Venus Williams fights back against the car-accident widow who is suing her

Venus Williams during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London

Just before Wimbledon started, Venus Williams got sued in civil court for wrongful death. She was driving near her home in Florida, and her SUV got T-boned in the middle of a busy intersection, and a passenger in the car that T-boned her ended up dying. Initially, the police said Venus was at fault because she was in the intersection on a red light. Venus’s lawyer claimed at the time that no, Venus had entered the intersection lawfully on a green light and she was merely caught up in traffic. Venus was devastated, and she wept openly during one of her pressers. Then someone – likely Venus’s lawyer, I would think – found some security footage at one of businesses around the intersection which proved that Venus was telling the truth. She entered the intersection on a green light. The police retracted their finding that Venus was at fault. That didn’t stop the widow who was driving the other car from continuing with the civil case though. And now Venus is fighting back:

Venus Williams has finally fired back at the wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the fatal car accident she reportedly caused last month that left a 78-year-old man dead. New legal documents obtained by show the tennis star is denying all allegations that she contributed to the death of Jerome Barson in a collision that occurred in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on June 9. Instead, Williams is blaming the passengers’ injuries on their own negligence for not wearing their seat belts, court papers state.

The Wimbledon finalist is also claiming Jerome and Linda Barson failed to adequately maintain and repair their vehicle and blasts the claim the plaintiff sustained a permanent injury, scarring or disfigurement. According to court papers, Venus is now demanding the estate hand over all autopsy reports, death certificate, copies of marriage certificates, tax returns for past five years, life insurance policies, health insurance policies.

She is also seeking they provide all copies of photos taken pertaining to the crash, Mr Barson’s medical records for the past five years, all degrees and diplomas, and a list of available tissue, blood or fluid samples from the autopsy. Williams also requests a list of all the doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists seen by the victim in the past 10 years, information on any hospital or institution treatment, and for records pertaining to all illnesses or disorders he had prior to the crash.

The athlete’s response comes a day after revealed she had opposed the Barsons’ notice of production for her phone records. Barson family attorneys say security camera footage shows Williams moving her hand towards her face before the collision – and they want to know if she was texting or talking on the phone while driving. The 37-year-old opposed the notice served on T-Mobile last Thursday. She did not give a reason in her formal objection, but attorneys acting for Barson’s family’s in the multi-million dollar suit are now huddling to decide their next legal step to obtain the records.

‘If Venus isn’t guilty and she was driving with all due care and attention then why wouldn’t she hand over those records?’ said a source with knowledge of the suit. ‘If she was distracted by her phone at the time of the accident then negligence becomes an issue – and suddenly things could get a whole lot worse for her.’

[From The Daily Mail]

I feel like some people might react by thinking Venus is the one going after the widow. My take is that Venus sort of hoped that the widow would drop or suspend the civil case after the cops retracted their finding that Venus was at fault. The widow filed her multimillion case against Venus just days after her husband’s death, and the whole thing does seem rather shady (just my opinion). My take is that Venus has really good lawyers and she and her legal team want to get to the bottom of this. If the Barsons were not wearing seat belts… well, that changes things, right? Just FYI: It’s against the law to be in the front seat of a car without wearing your seatbelt in Florida. It is not against the law to use your cellphone while driving in Florida.

2017 Mylan World Team Tennis

Photos courtesy of WENN, Pacific Coast News.

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87 Responses to “Venus Williams fights back against the car-accident widow who is suing her”

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  1. detritus says:

    This lady is letting greed and bad lawyers take over for logic. The footage is pretty undeniable, they hit Venus. Not then other way around.

    • Esmom says:

      Agreed. Seems like the logical thing to do is drop the suit but instead they seem to be doubling down on going after Venus. Awful. Good for her team for hitting back!

    • Lahdidahbaby says:

      Exactly right, detritus. Greed and vengeance do not make a legitimate case.

