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Author: MichaelEhline

MMA’s Justin Thornton Bare-Knuckle Fight Death – Can Survivors Sue?

The sports community is sending our deepest condolences and our firm to the family and close friends over fighter Justin Thornton’s August 20, 2021, death.

The incident is not the first in professional wrestling sports or MMA

Fighters can lose their lives from matches and other factors at the hospital after a fight. He died weeks after suffering a one-hit knockout blow at the BKFC 20 (Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 20.). Since 2019, 7 fighters have died in MMA events, with many more in unsanctioned cage fighting. In this article, our personal injury attorneys delve into how fighter Justin Thornton died and whether survivors can legally sue the deceased’s opponent in the fight game.

We cover how a decedent’s family can sue for wrongful death against fight event managers, etc. Let’s get into the meat of the story.

Combat Sports Community Devastated by Thornton’s Death

The fight between fighter Justin Thornton and Dillon Cleckler was a rematch of the first fight at Square Ring Promotions-Island Fight 20. Dillon Cleckler faced MMA fighter Justin Thornton at the BKFC 20, where the 39-year-old MMA fighter viciously knocked out Justin Thornton, who fell face-first onto the canvas during the first 18 seconds of the fight.

The fighter was immediately taken to the hospital on a stretcher and remained at the medical center for a few weeks. On September 23, 2021, Amber Willard, dating Thornton then, posted on Thornton’s Facebook account stating that he was partially paralyzed. She updated Thornton’s fans on his social media account that Justin could not breathe properly and was on ventilator support. According to her, he had a lung infection and was also on medication for his spinal injuries.

Unfortunately, the BKFC President, Dave Feldman, confirmed to MMA Fighting the passing away of Justin Thornton on October 4, 2021. The causes of the death remain unknown, with some stating that it was pneumonia. Still, on the day the news of his passing broke, BKFC President Dave Feldman and the combat sports community expressed their grief at the untimely passing of the MMA fighter during his last fight in the first round by knockout.

Dillion Cleckler, a heavy-weight MMA fighter with a professional record of 13 wins and one loss, paid his condolences to Thornton’s family after hearing the news of the fighter’s demise.

Cleckler took his grief to his social media accounts, where he posted on Instagram about how he felt after receiving the news. Cleckler was on his way to training when he found out about the passing of Thornton and was utterly devastated. He mentioned how Thornton was a warrior with an ever-ready fighting spirit and that he was always up for a good fight at any time of the day. Cleckler stated his respect for Thornton and wished prayers for his family before signing off the post with “RIP Warrior.”

Medical Advisory Warns the Athletic Commission to Exercise Caution

Following the death of Justin Thornton, the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) medical advisory committee issued a statement asking athletic commissions to proceed with caution about bare-knuckle fighting. They stated that minimal data highlighted the risks of combat sports, including a neck compression spinal cord injury, a fighter’s death,

Dr. Michael Schwartz of the ABC medical committee mentioned that most of the fighters in bare-knuckle boxing were older athletes. These older athletes were officially released from fighting for consecutive losses and sustaining multiple injuries and were out of practice in their MMA career histories. However, they could compete in such events as a bare-knuckle fighting championship.

Dr. Schwartz expressed concerns that these older athletes competing were at a higher risk of acute and chronic head injuries. He also pointed out that despite minimum medical recommendations, some jurisdictions do not follow the minimum medical guidelines set by the ABC. Many athletic commissions do not require CT scans or MRIs before clearing a fighter to compete. This increases the medical risks for older athletes already at risk of acute and chronic injuries.

ABC president Mike Mazzulli (director of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, CT) reportedly stated that he was:

“… surprised that a tragic outcome like Thornton’s death “had not happened any sooner.”

The ABC Medical Committee urged the need for enhanced individual fighter safety screening by a board-certified neurologist prior to their bare-knuckle fights.

What Happens If an MMA Fighter Kills Their Opponent?

Specific violence is generally accepted in sanctioned MMA fights, particularly bare-knuckle boxing matches. Fighters must follow a strict set of rules and regulations for every fight. If they step outside those bounds, they expose themselves to the scrutiny of the law.

Some moves, such as the twelve to six elbow, are illegal to execute in the cage. Bare-knuckle boxing fighters executing such moves on their opponents could be held liable for the death of a bare-knuckle boxing fighter or any injuries sustained due to their illegal actions depending on the rules. In this case, fighters are deemed to consent to contact within the acceptable course and scope of a bare-knuckle fighting championship, etc.

Exceeding Reasonable Criminal Standards?

Several prosecutions have occurred in combat sports for illegal activities such as tampering with gloves, low blows, and eye gouges. However, even though there have been several deaths in combat sports, no fighters were ever prosecuted for death. This is because there were no illegal actions during the fight, and the fighter who died succumbed to injuries from the sanctioned bout.

If a party believes that rules were not followed during the fight, resulting in the injuries or death of a fighter, they can take the matter to court. If so, charges for murder and criminal battery could be levied.

