That lawsuit filed against the Cowboys claims as a factual matter that the team and the local police conspired to conceal the severity of an automobile accident involving running back Ezekiel Elliott, days before a playoff game against the Packers in January 2017. But the lawsuit itself makes no legal claims arising from those contentions.
As it turns out, based on the document posted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Cowboys are named because the plaintiff alleges that the Cowboys owned the vehicle that Elliott was driving, and that they negligently entrusted the car to him when the Cowboys knew or should have known that he’s a negligent or reckless driver.
It’s otherwise a garden-variety personal injury case, one that should have been resolved by now, given that the police report indicates Elliott admitted that he “accidentally” ran a red light, causing the crash. His insurance carrier (Allstate, based on the police report) would have/should have been attempting to resolve the case. Given that the plaintiff is also an Allstate customer (based again on the police report), those efforts surely occurred.
Apparently, the two sides have been unable to reach an acceptable deal.
As to the question of whether the lawsuit was filed within the relevant statute of limitations (the July 30, 2019 filing comes months after the two-year anniversary of the crash), the document is called an “amended petition.” This indicates that the lawsuit already was filed, presumably within the two-year period for doing so.
Regarding the claim that the Cowboys owned the vehicle, the amended petition makes the claim based on the inherently fuzzy concept of “information and belief,” which gives lawyers cover to make accusations that could end up being not entirely true. The police report lists Elliott as the owner of the car; it’s possible that the plaintiff’s lawyer has become aware of something that created at a minimum suspicion that the Cowboys actually own the car.
If they do, it raises a potential question for the league to explore. Free use of a car becomes a tangible benefit that would need to be accounted for under the salary cap; failure to do so could set the team up for league scrutiny — especially if it turns out that this wasn’t an aberration but that it’s part of a broader trend.
That’s all speculation at this point. For now, though, something happened to make the lawyer representing the plaintiff believe that the Cowboys own the vehicle that Elliott was driving.