“That was the real confusing part of the case. It was real difficult to understand why this happened, but both parties agree there was no prior instigating incident,” Butcher said. “It wasn’t over a parking space or anything else. It seemed to be clearly an act of random violence which I think the jury found to be highly offensive.”
Brandon W. Weaver, a Euless attorney who represented Gordon at trial, did not return a call for comment.
But Butcher also believes the defense underestimated the possibility that the jury would award his client damages for nonphysical injuries.
“I think they were focused on the fact that it appeared to be just a black eye with $1,000 in medical expenses. But they ignored the long-term effects that victims of violent crime typical experience,” Butcher said. “It changed him as a person. It affected his personal life and the lives of his family members. And it caused him to have a lost sense of security and made him more reclusive.”