Rener Gracie details the testimony he gave as an expert witness in a recent $46 million-dollar lawsuit.
Late last week, news broke that a jury in California had awarded a verdict for more than $46 million to a white belt BJJ student that suffered catastrophic injuries during a roll with his black belt instructor.
The plaintiff, Jack Greener, was a student at the Del Mar Jiu Jitsu Club in Del Mar, California. During a roll with instructor Francisco “Sinistro” Iturralde in November 2018, Itturalde attempted to perform a rolling back-take on Greener. The technique, popularized by Leo Viera, involves rolling a turtled opponent over his own shoulders.
An accomplished competitor, Iturralde was a 2013 IBJJF No-Gi Pans champion, as well as a 2014 IBJJF European champion.
The jury awarded Greener all past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, and $36 million for all past and future pain and suffering. The Del Mar Jiu Jitsu Club’s insurance provider – not the academy itself – is liable for the damages.
Soon, video of the incident that led to Greener’s injuries was released, with several prominent BJJ figures posting it to social media.
Rener Gracie details his perspective on failed technique that led to injuries
BJJ black belt Rener Gracie – the head of Gracie Academy – served as an expert witness for the plaintiff during the case, testifying to the specifics of the technique and how it was applied to Greener.
Following an outpouring of backlash against Gracie for his involvement with the case, Gracie recently released a 22-minute video explaining his role as an expert witness, his opinion on the incident, and his understanding of the facts surrounding the case.
In the video, Gracie details how Itturalde performed the back-take incorrectly, thereby putting Greener at extreme risk of injury. Gracie also explains that the technique had never been taught at that academy and that Iturralde had never performed the technique in that manner.
Gracie admits that the student, Greener, was not a complete beginner, having competed previously as a white belt.
Ultimately, Gracie concludes that given the difference in skill and the manner in which the technique was performed, Iturralde failed to ensure the safety of his student. Importantly, Gracie did not comment on the black belt’s intent or lack of intent to injure Greener.
Gracie also explains that he was compensated for his time as an expert witness, as is typical practice.