    • KDM says:

      Truth. Thank God for security footage. Lady, just because you have a green light, it does not mean you barrel full steam ahead and don’t have to avoid things in your path. Sorry your husband died, but the fault lies with you.

  2. Rice says:

    Sounds like a shakedown to me.

    • Beth says:

      There really isn’t any reason Venus should need the deceased’s psych records from 10 years ago or diplomas. Or tissue samples and bloodwork. He wasn’t driving the car, so it seems unnecessary for his complete medical history, autopsy, *and samples*. It feels more like they are trying to delay his burial to pressure the widow into dropping the case.

      • Peeking in says:

        Venus’ lawyers may want to see if he had pre-existing conditions that may have meant he had a short time to live. Or any reason to deliberately crash their car.

      • Scal says:

        As some others have said below-this isn’t from Venus or her lawyers. It’s from the insurance company lawyers, and this is par for the course from them. They follow up on the requests from the other party-and request a lot of their own so they can find anyway to reduce their payment.

  3. Senaber says:

    Any slight fender bender could kill someone not wearing their seatbelt. In my state, the driver is legally liable for passengers not wearing seatbelts.
    I think the ambulance chasing lawyer representing the widow is in over his/her head now.

  4. Nyawira says:

    I mean Venus isn’t countersuing. She is merely replying to the widows suit and it looks like a standard reply. Demand that the widow prove every aspect of her plaint starting with whether she and husband were of sound of mind.

    I also think it’s standard to refuse a phone records request. This is hardball, make them chase it even if there’s nothing there. I doubt Venus was on the phone. If she was, she would have been advised to duck the pr fallout. She would have quietly settled this a long time ago and gotten an NDA out of the widow. Her press team would then have painted it as just her feeling bad for them and wanting to make it better even though it was never her fault.

    • Esmom says:

      But even if she was on her phone, which apparently isn’t illegal, why would she settle? Talking on the phone wasn’t the cause of the crash.

      • Sorry, no dignity in that says:

        “Venus Williams in deadly car accident” is a bad headline and basically bad pr for a good athlete. It would affect her as a testimonial for the companies who sponsor her.

        It seems more of a blackmail situation with Williams’ being the victim. Though my guess is that the grieving widow has some bad lawyers.

      • bluhare says:

        She could settle because her insurance company will decide it’s cheaper to pay out some money than fight it. It happens all the time.

      • V4Real says:

        Who needs to hold their cell phones while talking anymore. Most cars are equipped with Bluetooth. Now you can even use voice command to text.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Just FYI hands free isn’t brain free. Any discussions on phone with people not present are distracting and still contribute to limitations in processing time and visuospatial resources. Best to pull over or wait no matter what. There is no such thing as true multitasking…both tasks suffer.

      • Esmom says:

        WATP, I totally agree. In fact I’ve often wondered how/why hands free devices were ever deemed acceptable while driving. I tell my teen driver kids all the time that it is the conversation that’s distracting, not the device (unless you’re texting, I guess but that’s a whole other conversation). At least for me.

        And to all, yes, I can see why her company would settle if it’s cheaper. But it seems like it’s the other driver’s insurance who should be considering settling since they seem so clearly at fault. So unfair.

    • TQB says:

      In addition, the request for all the health records is relevant to a actuarial determination of the value of the loss of life. Sounds harsh, right? That’s how you measure damages in a wrongful death suit. If the victim had heart disease, high cholesterol and a history of alcoholism, his expected life is shorter and thus the damages for killing him lower. If he’s a 24 year old marathon runner in spectacular health, damages go way up. The part of this that is super creepy is how mental illness plays in – a history of treatment for depression (for example) essentially devalues your life in these cases.

      TL;DR, all of Venus’ lawyers’ requests are completely standard in response to a wrongful death suit, as gross as it sounds.

      • The Original Mia says:

        That’s what my former insurance agent/adjuster mother said. It’s the actuary which will determine how much this man’s life was valued. Harsh, but that’s the way things on in the insurance business.