Civil Wrongful Death Claims

The close family and other approved representatives may have the basis for filing a wrongful death lawsuit or survival action against the event vendors and the fighter who killed the victim. Damages are for lost past, present, and future income like prize money, consortium, and other things depending on the claims brought and by whom. As we learn more, we will immediately update our readers.

Speak With an MMA Fighting Lawsuit Attorney Today

Injuries can occur not only in the UFC ring but also outside. If you suffered injuries from an accident that was not your fault, contact us at +(833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation with our legal experts.

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Jessie Henry: MMA Pro and Firefighter Tire Explosion Case

The injuries were sustained in a Louisiana truck explosion, an on-duty accident, around 9 a.m on a Saturday in December.

What Happened?

Henry served as a firefighter at South Bossier Fire District 2 Station No. 4. He maintained a truck tire at one of the district’s stations over the weekend when the tire on the fire truck exploded without warning. Jessie didn’t manage to escape and was declared dead that night.

Witness Testimony

Gray Young, the chief of training for South Bossier Fire District 2, stated, “The inner rim of the tire popped off of the wheel itself and chrome wheel simulator — a chrome hub cap inside of that wheel — struck him, and he was blown approximately 20 feet.” Young also mentioned the mixed martial arts fighter recently started his dream of becoming a paramedic by studying to continue his certification.

The Wrongful Death Accident was Very Serious

He was immediately transported to Ochsner LSU Hospital post-incident; however, this was the hospital where he later died after succumbing to his life-threatening injuries.

A Military History and Community Server

Before becoming a northwest Louisiana firefighter, Jessie served in the U.S. Army for four years and was an active part of the Army Reserves. Furthermore, he had a non-profit that gave scholarships to young students.

The MMA World Lost a Legend

Henry had a 2-2 record as an MMA fighter. His last victory came in against Andy Carrington in April – he won by a split decision. Henry’s previous match was against Craig Grove.

His Family was Ripped Apart

He was survived by his 9-year-old daughter at the time, Karmen. His uncle also worked as a firefighter in Texas. We offer our condolences to his family and friends.

Commentary: Firefighter Jessie Henry Dies on Dec. 18

Authorities haven’t said what kind of maintenance he did when working that day. However, Henry’s family members told sources that a tire sensor hit Jessie in the head.

Attorneys Are Looking at This Case

The attorneys at Circle of Trust have been working with wrongful death, personal injury, and product defect law for eight years. Thus, the nature of the incident brings numerous questions to mind.

Many Questions to Ask

Did the South Bossier Parish Fire District 2 in LA have a normal maintenance program in place prior to the accident? Was the maintenance process fully overseen and followed? What was the nature of the maintenance that Henry was doing? Henry worked at the station for four years, according to the report – was adequately qualified to conduct the work he was doing when the tire exploded? What is the tire’s model, make, and identification number?

Government Mandates

The government mandates that all tires have an identification number indicating the manufacture date and location. Every tire in America can be traced back to the specific facility that was created using that ID number.

The Verdict: Jessie Henry MMA Pro and Firefighter Tire Explosion

A Fire Truck Tire Exploded – Someone Has to Pay

Jessie Henry was a brilliant firefighter, killed in an on-duty wrongful death accident on Saturday, Dec. 18. This truck explosion case may appear tragic. Yet, it could be because of a manufacturing flaw. A complete inquiry must be made on the tire and every tread piece. The surviving family members may be entitled to significant compensation as part of a product liability lawsuit.


  • Gray Media Group
  • CBA News, Las Vegas

Can Masahiro Tanaka Sue Over Head Injury?

Tanaka Likely Has A TBI?

Just over a week ago, baseball saw a traumatic injury caused by a mishap on the field. While training for the Coronavirus-shortened baseball season, pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was disabled after getting struck by a batted ball. This most likely caused a TBI in the Yankee star pitcher.

The AP covered the situation after Tanaka’s fellow teammate Aaron Judge hit him with a line drive. A traumatic brain injury takes many forms, including sports-related issues. A line drive to the head like this is enough to cause a concussion. Repeated concussions can lead to CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Can a Player Sue Due to a TBI?

Under Knight v. Jewett, it is highly doubtful Tanaka can sue MLB if he “assumed the risk” of being injured in baseball’s professional sport, with all its known risks. But like the NFL’s football helmet scandal, it remains to be seen if an exception makes clear getting hit in the head by a baseball without proper head protection is or is not a risk in the sport based upon these facts. But here, on its face, Tanaka was engaged in baseball. So it is unlikely a lawsuit against MLB will hunt unless…

One thing is sure that bodes poorly for the League. Batters wear hard hats to reduce their risks of hard baseball head strikes during batting and running the mounds. So we already know the League is on notice that its employees are at severe risk from baseballs flying around the diamond. Yet, a tiny batted ball falling from the sky with its sun, clouds, wind, and unpredictable weather is expected to be caught by a player looking up, who is only wearing a softcover and zero face protection.

