|Lawsuit naming Jones, NFL and Titans likely won't ease suspension|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 20 October 2007 00:32|
A month away from asking NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to review his season-long suspension from the league, Jones is a defendant in a lawsuit brought by a man shot and paralyzed after a Las Vegas club fight police accuse the cornerback of starting.
Among his co-defendants? The NFL and his bosses, the Titans.
A professor of labor employment law predicts the NFL and the Titans likely will file motions as soon as possible asking to be removed from the case.
Tommy Urbanski seeks unspecified damages in his lawsuit filed Friday in Clark County District Court. He also names the owners of a Houston strip club that rented the Minxx Gentleman's Club in Las Vegas in February for a party the weekend of the NBA All-Star game.
``One sympathizes with a seriously injured plaintiff who's looking for defendant with deep pockets, a defendant that could, in fact, afford the damages award in the event that there is one,'' Vanderbilt University professor Bob Covington said. ``After all, Pacman Jones has a lot of legal problems at the moment, and his assets are likely to be depleted somewhat over the next few months.''
Goodell suspended Jones in April for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy with behavior that included five arrests. He was arrested a sixth time in June.
Goodell will review the troubled cornerback's case after the Titans' 10th game, which will be played Nov. 19 in Denver.
Las Vegas police have charged Jones with two felonies in the February shooting. They allege he incited a fight by throwing cash on stage - an act called ``making it rain'' - then becoming enraged when two dancers fought for the money. They say Jones threatened to kill people inside the club minutes before the shooting outside. No one has been charged in the shooting.
Now he can only hope having the NFL tied into a lawsuit with him doesn't hurt his chances of early reinstatement.
``We have great sympathy for Tommy and Kathy, but we strongly disagree with any claims against the NFL and the Titans and will respond appropriately to the court,'' NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
The Titans' statement was similarly brief.
``We're sorry for Mr. Urbanski's condition and all that he and his family have been through. Our full response will come in court, but we will vigorously dispute the claims that have been brought against us today,'' the Titans said.
Jones' attorney, Robert Langford, denied the troubled cornerback had any responsibility for the man's injuries, and called seeking damages from the player, the NFL and the Titans ``a 'Hail Mary' pass.''
``From my heart, I feel bad for this guy and his family,'' Langford told The Associated Press. ``But Pacman Jones is not the shooter. No one has said that he is. There's not one bit of evidence to link him to Mr. Urbanski's injury.''
Langford said that if Jones offered to help Urbanski, ``someone would say he had something to do with his injury and we were admitting liability.''
``So we're stuck in a situation where we express our sympathy and go to court,'' he said.
Urbanski was shot four times and left paralyzed from the waist down on Feb. 19. He believes the NFL is responsible because it ignored Jones' previous run-ins with police.
``Even, 'three strikes and you're out,' and this wouldn't have happened to me,'' Urbanski said at a news conference Friday in Henderson with his schoolteacher wife.
The former professional wrestler spent several months rehabilitating at a Denver hospital before moving in August to a hotel in Henderson because his house has not been outfitted to accommodate a wheelchair.
``The fact that the NFL and the Titans did not punish Adam 'Pacman' Jones until after Tommy was paralyzed is a proximate cause of Tommy's injuries,'' Urbanski's attorney, Matthew Dushoff said.
Law professor Covington said an employer usually is liable for an employee while that employee is working or while the employee is at a location controlled by the employer. Jones, who was the sixth pick overall in April 2005, was on a personal trip during the NFL's offseason when the shooting occurred.
Kathy England, an employment law attorney in Nevada, said that state's laws could limit Urbanski's attempts to link the case to the NFL and the Titans. Nevada law protects employers from injury caused by an employee's intentional conduct if the employee is on his own time, she said.
But Dushoff said Jones would not have been invited to the club if not for his status as an NFL player.
``We've done our homework on this,'' he said.
Urbanski's lawsuit alleges assault, battery, emotional distress, conspiracy and negligence, and claims Urbanski's injuries were caused by the actions of Jones and unnamed others ``within the scope of their employment'' with the NFL and the Titans.
It says Harlem Knights invited Jones to the club and gave him VIP treatment ``because Jones is a prominent NFL football player.''
Jones also is named in two other lawsuits by people shot at the club. Minxx club bouncer Aaron Cudworth is suing Jones and people identified as members of Jones' entourage, while patron Natalie Jones names Jones and Harlem Nights in her lawsuit.
Associated Press writers Ken Ritter and Kathleen Hennessey in Las Vegas contributed to this report.