BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A judge cited Alabama’s “stand your ground” law Wednesday in throwing out a lawsuit against University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s daughter, who was being sued by her sorority sister over a fight.
Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge James H. Roberts Jr. ruled that Kristen Saban was justified in using force to defend herself during a 2010 scuffle with Sarah Grimes, a one-time best friend of the coach’s daughter.
Grimes claimed Kristen Saban, 23, injured her during a brawl that followed a night of drinking, but the judge ruled that evidence showed Grimes initiated the confrontation.
Alabama’s “stand your ground” law — similar to the Florida statue cited by George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin — meant Saban had a right to fight back with reasonable force, Roberts ruled.
Grimes sued in state court in 2012, seeking an unspecified amount of money for injuries. An attorney for Grimes, Stephen Strickland, declined comment.
Bob Prince and Josh Hayes, attorneys representing Kristen Saban, said the coach’s family was vindicated in its refusal to pay “hush money” to Grimes to avoid the lawsuit and subsequent bad publicity over the brawl.
The subject of money was brought up during talks between Grimes’ mother and Terry Saban, the coach’s wife, said Hayes.
“The Sabans had a choice, and they chose to do the hard thing to put their family through that. But there are some things you have to go through in life even through it is difficult,” he said.
Arguments during a hearing and court documents showed the two women got into a fight at Kristen Saban’s apartment after a night of partying in Tuscaloosa.
Saban posted “No one likes Sarah yayyyyy!” on Facebook, and Grimes banged on her closed bedroom door demanding that the post be removed. The judge said Grimes became the aggressor once the door was opened by yelling within inches of Kristen Saban’s face, so Saban was justified in pushing Grimes.
The two women, both members of the Phi Mu sorority, became entangled in a fracas that included pushing and hair pulling. Grimes portrayed Kristen Saban as the aggressor and claimed she suffered serious injuries including a concussion and nasal problems that required surgery.
“If anyone was assaulted in this incident it was Kristen,” said Hayes.
Both women graduated from Alabama in 2012.
The Sabans have no plans for a countersuit, Hayes said, but Grimes could still appeal Roberts’ decision.