DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — A suburban Atlanta jury awarded $40,000 Friday to a man who says musician Kid Rock and his entourage beat him and smashed his cell phones during a 2007 fight at a Waffle House restaurant.
Harlen Akins sued Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, and five members of his entourage over the fight. DeKalb County State Court Judge Johnny Panos on Thursday dismissed two of the defendants.
Akins sought $6,000 in medical fees and an unspecified amount in punitive damages. The jury decided not to award punitive damages, but gave him $40,000 in compensatory damages.
The jury saw a lot of provocation from both sides and couldn’t attribute blame completely to either, said the foreman, who declined to give his name.
He said $6,000 was granted for medical expenses, $700 for the market value of the two cell phones, and the rest for pain and suffering.
The damages will be divided among the four remaining defendants based on how much responsibility each was assigned. Kid Rock will pay 15 percent; his personal assistant James Murphy will pay 10 percent; his executive assistant Brian Lang will pay 5 percent; and his guitarist Jason Krause will pay 70 percent.
Krause was assessed more because he threw the first punch, the foreman said.
Akins was in court Friday, flanked by his lawyers, but the defendants were not there. The parties have 30 days to appeal.
Akins’ lawyer Eric Hertz reiterated after the verdict that it wasn’t about money.
“We feel vindicated and we are very satisfied,” he said.
William Horton, a lawyer for Kid Rock and his entourage, said many times during the trial that Akins was just trying to cash in because Kid Rock is rich and famous, and he repeated that Friday.
“As far as we were concerned it was just about money,” he said.
The musician and his friends had sought to settle the matter without a trial, but the plaintiff demanded $2.9 million, Horton said.
Hertz said his firm had never demanded that, but it was possible the firm that handled the case before them did.
During five hours of deliberations, the jury asked to see a surveillance video of the fight again and asked the judge several questions.
The musician pleaded guilty in March 2008 to a misdemeanor charge of simple battery stemming from the melee.
The fight began shortly after 5 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2007, after Akins exchanged words with a woman in Kid Rock’s party whom he had known for years.