    • FLORC says:

      It’s simple protection in a legal sense. I get it.

  5. LooperFor says:

    Team Venus for sure.

  6. Giulia says:

    My opinion is the plaintiff’s side is using the threat of smearing/undermining Williams’ public image to force her to settle with them. The plaintiff’s attorneys know damn well that even if Williams was talking on her cell in the intersection that is not illegal in FL, so it’s all about innuendo and damage to her reputation. It’s a game.

  7. Dinma says:

    I can’t even believe this. I am angry for her, the only reason this is even a case is because a professional tennis player happens to be involved.

  8. Julie says:

    I was pretty sure that the cops stated that she was NOT on the phone at the time of the accident as well that she was not under the influence of alcohol etc.

    • Sorry, no dignity in that says:

      Makes you wonder why the widow does sue Venus, right?

      • Cinderella says:

        I thought I heard our news station say Barson’s daughter initially filed the lawsuit. Either way, it’s a greedy money grab, and I hope it goes nowhere. The fault is not on Venus.

    • robin says:

      The police also said on the same day of the accident, it was Venus’ fault. They had to backtrack when Venus’ team got their hands on the security camera footage. Footage that the police didn’t seem to look for at the time of the accident.

      • Cannibell says:

        I’m going to go there. The police didn’t look for footage and initially blamed Venus. I’m guessing that the couple she hit was white.

  9. Megan says:

    Venus has insurance. She isn’t demanding any of this. Her insurance company’s lawyers are demanding it, which is standard in a wrongful death suit. The Daily Fail is sensenationalizing the story, shocker.

    • abby says:

      Quite right.

      It’s likely Venus’s insurance company that is making these demands. They are a business and they are going to fight tooth and nail against handing over a penny to the plaintiff. But even if it’s not the insurance company but rather Venus’s lawyer, it’s fair game.
      They requested Venus’ health and phone records why not go after theirs? Mrs. Barson will have to demonstrate that she (and her husband) was not at fault in any way.

      Of course, the tabs want to pit the poor, defenseless widow who lost her loving husband of 30+ years on her birthday against cruel unfeeling, multimillionaire Venus. The racial optics play into it as well.

      It’s a tragedy for the family and I am sure Venus is devastated that she was involved in any way. But this sensationalism is ridiculous.

      • bluhare says:

        Like everything else, it will come down to money. Unless Venus wants to fund it herself, it’s likely her company will settle because it’s cheaper than fighting it.

    • Loopy says:

      Question: why would they need degrees and diplomas?

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        It is a pretty standard request to gauge whether a party has any special knowledge or expertise. For example, if the driver who hit Venus had a degree in physics, then he knew or should have known that driving without a seatbelt was extremely dangerous.

      • Megan says:

        Judgements are usually based on a person’s earning potential. Degrees and diplomas would help establish that.

      • bluhare says:

        Except they’re retired. They should be asking for social security and pension statements!

    • snowflake says:

      Their headline really pissed me off. It said Venus bashes…. I posted several commentson there supporting her. Because Venus is rich and black and it’s an old lady, people are being rough on her. But she also had a lot of people supporting her

  10. Julie says:

    Ok I found info re: possible “disgraced driving” i.e. Cell phone use:
    “”Williams was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to the police report obtained by TMZ. There was also no evidence she was using an electronic device during the crash.””

  11. Luca76 says:

    Sometimes people in grief act out in spiteful ways. As well as seeing dollar signs ,the widow probably doesn’t want to face reality. I’m sorry Venus has to deal with this although it must be a relief to have it known she wasn’t responsible.

    • Sorry, no dignity in that says:

      some lawyers specialise on such cases with a famous+rich person involved. The famous+rich person wants to avoid bad press and will try to settle out of court even when the famous person wasn’t at fault.


