The litigation that began when Magomed Abdusalamov suffered life-altering brain damage during a November 2, 2013, fight at Madison Square Garden has come to an end.
In 2017, the State of New York, which was responsible for overseeing the fight, agreed to pay $22 million to Adbusalamov and his family after almost four years of litigation that alleged substandard New York State Athletic Commission medical protocols and claimed that even these protocols were poorly implemented. But the case against referee Benjy Esteves and three NYSAC ring doctors remained.
Jury selection on the remaining portion of the case was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, September 3, in New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. But the case was settled on Tuesday afternoon.
Esteves, who has limited financial resources, agreed to make a $1,000 donation to Ring 10, a charity that provides financial assistance to former boxers in need.
That left the three doctors.
Osric King was the doctor assigned to Adbusalamov's corner during the fight. On at least two occasions, Dr. King stood on the ring apron near Abdusalamov’s corner and looked on between rounds. But he was standing outside the ropes to Magomed’s left, and the fighter’s head was turned to the right so he could hear one of his cornermen translate trainer John David Jackson’s instructions into Russian. Thus, Dr. King could see little more than the back of the fighter’s head. There is no indication that he tried to communicate verbally with the fighter during the fight. The complaint alleged that Dr. King "failed to protect Abdusalamov from unreasonably excessive and extraordinary pummeling and life threatening and debilitating injury at the hands of his opponent."
Dr Anthony Curreri and Dr. Gerard Varlotta were in Abdusalamov's dressing room after the fight. The complaint alleged that they "failed to arrange for appropriate and timely medical intervention."
The case against Dr. Varlotta was the weakest of the three. Indeed, at one point in the proceedings, the complaint against him was dismissed by the court but was reinstated after a motion for reargument was granted.
A source with knowledge of the proceedings says that the insurance companies representing Dr. King and Dr. Curreri paid the full limit of their respective insurance policies to settle the case. The insurance company representing Dr. Varlotta paid a percentage of Dr. Varlotta's policy limit.
The total paid in settlement by the three insurance companies comes to slightly more than $5.5 million. That's on top of the $22 million that was previously paid by the State of New York.
Attorney Paul Edelstein, who represented the Abdusalamov family in the litigation, confirmed that the case had been settled but declined to state the dollar amount. However, Edelsein did tell BoxingScene.com, "Clearly, there have not been enough reforms put in place in New York to keep this from happening again. And there are states that lag behind New York when it comes to fighter safety. Boxing needs better medical protocols and these protocols have to be uniformly enforced from state to state."
Thomas Hauser's email address is [email protected]. His most recent book – A Dangerous Journey: Another Year Inside Boxing – will published this month by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.