Former NFL Player Accused of Attempted Murder Seeks to Delay Civil Case

A former player for the Denver Broncos accused of attempted murder has asked a Colorado court to delay a related civil lawsuit until his criminal trial concludes. A motion filed July 21 in Boulder County Court argues if the two cases against Justin Bannan go forward at the same time, each case could encroach on his rights in the other. An attorney for plaintiff Ashley Marie said his team will oppose the motion. 

In October 2019, Bannan was arrested and charged with attempted murder on suspicion of shooting Ashley Marie in the arm as she went into a treatment room in Black Lab Sports to prepare for an appointment with a client. At the time, Westword reported Bannan told law enforcement he was being chased by members of the Russian mafia. The outlet also reported Bannan said he has the brain disorder hydrocephalus. 

Bannan’s criminal arraignment is currently scheduled for Aug. 6.

In June, Marie sued Bannan for negligence and also named Black Lab Sports as a defendant under the Premises Liability Act. The lawsuit alleges that because Bannan has an ownership interest in Black Lab Sports, the company knew at least through Bannan that an unsafe condition existed on the premises because of his presence. According to the complaint, Black Lab Sports failed to meet its duty of reasonable care to protect Marie. 

Marie seeks damages related to economic loss because of medical and rehabilitation expenses, wage loss and loss of earning capacity.

The motion to stay claims information Bannan provides in the civil case could be used against him in his criminal case, while invoking his right to remain silent in the criminal case could be used against him in the civil case. 

“This effectively leaves Defendant with a Hobson’s choice: risk severe prejudice and potential loss in his civil case by invoking his Fifth Amendment right or risk the use of any civil testimony or responses being used against him in his criminal case,” states the motion.

Marc Harden, founding partner of Zaner Harden Law said a defendant requesting a stay in proceedings has the onus of showing why the potential harm to them by going forward outweighs the potential harm to the victim by delaying the case. 

He said while Bannan’s argument about his rights against self-incrimination in the motion to stay is grounded in sound law, delaying the civil case against Bannan is unfair because Marie has significant medical costs associated with her injuries and has also suffered economic damages by not having the same ability to work as she did before the shooting. Harden added the plaintiff’s side has the right to investigate and gather evidence from Black Lab Sports as a separate defendant.

“In this case, the problem is Mr. Bannan’s charges have been out there for a very, very long time and he still hasn’t even done the most basic thing, which is enter a plea in the case. And he’s at the same time asking my client, who’s really suffering, to perpetuate waiting for the conclusion of this very serious criminal case,” Harden said. He added the criminal case could take years to conclude, and the civil case’s proceedings could stretch on for years after that.

Harden said he expects a ruling on the motion to stay sometime in September. [Note: Will add in whether opposing firm gets back to me by Friday morning]

The two sides may have already anticipated each other’s arguments, but they’re looking at different colored skies with how they each believe the court should weigh their clients’ interests. The motion to stay characterizes the effect on Marie of delaying the civil case much differently than Harden’s view, calling concerns about a delay in the civil case “modest.” The motion adds that staying the case likely wouldn’t change much about the timing of resolving it, given that the COVID-19 pandemic has already caused continuances of civil cases months into the future. 

“Defendant Bannan anticipates that Plaintiff will argue a stay pending the outcome of the criminal case will cause delay in the conclusion of this civil action,” states the motion. “However, any modest concern about inconvenience or delay in the civil matter is clearly overshadowed by Defendant Bannan’s interest in ‘avoiding the quandary of choosing between waiving [his] Fifth Amendment rights or effectively forfeiting the civil case.’”

—Julia Cardi

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