Consumers like to buy baseball caps. And MLB knows the players deserve better head protection, not just for batters. But pitchers don’t wear batter hardhats, even though depending on skill level, a wooden batted baseball can travel at over 101 miles per hour, and a pitched fastball ball may exceed 100 miles per hour. All it takes is one ball in the face, and you are dead or seriously hurt. So the League, in effect, has chosen profits, selling baseball caps, over its players because wearing your favorite team’s hard hat is not fashionable for a team supporter who wants to buy sports apparel.

There are two separate questions at play here:

  • The first is whether or not a player will sue.
  • The other is whether or not a player has solid moral or legal grounds to sue.

In this case, Tanaka likely will not sue due to his million-dollar contract. The contract probably contains a waiver provision, where Tanaka signed away his right to sue for any injuries while engaging in club-related sporting activities. However, he would have the full right to do so if there was safety, equipment, or other condition in or around the danger zone that was not inherent in the sport. Traumatic brain injuries, especially in sports, are now only understood as frequency and causes are concerned.

Such accidents, especially in contact sports like football, destroyed dozens of lives and careers, such as brain injuries from bad helmets, Junior Seau, and his wrongful suicide. In the case of former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, it destroyed his career. It likely also played a role in his violent behavior, including committing murder. It possibly also contributed to his suicide.

Tanaka would be well within his rights to sue the Yankees or MLB for the injury. MLB knew or should have known that head injuries from baseball strikes are highly likely to result in death or serious injuries. Repeated exposure to concussions and other TBIs are expected to cause severe short, medium, and long-term consequences for MLB as it did for the NFL.

Significant sports leagues can no longer avoid the reality: TBIs destroy careers and lives. Just look at MMA star Matt Hughes and his Instagram channel to see the difficulties in brain injury healing. It’s a tough row to hoe.

The cost of long-term physical and cognitive care would be at the foot of the League. Furthermore, Tanaka would spark a precedent that protects future players from severe head injuries. For more info on TBIs and similar head injury cases, contact me at or keep reading our site for regular updates.


Should baseball players wear helmets?

Bat and Batted Ball Fatalities.”

The Physics of Baseball.”

The Liability Issue at the Heart of Naya Rivera’s Untimely Death

A Terrible Tragedy on The Water

Unfortunately, the story of Naya Rivera ended far too soon. The 33-year-old actress was confirmed dead after a probable boating accident in California. The former Glee star was believed dead after going missing on a boating trip with her son. There is still much info still to be released.

However, it appears that the boat may have tipped over. Rivera’s son was found alone in the craft. Unfortunately, on Sunday, authorities found a body. On Monday, it was confirmed to be the former Glee star.

Risk at the Lake

The 33-year-old tied as part of her boating expedition. Only her 4-year-old son survived. He said that he and his mother went swimming, yet she did not return to the boat. The accident occurred at Lake Piru in Ventura County, California. Authorities originally had issues during the search due to poor water visibility and objects under the water. Over 80 people were involved with the search initially. The lake is known for its whirlpools— which caused other deaths in the past.

The local officials did not take proper action to protect boaters and swimmers. For the untrained, Lake Piru is a major challenge. This also makes it a significant injury and drowning risk. If authorities did nothing and knew of the risk, they could be liable. Residents requested signs put up around the lake. However, that as of yet hasn’t happened. Furthermore, Rivera’s death was not the first at the site. In addition, the risk inherent at the site was ignored.

These factors all come together as a possible case of civic negligence. Local or county officials likely knew of a potentially deadly issue and, for whatever reason, did not act upon it. Perhaps it was due to time. Maybe it was due to money. Perhaps it was due to willful negligence.

Regardless of the immediate cause, another life was extinguished, at least in part, due to their inaction. The case is still unfolding, and I plan to cover it extensively. I’ve already written an op-ed about the risk of watercraft and possible child endangerment for the unprepared.

I’ll keep on it– and you can reach me through other articles on the site or at God Bless Naya Rivera’s family, and let us all pray that something like this never happens at Lake Piru again.

Gunnarr Ehline With Brigadier General Yoo

My son got a chance to hang out with Brigadier General Yoo (Marine Recon), and I took some time to chat with my fellow active duty Marines. Yoo was there watching Recon Marines exfil from helpicopters via fast roping. Was so awesome to meet him. A true hard charger.  I passed out cards, and let the Marines around me know they could call me if they needed work.  I am an affirmative action employer.  I affirmatively will walk over 50 college grads to hire a Marine vet.

Check out the general’s recon badge and UDT bubble.

General Yoo is the real deal.  And what a hard charger.  Rest assured, even with a terrible commander in chief, these Marines will do their duty. 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 3d Marine Division.  Ooooh rah!

Wife Surrounded By Marines

Hot Wife

This is the only time I was a little nervous. Look at these young Marines. No way I can compete with these hard chargers. “Honey take the pic and get in the car”.  She is just way too hot to leave with these American heroes.  That was that. Anyways, I have some great videos I will put up on Youtube of the Blue Angels on the way. Semper Fi.