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Female rapper required to pay millions to assault victim


Head trauma often has long-lasting effects on an injury victim. It can cause permanent disability and complications that may require long-term care and substantial medical expenses. Americans, including those in Oklahoma, can suffer brain damage from motor-vehicle and workplace accidents, as well as from assaults by other people.

For example, a jury recently found that Grammy-nominated rapper Da Brat was legally responsible for the brain injury of a former cheerleader and waitress. The victim's injury was sustained in a 2007 assault inside an Atlanta nightclub. The 39-year-old rapper, whose legal name is Shawntae Harris, was ordered to pay $2.7 million in punitive damages and $3.7 million in compensatory damages.

The brain injury lawsuit against the rapper was filed in 2009. The incident happened when Harris used a bottle of rum to attack a former cheerleader and waitress at a Halloween party at the Studio 72 nightclub in 2007. The victim suffered neurological impairment, severe mental pain and permanent facial scarring. The plaintiff's attorney asserted that even though his client survived her brain injury, the criminal assault has probably changed her life forever.

Harris served nearly three years in prison for the nightclub assault. She remains on probation for the incident. Whether the rapper will file an appeal against the jury's verdict is not yet known.

In Oklahoma, an assault can have consequences, including criminal prosecution. For a victim, however, criminal penalties might not mean much, particularly if there are serious wounds or a brain injury involved. Besides the physical pain, a brain injury can be emotionally and financially challenging for the victim because it can affect employment opportunities and overall way of life. Fortunately, a personal injury lawsuit may allow the victim to receive compensation.

Source: International Business Times, "Jury Awards Shayla Stevens, Ex-Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader, $6.4M for Da Brat Attack," Howard Koplowitz, Feb. 28, 2014

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