A lawyer for NFL player Adam “Pacman” Jones asked the Nevada Supreme Court to throw out an $11 million verdict against the defensive back for his role in a Las Vegas strip club shooting that injured two men, one of whom was paralyzed.
“This is an impossible verdict that cannot stand,” Jones’ lawyer, Lisa Rasmussen, told the high court Tuesday.
Meanwhile, an attorney for Tommy Urbanski, the paralyzed victim in the 2007 shooting at now-closed Minxx, argued that the NFL should have been part of the case. A District Court judge erred in not allowing for jurisdiction over the league, the lawyer said.
“I find it quite ironic that we’re talking about jurisdiction with the National Football League,” said Urbanski’s lawyer Matthew Dushoff, emphasizing the word national. “If not the NFL, then who?”
Two years ago, a Clark County civil court jury awarded Urbanski and his wife, Kathleen, about $10 million. Aaron Cudworth, another bouncer at the strip club who was also shot, was awarded about $1.5 million.
In a criminal case, Jones pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct and was sentenced to a year of probation for his role in the February 2007 incident.
Arvin Edwards, the shooter who authorities say tried to extort money from Jones for “services rendered,” took a plea deal and was sentenced to four to 10 years in prison for one count of attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon.
Authorities said Jones sparked the fracas at the strip club after he showered strippers with hundreds of dollar bills as they danced. Jones and his entourage were kicked out of the club. Gunfire erupted minutes later.
After the shooting, Jones was suspended from the NFL for a year. Last year, Jones signed a reported 3-year, $5.35 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The NFL controls scheduling, uniforms, merchandising, television contracts, personal conduct policies and suspensions, Dushoff argued. Because the NFL has its own network, which airs in Nevada, and sells tickets and merchandise online, a Nevada court should have jurisdiction over the league.
The now-31-year-old cornerback should have been under the NFL’s watch when he was in Las Vegas for the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, Dushoff told the court.
Justice Michael Douglas asked whether Jones was promoting the NFL at the time and when a player would still be considered “on the clock.”
“You’re always on the clock in the NFL,” Dushoff responded. “That’s not my terms, that’s the NFL.”
He pointed to recent criminal allegations against running backs Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, where the league sought to suspend the players.
“The NFL is a different breed, and they have treated it as such,” Dushoff said.
But an NFL lawyer argued that the league should not be responsible because the shooting occurred in the offseason at 4:30 a.m. at a Las Vegas strip club.
Just because the NFL is broadcast in Nevada, doesn’t mean it has a physical presence in the state, Philip Goodhart said. The NFL’s home is in New York, he argued.
“It is undisputed that Mr. Jones did not notify the NFL of his actions. He was on his own time,” Goodhart said. “He did not convey any of this to the National Football League.”
Dushoff pointed out that Jones had several other encounters with authorities before the shooting, and that he was not suspended from the NFL until after the incident in Las Vegas.
Rasmussen said that the civil case should be tried again because the jury did not find Jones responsible for pulling the trigger.
Richard Schonfeld, a lawyer for Cudworth, the intended target in the shooting, said Jones threatened Cudworth and orchestrated the shooting, and reading deeper into the jury award would amount to speculation.
“A court cannot overturn a jury’s verdict based on speculation,” Schonfeld said.
Dushoff added: “When the verdict came down, everyone in the courtroom knew that Jones was responsible for having Aaron Cudworth and Thomas Urbanski shot.”
Contact reporter David Ferrara at email@example.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker