Former Atlanta Falcons cheerleader, Shayla Stevens, was awarded $6.4 million in damages after being attacked by rapper Da Brat with a rum bottle in 2007.
Even though Da Brat has already served three years in prison for the attack, Stevens brought a civil lawsuit against the rapper for her injuries, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Stevens was awarded $3.7 million in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages, but is that amount excessive?
Compensatory and Punitive Damages Awards
Stevens' lawsuit against Da Brat stems from the 2007 assault that occurred on Halloween at Studio 27, a club owned by Atlanta hip-hop star Jermaine Dupri, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Da Brat attacked Stevens with a rum bottle and as a result of the attack, Stevens suffered permanent brain injuries and scarring on her face.
In the outcome of her lawsuit, the jury awarded Stevens both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages attempt to make victims whole by providing the amount of money they've lost due to their injuries. To recover, the plaintiff must provide proof of the damages and it usually covers medical expenses, lost wages, and future medical treatment.
Punitive damages are different -- they are meant to punish the attacker and deter him or her from repeating his or her actions. In Georgia, punitive damages are awarded when there's clear and convincing evidence that the defendant's actions showed willful misconduct or conscious indifference to the consequences of his or her actions.
Is $6.4 Million in Damages Fair?
Although $6.4 million in damages is a huge award, a personal injury attorney in Atlanta would likely argue that the amount is fair. Da Brat has served her time in prison, but Stevens is still left with life-long brain injuries and permanent scarring to her face.
Since Stevens used to be a professional cheerleader, these injuries may have prevented her from receiving appearance offers or other deals, which may limit her income. Further, treatment and future medical expenses related to her brain injury are likely very expensive, so $3.7 million in compensatory damages over her lifetime seems reasonable.
As for the millions in punitive damages, it could serve to prevent Da Brat from future violence. In addition to the bottle attack, the rapper has a rap sheet that includes a prior pistol-whipping incident, E! reported.
If she's unhappy with the jury award, Da Brat can appeal the damages.
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