Adam Jones’ Las Vegas legal mess is complex, unresolved


The typical civil lawsuit works this way:  (1) the plaintiff sues the defendant; (2) if the case doesn’t settle and the plaintiff wins at trial, the plaintiff obtains a judgment; (3) if the defendant doesn’t pay the judgment voluntarily, the plaintiff must then chase the defendant to get the money.

The recent New York Daily News article regarding Bengals cornerback Adam Jones’ lingering legal morass creates the impression that the case against Jones is following that basic linear path.  Jones was sued by Tommy Urbanski after the notorious “make it rain” incident from early 2007 that left Urbanski paralyzed, Urbanski secured a $13.4 million judgment against Jones, and Urbanski has now filed paperwork in Ohio to seize a portion of Jones’ football salary to satisfy part of the debt.

From Jones’ perspective, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Jones’ agent, Peter Schaffer, explains that the judgment against Jones isn’t even final yet, with legal issues pending on appeal in Nevada.  One of the biggest questions, according to Schaffer, is whether Nevada law recognizes a claim for “negligent infliction of emotional distress” without an underlying assault or battery.

In English, this means that there’s a question as to whether Jones legally can be responsible to Urbanski when Jones didn’t shoot Urbanski or otherwise have any physical contact with him.  That issue, Schaffer explained, needs to be resolved by the Nevada Supreme Court.

The broader question is whether Jones can be held fully responsible for the $13.4 million judgment when multiple other defendants (including the shooter) also have been found liable to Urbanski.  This gets into notions of “joint and several liability,” an area of the law that typically arises when, for example, one defendant who was primarily responsible for someone’s injuries has little or no money to pay a judgment and another defendant with limited culpability but greater financial resources is asked to pay the entire judgment.

The problem for Jones is that, in this case, he’s got the closest thing to a “deep pocket.”  Though Jones will never be able to fork over the full amount (absent a Powerball jackpot or his own eight-figure lawsuit), Urbanski can try to get at Jones’ assets in order to partially satisfy the debt.  Urbanski is doing that by attempting to obtain a piece of Jones’ paycheck from the Bengals.

In Ohio, however, the maximum wage garnishment is 25 percent for all creditors.  With Urbanski getting in line behind other creditors (including the IRS) and with the judgment against Jones, according to Schaffer, not finalized, Urbanski likely will continue to wait for compensation from the shooting.

Of course, if Jones weren’t at least partially liable, Urbanski would be left with claims against various defendants who are what lawyers call “judgment proof.”  In this case, the fact that one of the responsible parties plays in the NFL gives Urbanski a path for obtaining partial satisfaction of the judgment.

Schaffer also said that he has been trying to work out a settlement with Urbanski’s lawyers, given that the case is unresolved and that Jones most likely will never be able to pay the full amount.  In an apparent effort to put pressure on Jones, Urbanski’s lawyers have leaked portions of emails containing settlement negotiations to the media.  That could make it harder as a practical matter to strike a deal, since it creates issues of mistrust between the lawyers.

Absent a settlement, it appears that the situation still has a long way to go before it will be resolved.

18 responses to “Adam Jones’ Las Vegas legal mess is complex, unresolved

  1. When was the last time Cincinnatii won a playoff game? 1990? LOL?

    There is a reason why.

  2. You seem to be taking the word of the AGENT for a jerk at his word. Have you considered talking to both sides, checking the actual status of the case in Nevada, etc.?

    One item of note–For a second, let’s believe that Jones’ agent is telling the truth (yeah, right). Given that Ohio is “first come, first served” when it comes to garnishments, this filing by Urbanski’s lawyers determines his “place in line” when it comes to garnishing Jones’ wages, if nothing else. Apparently, the IRS is first in line, but it could help Urbanski collect something down the road IF he files now.

  3. And, if Jone’s ultimately loses on appeal he will be instructed to file bankruptcy at which time the judgment will be extinguished since there are clearly no viable fraud claims that might be non-dischargeable.

    I sure hate it for the Plaintiff, his family and the taxpayers paying his medical expenses. Just one more reason why going to a strip club is never a really good idea regardless of who shows up there.

  4. I’m glad this finally came out. Jones did not shoot this guy. He was just the wealthiest guy in the vacinity when the shooting happened so this clown is doing a money grab at him. Sorry he’s paralyzed and all but it’s not Jones’ fault. Go after the idiot that shot you man.

  5. I’d like to know how Nelly and Jermaine Dupri (sp?) got away scot-free on this. It seems as though those who blame the whole incident on the “rain-making” then place blame solely on AJ for allegedly starting the “rain-making.” However, it’s not oft publicized, but it has been stated (and, I believe, shown) Nelly and Jermaine Dupri are the ones who initiated the whole exchange.

  6. So in other words, Pacman’s lawyer will be getting that 13.4 million fighting this for years.

  7. Adam Jones is no chior boy but WOW really go after the guy with the “biggest pockets” how about the guy that “shot” you. American greed can always be counted on.

  8. There is an odd caveat in bankruptcy laws that state you cannot wipe out a debt that is a liability judgement against you for acts you committed while intoxicated.

  9. Mike, from one WV-ian to another, go ahead and do away with the comments. They are getting muddied down now that you’re popular.

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