In July, nearly seven years after former minor league catcher Johnathan Nathans' career was ended during a vicious and senseless onfield attack by former major leaguer Jose Offerman, a Connecticut jury awarded him $940,000 in damages after finding Offerman culpable for his actions.
Now comes word that Offerman's camp has officially filed an appeal of the federal court's ruling.
A jury last month awarded the money to former Bridgeport Bluefish catcher Johnathan Nathans, who says he suffered career-ending injuries when Offerman hit him in the head with a bat. Photos show a bat-wielding Offerman charging the mound after being hit by a pitch. But he denies swinging it at anybody.
Offerman's lawyers argue in court papers filed Tuesday that the jury improperly found his client liable for assault because he charged the mound, after determining he was not guilty of battery on the catcher.
Nathan's lawyers also are appealing, seeking damages from the Long Island Ducks, for whom Offerman was playing.
The attack happened during an independent baseball game between Nathans' Bridgeport Bluefish and Offerman's Long Island Ducks. During his second-inning plate appearance, Offerman was hit in the leg by an off-speed pitch by Bluefish pitcher Matt Beech, which he took as retaliation for his first-inning home run. At that point Offerman went crazy and charged the mound and started swinging his bat wildly.
Beech ended up suffering a broken finger during the incident. Nathans, who was attempting to protect his pitcher, ended up being struck in the head and was later diagnosed with a concussion that would effectively end his career and unfortunately change his life.
Nathans says he still deals with post-concussion symptoms. He's also been advised by doctors that he'll need to continue physical, vestibular and vision therapy, perhaps for the rest of his life. That's why he was aiming for nearly $5 million in damages originally. In July, he also expressed concern with Offerman trying to avoid paying the damages as ordered by the jury all together, which have been founded in the appeal.
"(People say) it kind of brings the story to a close, but really it does and it doesn't," Nathans said Wednesday in a phone interview. "Because now, the second chapter of this story is that Jose Offerman has denied responsibility for seven years and has sort of been avoiding this every possible way he could, and now the jury has spoken and awarded us the damages that they have.
"Is he going to step up and take responsibility and pay those damages, or is he, again, going to go on the run? Is he going to avoid them again? Is he going to avoid taking responsibility again? Because that's sort of been his tendency in the past."
Last fall, it was reported that Offerman was nowhere to be found as the case loomed, which fed into Nathans' concerns.
Offerman originally faced felony assault charges in addition to the civil suit, but the most serious charges were dismissed after Offerman completed a rehabilitation program. In 2010, while serving as the manager for Licey of the Dominican Republic League, Offerman was involved in another on-field incident where he punched an umpire.
Offerman's history is not good, but it's possible he'll still avoid paying for his actions.
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