Joe Schilling Uses Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law to Fight Off Civil Suit

Joe Schilling Bellator MMA
Joe Schilling Credit: Dave Mandel/

Bellator MMA veteran and kickboxing standout Joe Schilling has successfully defended himself against a lawsuit brought about by a man he KO’d at a Florida eatery.

Per an April 19, 2023 court filing, Schilling’s legal team appears to have convinced Broward County, Florida circuit court judge Fabienne E. Fahnestock that the pro fighter feared for his life during an altercation Schilling himself started.

The incident, which transpired in 2021, took place at B Square Burgers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and was caught on camera. The complainant, Justin Balboa, was shoved to the side seemingly at random by Schilling while the fighter was passing by, sparking a verbal altercation between the two. After what has been called a “feint” or “fake” by Balboa, Schilling let loose a combo that knocked Balboa, clearly outmatched against a professional fighter, out cold.

Balboa, who also sued the eatery, had been seeking $30,000 in damages. However, per a new report by MMA Fighting, Schilling’s legal team successfully used Florida’s “stand your ground” law, with the judge overseeing the case ruling that the veteran fighter “reasonably believed” Balboa “posed a threat of great bodily harm to himself.”

Additionally, the judge added that “The court further finds that Schilling used only such force necessary to neutralize the threat, and is therefore entitled to immunity.“

Per Schilling’s lawyer, Balboa is expected to appeal — but it seems that Schilling’s team doesn’t expect that to go any better.  They labelled the ruling “a complete and total victory for Schilling, who was widely criticized in social media after this incident occurred.”

Katz also suggested the Schilling intends to go after Balboa for the legal expenses he incurred defending himself from the matter. “Balboa now stands liable for all of Schilling’s costs and fees for defending this lawsuit, including the trips he had to make from California and the hiring of investigators and experts.”

Schilling, 39, has not competed since a 2019 loss under the Bellator MMA banner against Tony Johnson. “Stitch ’em Up” is a multi-time WBC Muay Thai champion and the 2013 GLORY middleweight tournament champion.