Rockfeller Sorel, the parking valet who was slapped by LeBron James’ mother filed a lawsuit seeking damages for negligence and assault and battery.
Sorel is claiming he suffered emotional distress, humiliation, mental anguish, medical expenses, the loss of the ability to earn money, and the loss of capacity for enjoyment of life.
As reported by the Sun Sentinel, Sorel hasn’t returned to his job as a parking valet at the Fontainebleau and per his attorney, “his future is unclear there.”
Lawyers for Gloria James responded with a statement.
“On behalf of Ms. Gloria James, we do not comment on pending legal matters,” said attorneys Christopher G. Lyons and Sandy Becher. “Therefore, we will not have any comment regarding the civil lawsuit, which was filed yesterday.”
While Sorel claims he was assaulted, the blurred black-and-white video doesn’t quite portray Sorel as a passive victim.
The confrontation unfolded April 7th, shortly before 5 a.m. When police arrived, they found Gloria James and several witnesses who, they said, confirmed that the slap happened.
Sorel told police that he waited with the SUV for 30 minutes while James chatted with friends. He gave the key to the cashier and James reportedly began yelling profanities. In the initial police report and in an interview with Sorel, there was no mention of racial profanities.
James and her unidentified companion told police she and the valet had a “minor verbal altercation” and then they “got up on each other’s faces.”
Police arrested Gloria James on charges of battery and public intoxication. She was released to Miami Heat executive Steve Stowe with a promise to appear.
The lawsuit claims damages in excess of $15,000.00. The minimum jurisdictional limit for claims in circuit court is $15,000.00, and thus most personal injury lawsuits will claim damages in excess of $15,000.00.
This is a difficult case, both from a liability and damages standpoint. First Mr. Sorel is claiming negligence on the part of Gloria James. Florida Personal Injury Law requires that in order to prove that Ms. James was negligent, Mr. Sorel must show that Gloria James acts were not intentional. While it may be unclear as to who started the altercation, it is very clear that Gloria James slapped Rockfeller Sorel, and that slap appeared intentional-not accidental. The benefit to pleading a claim for negligence is that homeowners insurance policies may provide insurance coverage for the claim. Alternatively, intentional acts such as assault and battery are specifically excluded from coverage.
Assault and Battery is defined as: Any unlawful touching of another which is without justification or excuse. Battery requires physical contact of some sort, whereas assault is committed without physical contact.
Even if Mr. Sorel proves that the unlawful touching was without justification or excuse, he must prove that he suffered damages therefrom. The damages Mr. Sorel is claiming, emotional distress, humiliation, mental anguish, medical expenses, the loss of the ability to earn money, and the loss of capacity for enjoyment of life will be difficult to prove in light of the video.
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.