ST. LOUIS – A federal jury awarded a flight attendant $3,000 after finding that St. Louis Rams defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson pushed him during a 2005 flight. The flight attendant, Gary Rihn, had asked for $1 million and his wife sought $200,000 for loss of consortium.
The jury found that Jackson pushed Rihn during a flight from Memphis to St. Louis that was not related to football. Rihn had asked for $250,000 in actual damages and $750,000 in punitive damages. The jury awarded $3,000 and no punitive damages. Rihn claimed that Jackson, now retired, had pushed him across the aisle and into another passenger in a squabble over the proper stowing of a computer bag.
Jackson said he reacted after Rihn poked him and pestered him about being in first class. He testified that he had no interest in hurting Rihn and refused to apologize when Rihn’s attorney pressed him during the punitive stage of the trial, saying only that he was sorry Rihn had poked him.
Former NFL player Grant Wistrom, a former teammate of Jackson’s, testified as a character witness.
“We’re very disappointed,” Douglas Dowd, Rihn’s attorney, told the Post-Dispatch. “We felt that the jury certainly came to the right conclusion that Mr. Jackson had battered this flight attendant. But we were shocked and very disappointed given the evidence of this man’s psychological injuries that the jury returned such a meager amount of money.”