  12. Julie says:

    Argh!! Autocorrect!! I meant “distracted” driving not “disgraced”

    • Lascivious says:

      @Julie, I saw that and smiled because I’ve been guilty of disgraced driving a few times 🙂

    • bluhare says:

      Some people’s driving is a disgrace, Julie. 🙂

    • Cran says:

      Auto Correct Ed is a frequent nemesis of mine as well. He has a unique sense of humor that pops up at the most inappropriate moments. He has earned his own moniker through the lasting memories he has engendered.

    • Insomniac says:

      Hee. I kind of like “disgraced driving,” myself.

  13. BearcatLawyer says:

    Here is what I do not understand…it is undisputed that Venus’ car was T-boned by the victim’s car. As the evidence shows that Venus entered the intersection when the light was green, then the victim had to have been stopped at a red light before the accident. Since when do you hit the gas and T-bone someone just because your light changed to green? I was taught in driver’s ed that in this factual scenario it would be your fault for T-boning someone because you should have checked to see that your path was clear before proceeding. This really does seem like a shakedown. Poor Venus.

    • swak says:

      Agree totally. I always wait before proceeding after a light turns green. Too many times I have seen cars speeding through several seconds after a light has turned red. Would have been seriously injured one time if I hadn’t waited. This is a shakedown plain and simple.

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        I call waiting a few seconds after the light turns green for the red light runners the “Houston pause.” Everyone does it here. Too many uninsured and underinsured drivers!

      • Erica_V says:

        @swak I was the first in line at a red light the other morning. I was looking down at my radio, zoned out for a second and the light turned green. The person behind me beeped, I took my foot off the brake to roll forward and someone ran the light speeding through from the left. If I hadn’t been looking down I would’ve gone as soon as it was green and would’ve been slammed into on my drivers side.

        I take those little moments as my karma rewards.

    • Merritt says:

      The widow probably wasn’t stopped. My guess is she was approaching the intersection when the light turned green and sped up.

      • abby says:

        The widow admitted in one of her statements that she was approaching the light as it was red and began to slow but when it turned green she sped up again. She never stopped.
        I posted a link in a previous thread but don’t have time to find it now. Heading to work.

        Unless Barson was misquoted that appears to be how it played out.

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        So she sped up just because her light turned green and assumed Venus’ car would get out of her way? That is unbelievably reckless. She obviously did not check that the intersection was clear and was not paying attention to traffic.

      • Merritt says:


        It looks that way. Barson may not have been paying attention to what was going on in the intersection, but I don’t think that helps her case against Venus. As the driver Barson had the responsibility to pay attention to traffic.

      • BackstageBitchy says:

        @merritt that’s exactly what the video appeared to show. They were never stopped at the light. They were approaching it when it turned green and just plowed into the intersection, hitting Venus broadside…

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, it seems like the other driver was clearly negligent. I wonder if they’d be proceeding with the suit if she’d hit someone who wasn’t rich and famous. How infuriating.

      • Alisha says:

        People do that all the time, either out of aggression or carelessness. I got stuck in an intersection once because an ambulance came through up ahead and flipped the lights, there was nothing I could do. Some guy in a truck came barreling right up to my drivers side window honking and yelling, I did not think he would stop.

    • Sorry, no dignity in that says:

      Same in my country. You must not enter a crossroad even you have green lights when there is still cars standing on the crossroads from the crossing street.

      • Bridget says:

        Venus was stopped in the intersection because someone actually cut her off. She followed traffic laws appropriately.

    • Lascivious says:

      Exactly. Since most collisions happen in intersections, you’re meant to approach intersections cautiously, especially when the lights have just changed. In the video, the driver seems to accelerate right into Venus’ car.

    • bluhare says:

      Such a shakedown. I read somewhere (which I could remember now — maybe here?) that the lawyer they hired (hired by their daughter?) is one who advertises on TV — you know the ones who talk about getting what you deserve and fighting those horrible insurance companies — for 33% of your take that is. No question in my mind that their attorney is maximizing this to get all the publicity s/he can for their firm too.

