Implications of Nevada Athletic Commission Court Decision vs. Estate of Tommy Morrison

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Implications of Nevada Athletic Commission Court Decision vs. Estate of Tommy Morrison
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent Online court case reference and decision

Patricia Morrison, wife of the late WBO World Heavyweight champion Tommy ‘The Duke’ Morrison, sued the Nevada Athletic Commission and Quest Diagnostics in July 2014, claiming her late husband never had HIV. According to the deposition from Morrison’s ex-wife Dawn Brady, Morrison told her in 2000 he had tested positive for HIV in 1989 as part of the blood screening requirements for a life insurance policy. When Morrison went into drug rehab in 1999, his intake counselor wrote Morrison had told him he had been HIV positive since 1989. In 1999, Morrison’s psychiatrist wrote to the boxer’s attorney that Morrison had been HIV positive since 1989 and had been receiving treatment for this. Morrison’s mother stated Morrison told her in 1994 he might be HIV positive.

On October 24, 2016, United States District Court Judge Ricard F. Boulware II. granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case. Morrison’s February 10, 1996. HIV test was ruled valid. In 2007, Tommy Morrison petitioned the NSAC to overturn its decision.

The decision against the estate of Tommy Morrison was based not solely on the HIV Positive tests of Tommy Morrison, but rather, the two and three year standard of Statute of Limitations began rolling in 1996, when Morrison first began questioning the validity of his HIV diagnosis. Defamation, libel, slander, and intentional interference with Morrison’s fight contract were not proven within the time allowed time frame for lawsuit.

Further, Morrison’s ex-wife told a more horrific side of his story. When asked if it was fairly common Morrison would tell people he was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1989, she said “I remember telling him that makes you sound like a monster-if you knew then in 1989, and then you chose to go to still sleep with all these women and put them at risk (for contracting HIV) and not tell them and not use condoms. And he (Tommy) just kind of laughed it off.” He never told her why he did it.

According to Morrison’s mother, Diana Morrison, Tommy had full-blown AIDS. She stated in his final days. His skin was jaundiced, and his liver was failing. “He was too far gone,” she noted, flashing an incredulous look when asked whether he could have recovered. “He was in in the end stages. That’s it.” She stated her son was bedridden for a year, couldn’t speak and was kept alive with the help of a feeding tube and a ventilator. She said Morrison’s wife Trisha, like Tommy, doesn’t believe he has HIV. “Tommy blew smoke up her butt about it,” Diana Morrison said. “He was been in denial ever since he’s had it. So he’s blown smoke up her rear end, and got her believing.”

Morrison could have contracted HIV, if he did, from injecting himself with steroids. Or from another boxer. Or from a woman during heterosexual contact. Noted Tommy, “I don’t know how I got. This is a blood sport. Over the years I’ve dealt with thousands of sparring partners, I’ve lived a reckless lifestyle (of promiscuity). You don’t really know where you got it.”

Morrison went public in February 1996, in a press conference, and on Maury Povich. “I think I’m a little bit in denial. I haven’t totally accepted this has happened to me,” stated Morrison on Maury Povich.

Yet of the other guests on Maury Povich who Morrison appeared with who had HIV are all still alive. If Morrison indeed had HIV, he definitely must not have been pursuing medical treatment if they are all alive 21 years later and he is long gone. Jonathan Swain and Lisa Tiger are indeed still alive. Morrison’s denial, if true, affecting his chances for ongoing treatment to extend his life.

In defense of Patricia Morrison, no woman known to have been associated with Morrison has claimed an HIV diagnosis, either directly or indirectly. This leaves only the possibility
Morrison contracted HIV during his boxing career from an opponent, or from illegal or legal injectable steroid use. For the Nevada State Athletic Commission to prove its case, the 1996 blood evidence Morrison had HIV was ruled valid, and this was the reason for denying him a license to box in 1996. Nevada argued in its court case Morrison was HIV positive in 1989 through paperwork evidence, literally only a few bouts into the start of his professional career. This was not proven by the blood evidence. If the claim is not subjected to further liability, it would have meant Morrison knew all along almost from the beginning he was HIV positive. No blood evidence before 1996 exists on record to support the validity of that claim, however. The court decision against the estate of Tommy Morrison states he fought professionally with HIV for seven years with full knowledge that he had the HIV virus.

The Statue of limitations ended Tricia Morrison’s case. Written and verbal statements Morrison had HIV as far back as 1989, almost 30 years ago, only make Morrison look that much worse in the eyes of boxing fans and boxing historians. Sure, blood and urine samples could be switched years ago when testing was not as vigilant. However, blood evidence support the 1996 HIV finding against Morrison, not the 1989 claim, it should be noted. Only the Statue of Limitations won NSAC and Quest Diagnostics its case, not blood evidence. If Tricia Morrison had presented blood evidence from Tommy Morrison to the contrary from a reliable source, it would have been fantastic. H It still would not have overturned the Statute of Limitations. Only if Morrison had questioned his diagnosis in the two to three year claim before filing would he have had a case, and he still would have had to present blood evidence to the contrary to prove his case. It should be noted not all blood testing is reliable, and standards of testing have certainly been improved since Morrison’s initial HIV positive diagnosis in February 1996 was declared.

Morrison won at least three times after declaring his comeback in 2007. Bloodwork was not directly required in the jurisdictions where Morrison fought (paperwork could have been provided).Two bouts were approved: John Castle in West Virginia in 2007; and Matt Wieshaar in Mexico in 2008. A third Morrison bout against Corey Williams in Wyoming, a modified Muay Thai for the Wyoming Heavyweight boxing title, took place in a state with no boxing commission and was unsanctioned, one of several unsanctioned bouts Morrison was known to have fought. Robert Brizel’s education on how a boxing career should not end is seen in the failure of the estate of Tommy Morrison’s frivolous lawsuit, a waste of time and money in the face of facts, most notably the time factor and the lack of prevailing evidence required to prevail in civil matters.

Robert Brizel
Robert Brizel
A native of New York’s Catskill Mountains, long a haven to boxers in training, New York City educator and sports writer Robert Brizel holds five university degrees in the education field, and has been writing about boxing since 1975. Robert has been an internet only boxing writer and photographer since 2008, and previously wrote for Saddoboxing. An old school writer rare in that he writes and takes his own boxing photos simultaneously, he seeks out different angles to create original stories. Robert is a frequent sight reporting boxing events in Atlantic City Casinos and New York City. Now expanding his writing to add MMA. Married with a daughter. A sharp dresser, Robert’s electric personality brings class and to events he covers. The only active boxing writer today licensed as a boxing manager and corner man, Robert works the corner in New York and New Jersey on occasion, adding a unique perspective and dimension to his perceptions of the fight game today. Also a trained vocalist who performed on the Catskill hotel nightclub stage for a decade as a child
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