Oklahoma Sooner running back awarded change of venue in civil lawsuit

By Kerry Goff | Nov 7, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oklahoma Sooner’s running back Joe Mixon filed motions Sept. 6 to transfer venue and dismiss Amelia Molitor’s civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The motion was granted Oct. 13 by a federal court in San Francisco, which said the lawsuit should be moved to a federal court in Oklahoma City. 

In a Tulsa World article, it was explained that Molitor initially filed her suit on July 22, seeking damages in excess of $75,000 for negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages stemming from Mixon’s criminal case.

“(The civil lawsuit claims that) Mixon forcefully struck Molitor in her face with a closed fist, causing her to sustain fractured bones in her face and other serious and lasting physical injuries after a July 25, 2014, argument at Picklemen’s Gourmet Café in Norman,” the Tulsa World article said.

Molitor filed the suit in California because Mixon’s permanent address is there and her attorneys claimed that she could not get a fair trial in Oklahoma because of the football program’s fan base. Mixon’s attorney, Mark Grossman, argued otherwise, explaining that there would be no problem finding an impartial jury.

“There are plenty of cases that generate a lot of publicity where you’re still able to find jurors who don’t have an interest in the lawsuit and can be fair and impartial,” Grossman told NewsChannel 4.

Mixon originally received a one-year sentencing deferral after entering an Alford Plea on the charge of acts resulting in gross injury and outraging public decency, so a civil suit seemed like a natural next step to Molitor, who claims there is more to the case than a punch in the face.

“The lawsuit states Molitor has suffered substantial physical injuries, emotional distress and other damages, including but not limited to past, present and future medical expenses,” the article said.

The contention rests with the fact that Mixon and Molitor are residents of different states, which means a diversity of citizenship allows state law to be applied in a federal case. 

“Molitor indicates in her complaint that she brings her negligence action under Oklahoma law, and nothing otherwise stated in the complaint suggests that any other state’s law should apply,” Mixon’s motion said. “Nevertheless, in determining what state’s law to apply to particular claims, a federal court sitting in a diversity action in California must apply California’s choice-of-law rules.”

Furthermore, Mixon’s motion to dismiss the claims centers on the Oklahoma statute of limitations. 

“Oklahoma law provides a two-year statute of limitations for ‘an action for injury to the rights of another, not arising in contract, and not hereinafter enumerated,’” the motion said. “In the following subsection, the statute provides a one-year limitation for assault and battery…This specific limitation of battery governs Molitor’s claims.”

In a July 18 interview with Deadspin, Molitar explained that she had to delete her Twitter and Facebook accounts when images of a previous arrest were circulating around the Internet. She also claimed that when she returned to campus, she heard people snickering at her. The Deadspin article also explained her physical and emotional recovery after the events.

“She needed an eight-hour surgery that left her looking like Cyclops for a few weeks,” the article said. “She lost feeling on the left side of her face for six months and was on a liquid diet. But all that was manageable, she said, compared to the emotional pain.”

Molitar is not confident that she can get a fair trial in Oklahoma, and explained how many at the college blame her for the initial incident that caused so much of the current unrest.

“Sitting here, dealing with an extremely traumatic injury, having my name dragged through the mud,” Molitor said in the article. “The physical part was manageable for me. All the rest seemed unbearable. Almost immediately, I was made to feel like it was my fault. When you’re at such a vulnerable point, you tend to believe it.”

After the San Francisco court’s decision to accept Mixon’s motion to move the trial to Oklahoma, his attorneys released a statement offering their relief in the decision.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to return this case to Oklahoma,” Blake Johnson of Crowe & Dunlevy said in a statement. “The court recognized that the plaintiff’s choice to file this lawsuit over 1,500 miles away in San Francisco was needlessly costly and inefficient.”

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