      I don’t see how Venus could be held liable for this at all. If anything, she should be suing them for recklessness. Which makes me wonder — what happens to these things when the insurance companies determine fault? If Venus is determined to not be at fault — which it looks like from the video, what happens to the suit then? And what about the car which turned left right in front of Venus? If anyone is at fault it’s that guy for cutting her off and leaving her in the intersection.

      • Chingona says:

        Yes, I live about 30 mins away from where this happened and am in the viewing area. This law office is probably the main one that advertises in this area. They are definitely ambulance chasers going after a huge payday.

    • Insomniac says:

      That’s what I don’t get either. You get taught in every driving course that even if you have the right of way, you still have to be careful not to enter a situation that’s going to endanger people. And yet she just plowed right into Venus.

      I really thought these people would go away after that video came out and showed what actually happened.

    • Bridget says:

      I’ve asked that too. This woman sounds like she was driving incredibly negligently. Venus was stopped in the intersection in the first place because someone cut her off making a turn. And the fact that the deceased wasn’t wearing a seatbelt? It must be heartbreaking to the widow knowing that this is her own fault.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Exactly! The widow is essentially saying because she had a green light, she had the right to plow through the intersection, even if it hadn’t cleared yet. That is not true!

      I once was in an accident where I got rear ended because the light ahead was green, but traffic wasn’t moving yet. The driver behind me approached the light, saw green and floored it into totally stopped cars. Some people are dangerous drivers.

    • ELX says:

      The driver apparently wasn’t stopped at the intersection. She was approaching the intersection, the light flashed from red to green and she barreled on through and into VW’s car, which was stationary, waiting for traffic to clear. All of a piece with the lack of seat belts–reckless.

  14. Sorry, no dignity in that says:

    Seems like some people are trying to milk rich Venus Williams. Because the press is reporting on this car accident with somebody dying this will be bad pr for Venus Williams. Because the question who is at fault won’t be as important as “Venus Williams’ deadly car accident”. So it seems the widow hopes that Williams will try to settle this in order to avoid bad press.

    It is shady and bad. And demanding Venus Williams’ medical records??? What for? Shaming her ? Published medical records can harm an athlete’s reputation.

    I understand that the widow is probably very very sad about the death of her partner. I am very sorry for her loss. But it seems that she has lawyers who might have told her that there is some money in this?

    This is going to get ugly.

    • tmot says:

      She probably cannot face that it is her fault, for her negligent driving (and her husband’s, for not wearing his seatbelt) that he is dead.

      Also, ambulance chasers are scum.

  15. HelloSunshine says:

    Yeah, the first red flag in my opinion was that this suit was filed a few days after the accident. I know grief manifests in different ways but if I just lost my husband, I don’t believe I’d be thinking about suing someone. I also firmly believe if this had been an accident with someone who isn’t rich and famous, a lawsuit would not have been filed at all. This was a shakedown and, for some reason, the widow is continuing even though it really seems like she has no leg to stand on. She’s getting bad legal advice clearly.

    Venus is wonderful, I hope this can be over quickly and she can get back to living her best life. She was a big inspiration for me growing up, along with Serena.

    • LadyT says:

      This is clearly a shakedown. Initially they may have truly have believed they had a case ( and were seeing $$$) but now with further investigation/video it is clear that they don’t. Their last hope was to prove she was on the phone and try to finagle that into something. Venus’ lawyers fired back with mountains of requests in an effort to bury the lawyer and erase any imaginings of quick money. More power to them.

    • OriginallyBlue says:

      This is definitely a shakedown and the lawyers are probably hoping to get Venus to go against her insurance company and just settle to make the headlines and guilt go away. Look how upset she was at that press conference at Wimbledon. Even though she’s not at fault they are hoping her guilt will get the best of her and she will pay out.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Ah that S Florida litigious lifestyle. Someone from there visited me once, slipped (not a house problem for me),hurt her ankle, got home to Florida and called to ask if she could sue me because someone there suggested it.

      I said no.

