NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson and Tigers linebacker Josh Johns are being sued by four men who claim they were injured in a brawl outside a bar near campus last summer.
The lawsuit filed in civil district court in East Baton Rouge Parish also seeks damages from the owner of Shady’s Bar, which the lawsuit claims was negligent for failing to have enough security to prevent the melee.
Lance Unglesby, who is one of Jefferson’s attorneys, says the timing of the lawsuit, shortly after Jefferson received a pro tryout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, proves that the matter was always about money.
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“We’ve said from Day One this was money driven. This is nothing more than somebody with their hand out making a meritless claim against a fine young man,” Unglesby said. “
A grand jury declined to indict Johns, while Jefferson was indicted on a misdemeanor charge. Both players were reinstated to the team last season, and Jefferson started in LSU’s BCS national championship game loss to Alabama.
Johns’ lawyer, Thomas Damico, says his client was misidentified and that the claims against him are frivolous.
“The grand jury didn’t find (Johns) involved at all and they had a lower burden of proof than a civil suit,” Damico said. “They have no grounds whatsoever to even suggest he was involved in an altercation.”
However, attorney Michael Bienvenu, who represents the plaintiffs, brushed off defense lawyers’ criticism of his case.
“That’s what you do when you don’t have a case; you try it in the press,” Bienvenu said. “We will try our case in court and we are very confident in the facts as alleged in the petition. There’s not a fact alleged in that lawsuit that I don’t have evidence to support.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Andrew Lowery, Cayne Cox, Eric Ewen and Jordan Wills.
The complaint states that Ewing was left with three fractured vertebrae, a herniated disk, fractured teeth, and severe cuts to his head, face and body.
Lowery had a fractured facial bone, fractured teeth, a herniated disk, and cuts and bruises, the lawsuit said.
Wills and Cox and numerous severe cuts and bruises to their heads, faces and bodies, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit alleges that Jefferson and Johns are liable for injuries to Lowery, who claims he knew the two football players, and that they beat and kicked him about the head and body after an exchange of words. The lawsuit said Lowery did not know the other three plaintiffs at the time of the brawl and was simply trying to help one of them, who allegedly was beaten unconscious by several people “including several LSU football players.”
All four plaintiffs are seeking damages from the bar, accused of failing to provide adequate security to prevent people from being severely beaten by bar patrons in the parking lot.
Bienvenu added that he expects the discovery phase of the lawsuit, during which information is gathered from the opposing parties and independent witnesses, to yield the identities of more potential defendants in the case beyond Jefferson and Johns.
Witnesses including those interviewed by The Associated Press have said numerous LSU players were at the bar during the early morning hours of Aug. 19, when the brawl broke out. That was also the last night of fall camp, a time when LSU players have traditionally broken curfew and celebrated together.
However, Jefferson and Johns were the only ones booked by Baton Rouge police, whose investigation included the seizure of evidence from the players’ apartments and DNA tests which were inconclusive.