Justin Balboa, the man caught on video getting knocked out by Joe Schilling, has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the fighter and the bar where the incident took place.
Schilling and Bro Management Las Olas LLC – the corporate entity behind B Square Burgers in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – are named as co-defendants, with the Bellator MMA vet being sued for battery and the bar for negligence. Balboa seeks damages in excess of $30,000 from each; his co-attorney Rich Conforti told MMA Fighting the total damages are well over $100,000.
“We’ve initiated the lawsuit, the defendants are in the process of being served,” Conforti said. “We believe Mr. Balboa has considerably high-damages claim for what has happened based on the actions of Mr. Schilling and the negligence of Bro Management.”
MMA Fighting was unable to reach Schilling for comment.
Via his attorneys, Balboa, 31, claims the veteran MMA fighter “viciously attacked, physically struck and assaulted” him during the June 27 incident at B Square, leaving him with “severe injuries,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed July 1 in Broward County (Fla.) circuit court.
Balboa describes Schilling as a professional fighter “uniquely skilled and trained to be brutally efficient and abnormally dangerous with his bare hands” and “has a history of being involved in street altercations ... including using physical force against third parties.” Schilling, the suit notes, shared footage of the knockout and admitted to striking him.
Balboa also claims B Square Burgers was located in a high crime rate area where assaults frequently happened and created unsafe conditions by failing to provide adequate security.
In the viral video, Balboa is shown at the B Square bar talking to patrons before bumping into Schilling, who moves him to the side and continues to walk. Balboa appears to say, “hey,” prompting Schilling to turn around. Then, Balboa appears to lunge slightly at Schilling, who responds with a combination of punches that knocks him out cold.
Bodycam footage obtained by MMA Fighting shows a bloodied man identified by police as Balboa – whose face is blurred out per privacy laws – telling responding officers he was at the bar having a good time when another man “cracked” him for no reason and “chased me down, bro” and “beat my ass.” Slurring his words, Balboa said he called the officers because he was being chased. Officers later tell him he’s going to need stitches for his lip.
“I just want to make sure I’ve got a report because I’m suing the f*ck out of [B Square],” Balboa said.
Asked whether he wanted to press charges, Balboa grunted “f*ck yeah” identified his assailant as “at least” 6-5, 270 pounds and white.
“I boxed for 13 years, man, I know how much people weigh,” he said.
In a police report, a B Square bar manager identified only as “Mike” told police that an “extremely intoxicated” Balboa had “possibly made an improper remark about the girlfriend/wife of the male who had struck him, which caused the fight to escalate.” He added Balboa was a regular “who routinely causes problems at the establishment due to his intoxication level.” Police said several patrons backed the manager’s story that Balboa started the “kerfuffle.”
In the bodycam footage, the bar manager said Balboa was a “typical drunk guy,” “harmless” and “probably on Molly” as he chatted up several couples around the bar. After asking Balboa to relax, the manager said he tried to calm down another man who told him “that guy’s not alright.” Later, the manager said the man closed out his tab, came back and had one more drink, and then punched Balboa as he walked out.
One day later, Balboa went to the police station and said he wanted to press charges against Schilling, whom he identified after the video went viral.
Showing the video to an officer in the bodycam footage, Balboa said, “It looks like I kind of [lunged], but the thing is, I leaned in to hear him, because the DJ is loud music. I didn’t have no intention of fighting the guy.”
“Yeah, he probably took that action like this as a feint,” the officer replies.
“The thing is, he is the one that posted this video,” Balboa said. “His table is the one that recorded it. It was premeditated.”
Balboa, who told police he works as a bus boy at Outback Steakhouse, said he “wasn’t myself” and had had a couple of beers before the incident, but wasn’t that intoxicated. He told the officer he suffered a concussion as the result of the knockout and had received stitches for his cut lip.
According to public court records, Balboa sued another bar in 2013 for over $15,000 after an alleged physical altercation. He claimed the bar was negligent for failing to stop an attack on Sept. 30, 2012, that allegedly left him with significant injuries from multiple assailants.
During the alleged encounter, Balboa claimed he was blindsided by a punch and then beaten and stomped “for minutes” by a group of at least five bar patrons “while he laid on the ground defenseless.” One patron held a knife to his throat during the beating, while another individual attempted to choke him. He was then dragged outside and beaten more until someone yelled the police were coming, and he hid behind a dumpster.
Balboa claimed the bar, the now-closed Andy’s Lounge, was well-known for fighting and other disturbances and did nothing to stop the fight. Attorneys for the bar argued Balboa was partially responsible for the attack, saying he was intoxicated and instigated the incident. In September 2014, 17 months after the complaint was filed, Balboa and Andy’s Lounge settled for an undisclosed sum. Balboa declined comment on the lawsuit when contacted by MMA Fighting.
A police spokesperson said Balboa will need to convince the state attorney’s office to prosecute Schilling for simple battery, a misdemeanor in Florida. On social media, Schilling wrote Balboa had uttered racist remarks before the incident and was “scared for his life” and defending himself when he punched back. In a recent interview, he said no charges had been filed against him and indicated his actions were validated by Balboa’s past.
“I did nothing wrong and I stand by that,” Schilling recently told Helen Yee (h/t MMAMania.com).