By Bryanna Fissori
The saying “Protect the money-maker,” is a common one in combat sports, but is typically used in reference to head gear or a mouth guard put in place to shield a pretty face from harm. In a recent decision a Vancouver jury awarded a former Canadian Boxing Champion over $1 million for an injury to his real “money-maker.”
In 2008 Jegbefumere ‘Bone’ Albert sustained injury to his right hand in car collision. At that point in his career he was competing as a cruiserweight and had a professional record of 4-0. After the injury Albert continued to compete in three more professional bouts over the next year, all of which he won. Despite his victories the injury continued to affect training and competing, causing swelling and pain in the hand. Albert is now 32 years old with a professional record of 7-0 and an amateur record of 151-3, but due to his injury he can no longer compete.
The trial regarding the issue of compensation for personal injury lasted five days. The ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) claim called for jurors to take into consideration the value of that hand to Albert’s promising boxing career.
“Canadian and American law is very similar,” stated Albert’s Attorney John Cameron, in an interview with BoxingInsider.com. “The big difference is that you cannot get as much for pain and suffering in Canada. We have a limit of $300,000, so even if you are in a car crash and it totally burns up your whole body you still only get $300,000. The reason for this is fear of the American run-away-jury.”
A runaway jury is loosely defined as a jury that takes action independent of the instruction of the court and is a term commonly used when a jury decides to award an excessive amount in damages.
Unlike the United States, in Canada jurors are forbidden from speaking about deliberations.
“It is supposed to be like a priest in confessions,” said Cameron. “The juror can even face penalty of incarceration.”
The Vancouver jury awarded the following:
Non-Pecuniary Damages: $125,000
Past Diminished Earning Capacity: $60,000
Future Diminished Earning Capacity: $868,000
The original offer from ICBC was $50,000 total, but for a career ending injury Albert was not read to settle for that. Cameron conveyed that the stance of ICBC was that everyone thinks they are going to be the next champion. Cameron carried the burden of proving to the jury that Albert really was.
Albert who is originally from Nigeria, has represented Nigeria at both the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, where he won the gold medal in the light heavyweight division in 2002. He was also the 2004 Canadian Senior Men’s National light heavyweight champion.
Cameron called in numerous boxing industry professionals to the witness stand including former Canada Boxing President John O’Shea. O’Shea was also a long time coach and referee.
“O’Shea said one of the best fighters he had ever seen was my client,” said Cameron. “He said my client was the closest thing he had seen to Muhammad Ali.”
Cameron, who admittedly did not know a whole lot about the boxing industry before accepting Albert as a client, has learned a lot a long the way and believes in the talent of Albert. “He had been boxing since the age of seven,” said Cameron. “His dad forced him to box. His family members boxed. He was a champion. Why would a person at that level quit if they weren’t really injured? It was a great vindication for him.”