  16. Green Is Good says:

    The plaintiffs are at fault. Done and done.

  17. Tania says:

    This is all so crazy. They’re suing her because THEY HIT HER CAR! Where in the world is it someone else’s fault that you hit them and your loved one died?

    They need to withdraw their suit. Maybe they expect since it’s red state Florida the black woman is at fault for daring to not move out of their way when their light turned green so the wife killed the husband.

    If Venus was on the phone, it doesn’t matter (does it?) because THEY HIT HER!

    I hate people that are on their phones texting and talking. I live just outside of KC and neither Missouri nor Kansas has laws against cellphone use and it’s the one thing I think they need. Everytime I leave the house I don’t even need to drive a mile to see some crazy person with a phone to their ear or texting while driving. A lot of police cars on the road to stop us from speeding but none to get us to put the phone down. I moved here from a place that had hefty fines so I’m well trained in not using my cellphone while driving and it really boils my blood that so many people could possibly kill me because they had to take that call or send that text.

    • Esmom says:

      We cell phone laws and it doesn’t seem to deter people from texting and talking. At all.

    • bluhare says:

      In my state, a law was just enacted that says you can’t have your phone in your hand while driving. Not even at stop lights.

      • Bridget says:

        You must be in Washington too.

      • bluhare says:

        I am. And looking at my fellow drivers at stop lights (I did!), many of them are not obeying that part!

      • Bridget says:

        People were more worried when they thought eating and drinking was outlawed.

      • Lady D says:

        In BC it’s a $543 fine the first time you’re caught on your phone while driving and almost $900 the second time. Sadly, there is not a lot of enforcement.

    • Erica_V says:

      In RI you can talk & drive (unless you’re under 18 or a bus driver) but not text & drive. You can email & drive, update your fantasy team & drive, post comments on IG & drive but not text & drive. So basically if you’re pulled over for texting & driving you can just say no I was writing an email and legally there is nothing they can do.

  18. Carol says:

    Even if she were on the phone or, God forbid, texting, the video doesn’t show that she did anything wrong. It appears she entered the intersection legally and at a correct speed, yielded to the turning car, and proceeded to clear the intersection when they hit her.

    Per the quoted story, they need to remove the phrase “she reportedly caused,” since the police changed their official report to delete that she was responsible for the crash.

  19. LA Elle says:

    I’m not rich or famous but I got entangled in an insurance cash grab a couple years ago. Despite having photos of no damage to either car and a police statement suggesting fraud, my insurance company paid out several thousand dollars to the other car.

    Reading about Venus makes me sick for her. It’s a horrible feeling to be falsely accused and have the other party so focused on dollar signs as to lose all humanity and compassion.

  20. magnoliarose says:

    It sickens me that some grifter is trying to cash in on a tragedy. I hope Venus plays hard with this greedy woman and makes it impossible to get a penny out of her. I am sorry the husband died but it is the wife’s fault for reckless driving. The man was 78 years old and not wearing a seat belt in Florida where there are elderly drivers and a hefty number of crazy drivers.

  21. sa says:

    It may be greed, but I can’t help but wonder if guilt is also a motivator in this lawsuit. Wasn’t the wife that’s suing driving the other car? It seems very human to want to make it all someone else (Venus Williams) fault. I can’t help but wonder how much of this is motivated by guilt & wanting someone else to blame.

    • InVain says:

      You make a really interesting point. In all of this mess, she lost her husband. I’m sure she can’t live with the thought that it might actually be her fault. The whole situation reeks of greed, but I could definitely see guilt playing a factor. Either way, dragging Venus through the mud is unfair. I’m glad the video surfaced. This woman should go away quietly and be grateful that she’s alive. The whole no seatbelt thing is extremely negligent as well.

  22. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    I don’t understand this- Venus entered on a green light, and the plaintiffs were shown colliding with her slow moving vehicle at a high rate of speed. What is there to possibly contest? There is incontrovertible evidence on video.