The North Carolina Court of Appeals has overturned a civil judgment ordering rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs (search) to pay $450,000 to a man who claimed he was beaten by bodyguards the rapper had hired.

The ruling came Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by Cedrick Bobby Lemon, who said he was beaten in June 1995 by bodyguards Combs hired to protect soul singer Mary J. Blige (search) at a concert in Winston-Salem. Combs was Blige's manager.

Because Combs didn't respond to the complaint within the time required by law, a Forsyth County Superior Court judge ruled in Lemon's favor and ordered a default judgment against Combs. But the appeals court found that Lemon didn't meet other requirements when he requested the default judgment and overturned it.

According to Lemon's lawsuit, he worked as a limousine driver and wore an identification badge that permitted him to stand backstage.

As two bodyguards tried to clear the area to escort Blige from the coliseum after the concert, they punched Lemon in the head, kicked him in the back and broke his right ankle, according to the lawsuit.

Combs was negligent because he failed to train the bodyguards properly for their duties, the lawsuit said.

Lemon's attorney, Howard C. Jones, told the Winston-Salem Journal that his client hasn't decided whether to appeal the decision. He had medical bills of $14,400, the lawsuit says and the attack left him unable to work as a limo driver.