NFL team dropped from paraplegic’s lawsuit

A district judge ruled Wednesday that the Tennessee Titans can’t be held liable for whatever role one of the team’s players had in the shooting last year at a Las Vegas strip club that left a man paralyzed from the waist down.

District Judge Jessie Walsh agreed with attorneys for the National Football League team that the court has no jurisdiction over the Tennessee Titans and dropped them from a civil suit brought by Tommy Urbanski, the Minxx bouncer who lost the use of his legs and spent more than six months either hospitalized or in a rehabilitation center.

"I think what’s happened to Mr. Urbanski is incredibly unfortunate, and I haven’t lost sight of that fact. This litigation, however, has nothing to do with the Tennessee Titans," she said.

Immediately before the Feb. 19 shooting, Titans member Adam "Pacman" Jones was involved in a fight in the club, authorities allege. Some people at the club allege that the gunman had been seen with Jones before the shooting.

In October, Urbanski filed a lawsuit against Jones, the Titans and the NFL alleging that all were responsible for his injuries.

Urbanski’s lawyer said the NFL and the Titans knew about Jones’ prior run-ins with the law but had failed to properly discipline him. If they had, he would have been less likely to have been involved in the violence at Minxx, Urbanski’s side has said.

Jones has been involved in 10 incidents in which he was interviewed by police, including a charge of public intoxication and disorderly conduct stemming from an August 2006 arrest in the Nashville suburb of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and an accusation that he bit the hand of a Fayetteville police officer in February 2006 in Georgia.

In April, the NFL suspended Jones for the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

Urbanski, speaking from his wheelchair after the hearing, said it appeared that Walsh had made up her mind in the case before Wednesday’s hearing.

"Obviously, I’m very disappointed. But we’re not going to let it go. We feel like we’re in the right," Urbanski said.

His lawyers said they will seek a rehearing and will file an appeal on Walsh’s decision if necessary. "One of the things a good lawyer does is explore all the evidence, especially when somebody has been hurt as badly as Tommy (Urbanski)," said Michael Haight, one of Urbanski’s attorneys.

Craig Breitman, a Los Angeles-based attorney for the Titans, said, "I’m pleased that the court accepted our arguments and found that jurisdiction over the Titans would be improper here in Nevada."

During the hearing, another lawyer representing Urbanski, Matthew Dushoff, argued that the court had jurisdiction over the Titans because, among other things, they operate an interactive Web site that allows the team to sell merchandise in Las Vegas.

He said the team’s arguments against the case weren’t valid. "The Tennessee Titans are attempting some type of Hail Mary pass. The problem is they’re doing it on the first play of the game," he said.

The Associated Press reported that lawyers for the NFL intend to file a similar request next week for the judge to drop the league from the case.

Jones pleaded no contest in December to one count of conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct, a gross misdemeanor, and received a one-year suspended sentence. He also must complete 200 hours of community service, submit to random drug testing and attend anger management classes.

In exchange for his plea, Jones agreed to testify against the person accused of being responsible for shooting Urbanski and two others at the club. No one has been charged with firing the shots, however, and if authorities have been given the gunman’s name, it has not been made public.

Urbanski, who has been living with his wife in a hotel since Aug. 25 while their house is made wheelchair accessible, said if he could speak to Jones, he would implore him to identify the shooter. Urbanski said he would tell him: "Be a man. Give us who the shooter is."

Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara@ or (702) 380-1039.

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