Titans not liable for Vegas actions of Pacman
By: By KEN RITTER, Associated Press Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge dropped the NFL’s Tennessee Titans from a lawsuit by a strip club employee who was paralyzed in a triple shooting following a melee involving suspended player Adam “Pacman” Jones.
Clark County District Court Judge Jessie Walsh agreed with team lawyers who contended the Titans didn’t do business in Nevada and couldn’t be held responsible for Jones’ behavior at the Minxx Gentleman’s Club last Feb. 19.
“I think what’s happened to Mr. Urbanski is incredibly unfortunate, and we haven’t lost sight of that,” Walsh said Wednesday, with wounded club manager Tommy Urbanski sitting in a wheelchair before her.
“This litigation, however, has nothing to do with the Tennessee Titans.”
Two Las Vegas lawyers representing the NFL who sat through the hearing said they intend to file a similar request next week asking the judge to also drop the league from the case.
“It’s a tragic incident,” said Paul Eisinger, a lawyer for the league, “but there’s no legal or viable cause of action against the NFL.”
The lawsuit filed Oct. 19 seeks unspecified damages from Jones, the NFL, the Titans and the owners of Harlem Knights, a Houston strip club that rented the Las Vegas club for the party the night of the shooting, during NBA All-Star weekend last year.
Lawyers for Jones and for the Harlem Knights and its representative, Chris Mitchell of Texas, did not attend Wednesday’s hearing and declined comment when contacted by telephone.
Urbanski, who said he felt the Titans and the league “created a monster” by failing to discipline Jones for several run-ins with police in other cities before the Las Vegas strip club shooting, said he was disappointed in the judge’s decision.
His lawyer, Matthew Dushoff, said he’ll seek a rehearing.
Walsh rejected Dushoff’s claims that the Titans failed to properly supervise Jones and that the league and team do enough commercial business in Nevada to be held accountable in Nevada courts.
Dushoff pointed to a computer displaying an Internet Web site on which the Titans sell game tickets, merchandise and fan club memberships in every state.
He argued Jones would not have been invited to the club if he was not on the team.
“The NFL is all (over) the country,” Dushoff said. “They have fans everywhere that they market to, not just the state of Tennessee.”
Titans lawyer Nathaniel Hannaford called it “preposterous” to claim Jones’ activity at a strip club in Las Vegas at 4:30 a.m. during the NFL offseason was to benefit the team.
He noted the team was a Delaware corporation that does business in Tennessee with no business ties, office, property, employees or phone number in Nevada.
“For all practical purposes, it is not located in the state of Nevada,” Hannaford said.
The civil suit still names Jones, who pleaded no contest Dec. 6 to a reduced charge of conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct, a gross misdemeanor, in the brawl inside the club.
Jones has been promised a sentence of one year of probation, and has agreed to testify about what he knew about the shooting outside. His lawyer, Robert Langford, has declined to say if Jones knew the identity of the gunman.
Witnesses told authorities that Jones grabbed money from a large plastic trash bag and showered strippers on stage with cash in an act known as “making it rain.” A melee ensued inside, and shots were fired later outside the club. Urbanski, a club bouncer and a female patron were wounded.
No one has been charged in the shooting, but police called Jones an “inciter” of the fighting inside. Prosecutors have said they hope Jones can provide information leading to the arrest of the gunman.
Jones was suspended for the 2007 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after having been arrested six times since he was drafted.