OSU's Jaamal Berry Sued for Assault

Submitted by Zone Left on October 28th, 2011 at 11:54 AM

OSU's Jamal Berry is being sued by a Columbus man for an unprovoked assault last week. 

The lawsuit, filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, accuses Berry of an unprovoked attack in which the 21-year-old man suffered injuries to his head, face, neck, back and hand that required immediate medical treatment. He is likely to incur additional medical expenses in the future, the lawsuit says.

Luke Fickell and OSU have summarily dismissed him from the team after his second assault allegation in two months. Of course by that I mean OSU is going to let him play tomorrow against Wisconsin:


“The legal process is going to take its time, and we’re going to go with that,” he said. “That’s all we can do as a team and a program right now. Legal issues-wise, we’ve got nothing from the prosecutor.

“Like I said Tuesday, we take everything we do seriously, whether it’s on the field or off the field. Nothing goes unnoticed. Ultimately, we’re working at what’s best for this program, for this team — whether it’s a coach or a player. Those things are taken very seriously.”

As for Berry’s status on Saturday against Wisconsin, Fickell said, “We’ll see. There are still things going on, but there’s no change right now.”


There's something not right about him. Hopefully he is able to figure out what that is.



October 28th, 2011 at 12:01 PM ^

Wait a second.  I heard Fickell on the radio here yesterday in Cleveland say "if he's charged - he's off the team".  Did your quote come out today?  If so, he's done a major 180.

Of course being sued is not the same as being charged. 

Section 1

October 28th, 2011 at 12:08 PM ^

From The Lantern, the OSU newspaper:

Jerry Emig, assistant director of athletics communication, said the athletic department is aware of the lawsuit.

"It is our understanding that a civil lawsuit will be filed against Jaamal today," Emig said. "This is not a criminal charge. If he is charged with committing a criminal offense, he will be suspended from the team." 

If every player in the Conference who was sued civilly got suspended, we'd be looking for a new linebacker to replace Kenny Demens.


October 28th, 2011 at 12:16 PM ^

I hear what you're saying about civil lawsuits, but being sued for back rent is drastically different for being sued for assault/battery.  Given, not paying bills when they come due is either a sign of financial troubles or irresponsibility, but being sued for beating the sh-t out of someone is a serious character issue.  I submit that the latter is akin to being crimially prosecuted.


October 28th, 2011 at 12:27 PM ^

I can sue you today for assault, even if we've never met. Just because I sue doesn't mean my claim has validity. On the other hand, prosecutors have a higher standard, and different processes, for bringing criminal charges. (Yes, attorneys have a standard, but it isn't the same, and I can sue without hiring an attorney.) A prosecutor has to bring an "Information" or have a grand jury before bringing a charge--no such requirement in civil actions. In addition, civil claims are won if you show greater than a 50/50 chance of being right. Criminal prosecutions require "beyond a reasonable doubt," so the calculus of when to bring a charge vs. a claim is different. If a player always got thrown off for having a civil claim, we'd have a new strategy for the week before TSiO. In the end, the difference between civil and criminal is huge.


October 28th, 2011 at 12:44 PM ^

First, it IS true that you could file a lawsuit against just about anyone for just about anything.  However, I doubt you're going to do it when its going to cost you money.  The plaintiff is obviously serious - he's paid the filing fees and hired a lawyer.  There has to be something there (even if de minimis).  Second, DAs do NOT have to satisfy the "beyond a reasonable doubt" to prosecute a suspect.  That is the standard that juries use for convictions.  DAs simply need a victim or witness (usually a cop) that is pressing charges.  True, a conviction cannot be handed down without the reasonable doubt standard being satisfied.  However, we're talking about Barry being kicked off the team if charges are brought, not if he is convicted.

You're blurring the issue - its not about civil vs. criminal.  Its about civil cases where bodily injury is concerned vs. criminal actions.

Section 1

October 28th, 2011 at 1:10 PM ^

I don't think that your "bodily injury" distinction is the best.  You would have been better off arguing that while there is of course a stark difference between civil and criminal actions, the big thing is that the (civil) accusations against Berry would rise to the level of a Class 3 felony, whereas three months' rent would not.

