Published Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012 | 6:03 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012 | 11:30 a.m.
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The Nevada Supreme Court has ordered the National Football League to enter into settlement talks with a paralyzed strip club bouncer and his wife who together won about $13 million in connection with a 2007 shooting/melee at a Las Vegas strip club involving pro football cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones.
A Clark County jury ruled in June that Jones would have to pay Tommy Urbanski, a club manager who was paralyzed from the waist down, $12,059,856.69 (which includes interest), and his wife, Kathy Urbanski, $943,596.99 in damages.
Matthew Dushoff, the Urbanskis' attorney, said the Urbanskis are now appealing to the Supreme Court to reinstate the NFL into the lawsuit as a defendant so they can also seek a separate claim against the league. Dushoff said the Urbanskis have not specified the amount they are seeking from the NFL.
Dushoff said the Supreme Court was ordering one of the NFL's decision-makers, such as Commissioner Roger Goodell, to participate in a settlement conference before it would go to the high court.
"The NFL got dismissed out of the case early because the district court said they don't have enough minimum contacts with the state of Nevada to be brought to court in Nevada," Dushoff said.
Dushoff said he and his clients don't agree with the lower-court decision "because we think the National Football League has a lot of contacts with Nevada."
Those include the contracts the NFL has with Cox Communications and Direct TV, which provide NFL programming to their TV subscribers, "not to mention you can't go into any retail store without seeing an NFL product."
The attorney said the Urbanskis were seeking damages against the NFL for negligent retention and hiring of Jones.
He said the NFL knew that Jones got in trouble about 11 times previously to the 2007 incident in Las Vegas and the NFL has said Jones' suspension was because of those earlier incidents.
"They didn't suspend him for the incident at the Minxx (strip club), which put Tommy in a wheelchair for the rest of his life," Dushoff said. "They suspended him for the 11 or so prior incidents that he had."
Jones, was suspended for the entire 2007 season and part of the 2008 season.
Dushoff said if the NFL had suspended Jones earlier, it could have save Urbanski from the injuries he received.
The case has been assigned to the high court's settlement program, with Ara H. Shirinian named as the settlement judge. The parties are expected to meet within the next 30 days. A final report is expected by Feb. 25, 2013.
The case stems from a highly publicized February 2007 shooting after a strip club brawl on NBA All-Star weekend.
According to police, Jones, then a member of the Tennessee Titans, instigated a melee that led to shootings on Feb. 19, 2007, outside the Minxx Gentlemen's Club and Lounge, 4636 Wynn Road.
The incident took place during a wild and controversial NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas, which resulted in 403 arrests, mostly for violence and prostitution, and led many Strip employees to feel intimidated by a rough-and-tumble crowd who came for the game.
At Minxx, Jones was throwing wads of dollar bills from a large plastic trash bag onto a stage, or “making it rain.” He became angry when the strippers picked up the money and a brawl broke out, police said.
Officers said Jones then met with Arvin Kenti Edwards, 33, of Renton, Wash. Moments after they parted, Edwards opened fire with a handgun outside the club.
Three people were injured, including Urbanski, who was paralyzed from the waist down after a bullet lodged in his spine.
Police said Edwards hounded Jones for $15,000 after the shooting.
Jones told authorities he didn't order the shooting and declined to pay. But Jones said he reimbursed a friend who paid the money for him because he was worried Edwards would pursue him if he wasn’t paid.
Although Jones denied having a role in the shooting, he pleaded the equivalent to a no-contest to misdemeanor conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct. Jones received a 12-month suspended sentence but was granted probation.
Edwards is serving four to 10 years in prison for his Alford plea to attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon. The plea is not an admission of guilt, but it acknowledges that prosecutors could have proven the case against him.
Edwards could have faced as many as 186 years in prison if convicted of all seven felony charges initially filed against him after the shooting.
The Cincinnati Bengals re-signed Jones in March for a third season. His one-year contract is reportedly worth $950,000, including incentives.
Jones’ attorney, Lisa Rasmussen, has said Jones’ salary would be distributed in 16 checks throughout the season and he only collects if he is healthy enough to play.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story did not not have the full amount, including interest, of the damages the jury awarded against Jones. The story also incorrectly reported the Urbanskis were trying to get the NFL to pay the damages assigned to Jones. The Urbanskis' claim against the NFL is separate. | (August 30, 2012)