BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Alabama Supreme Court reversed a lower court's grant of summary judgment in an assault case involving the daughter of the University of Alabama's head football coach.
Sarah Grimes sued Kristen Saban in Tuscaloosa County circuit court over a physical altercation following a night of drinking in Tuscaloosa. Grimes says they were in Saban's apartment when she offended Saban by telling her to "shut up" and that everyone was tired of listening to her.
Grimes claims Saban locked herself in her bedroom and posted a message of Facebook that stated, "No one likes Sarah, Yayyyyy!" Grimes started banging on the bedroom door with her hand, shouting at Saban to remove the post, the complaint says.
Grimes claims Saban then opened the door and a physical altercation between the women ensued.
Grimes was eventually taken to a hospital by others who were in the apartment at the time, and Saban allegedly went back to Facebook where she posted an account of the altercation.
Grimes sued Saban in July 2012, claiming that since the alleged assault, she had "repeated night terrors, anxiety, physical trembling, fears of dying from brain injuries, trouble sleeping and intrusive recollections of the event."
The circuit court granted summary judgment to Saban, but on review the state Supreme Court found there are still alleged facts about the fight that are disputed by each party.
According to Grimes, the opinion says, when Saban came out of her room, she pushed Grimes into a door frame and started punching her in the face "more than five times." Grimes testified that she was bleeding and there was blood all over the floor and "it had run down her face and into her bra." Grimes also testified that her injures were "extensive" and included a black eye and considerable swelling on her left temple.
Grimes claims she's suffered from migraines since the incident, and that the middle of her nose is deformed.
But Saban told an entirely different story, the opinion says.
Saban testified that Grimes grabbed her by the throat, that both girls had hold of each other's hair, and that any punches she might have flown were thrown merely in self-defense.
In granting summary judgment to Saban, the circuit court effectively took her side, holding that Grimes had initiated the confrontation, and that Saban's actions were reasonable given her belief she was about to be subjected to "unlawful physical force."
But Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tommy Bryan concluded that what actually transpired between the two young women is still unresolved.
In his opinion, Bryan said Grimes raised "genuine issues of material fact as to whether Saban reasonably believed the use of force was necessary to defend herself against Grimes."
In reversing the ruling and remanding the case, Bryan said his decision should not be understood as "expressing a view as to the merits of the underlying claims," but rather as showing that there are material facts that should be considered in the case.
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