In 2014, University of Oklahoma senior Amelia Molitor was struck in the face by football star Joe Mixon in a campus cafe. Molitor, 22, filed suit for negligence this summer in the Northern District of California. (She was able to do so because Mixon is from California.) Mixon seeks to move the lawsuit to federal court in Oklahoma.
Mixon punched Molitor in the face during an altercation, causing her to suffer fractured bones and necessitating her jaw to be wired shut. Mixon claims he acted in self-defense. He was suspended from the football team for a season following the altercation and charged criminally with misdemeanor assault. Pursuant to a plea deal, Mixon was placed on probation for one year and required to undergo counseling and complete 100 hours of community service. Mixon took an Alford plea, which means he could accept the deal while maintaining his innocence. He presumably took the Alford plea so that a guilty plea wouldn’t be used against him in the subsequent civil lawsuit.
Judge James Donato will hold a hearing on the motion to change venue and the motion to dismiss this week in San Francisco.
Molitor’s attorney Ben Baker argued in his pleadings that Molitor wants fair proceedings. Baker doesn’t believe Moliter can get an unbiased jury in Oklahoma due to the immense popularity of Oklahoma’s football program and Mixon’s role as a star player.
As evidence, Baker pointed to harassment Molitor has faced since the assault. He filed two Facebook messages as evidence. In the first message, a Oklahoma football fan wrote: “The whole thing was started by you. Leave Joe and his money (future) alone. Go away. OU doesn’t need people like you.” The other message said: “Watch your 6,” which she interpreted as a threat.
In a September affidavit, Molitor wrote that she received death threats for a significant period following the July 2014 attack. She had to delete her Twitter and Facebook accounts, and she quit her job on campus to avoid harassment. Molitor plans to relocate to Colorado for graduate school after finishing college in December.
Mixon’s attorneys argued to Judge Donato that the case should be moved to Oklahoma because most if not all of the witnesses live in Oklahoma, therefore rendering it significantly more convenient. Moreover, Mixon’s attorneys argued that cases move more quickly in Oklahoma federal court than they do in California. They next argued that Molitor did not offer sufficient support of jury bias. The attorneys argued that Oklahoma is home to a rival football team with similarly devoted fans, who could also appear on the jury. Moreover, the Oklahoma media was, according to Mixon’s attorneys, “sympathetic to Molitor and critical of Mixon,” which they claimed undermined her claim that she could not get an impartial jury in Oklahoma. Finally, Mixon’s attorneys claimed that it’s more sensible for Oklahoma law rather than California law to apply, given that the incident did not take place in California.
Molitor also filed a lawsuit against the cafe where the incident occurred, contending that the restaurant owed Molitor, 22, adequate precautions against criminal activity. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $75,000, plus punitive damages and attorney fees. The case against the cafe was filed in federal court in Oklahoma.
The personal injury lawyers at the Neumann Law Group represent victims of accidents throughout the Los Angeles area. Call us at (213) 227-0001 for a free consultation.
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