But even that argument just gets into too much legal finery.  I still like my bringing Demens' rent case into it, because it was the kind of example that obviously made people sit up and take notice.  I was provoking critical, if somewhat defensive, thinking.


October 28th, 2011 at 1:25 PM ^

I acknowledge that you are a lawyer and I am not, but I am not really sure it is akin to criminal prosecution.  I would think that there are countless occurances of someone filing civil suit against public figures such as athletes when there was not enough evidence or even cause to warrant a criminal case.  That guys could have walked up, started the whole thing, got his ass kicked, and then sued the kid because there is always a lawyer out there shady enough to take the case just because the defendant is well known enough to get him some publicity (no offense).  I tend to side with the kid if there is no criminal charges.

Zone Left

October 28th, 2011 at 12:08 PM ^

This article didn't say that. However, he's got one substantiated assault in the last month and we all know being charged is different from having done something.

I'm very in favor of second chances for kids, but multiple assaults are really, really bad news. Like I said, there's something not right there.


October 28th, 2011 at 12:09 PM ^

This is a civil complaint, not criminal.  Anyone can allege anything in a civil complaint.  I can sue the state of Michigan for $1,000,000,332,221.00 for planting a microchip in my head.  It will eventually be dismissed, but I can still file the complaint and make the state of Michigan respond.  Same thing with this guy, we have no idea if the facts he alleges are even a remote approximation of the truth.  If Fickell suspended this kid, it would set the precedent that any dipshit who didn't want a CFB player to play in a big game against his team would just have to file a civil suit, with bare allegations against that player.

Deep Under Cover

October 28th, 2011 at 12:28 PM ^

This case is the exception though.  There is an independent witness who has made a statement to the police that Berry admitted to the assault.  This is also the second instance of a Jamaal Berry assult and lawsuit.

I agree with what you say about setting precedent, but there is always exceptions and I think this is one.

Section 1

October 28th, 2011 at 1:05 PM ^

Berry, as of the writing of this OP has NOT been charged criminally by Franklin County prosecutors.  The matter is under criminal investigation.

So when you say :"He's being charged," I think that what you meant to say was, "Oh, wait, I get it; he hasn't been charged yet and when I said 'He's being charged,' I was 180 degrees wrong and of course that reverses the entire meaning of everything I intended to write."


October 28th, 2011 at 1:24 PM ^

Nice 13 year old texting there.  No, I meant to write what I wrote.  But thanks for trying.  You get an A for effort.


And really, isn't getting sued just as bad?  Now, as a member of the OSU football team, he gets to go through a nice court battle for beating this guy up.  And if he loses the lawsuit, then he's guilty of assault, therefore he'll be charged.


Thinking is healthy.  Try doing it before you bash a person who posts. 

Section 1

October 28th, 2011 at 3:22 PM ^

"Getting sued" (civilly) is qualitatively different from "being prosecuted."  So, to answer your (frankly pretty crummy) question: No, getting sued isn't "just as bad."

And if Berry loses the civil lawsuit, he's NOT "guilty of assault.  He is not, under the civil law, charged with the crime of assault, and the jury won't be instructed on the guilt beyond reasonable doubt standard.

If Berry loses the civil suit, he will be LIABLE for DAMAGES, not GUILTY of a CRIME.

The result of a civil lawsuit will not form a predicate for criminal prosecution; you are wrong about that one too.  Indeed, a civil action in which there is an ongoing criminal case and a possible prosecution will often be stayed pending the outcome of criminal charges.

Now don't make me come back here and explain this to you again.

Is 1983 (in your screen name) the year that you were born?  If so, it would be a coincidence, since that is the year that I took Second-year Criminal Procedure in law school.


October 28th, 2011 at 7:34 PM ^

Not that I disagree with your sentiment in this discussion, but I often wish you could read your comments through someone else's eyes. You come off like such a pompous, arrogant, and condescending douche that it literally makes me sick to my stomach. FWIW, I was born in 1982 and don't give a shit what you were doing in 1983.


October 28th, 2011 at 12:01 PM ^

Does Fickell even have the authority to dismiss someone? It certainly doesn't seem like he does. If I was an OSU fan (shudder) I would be pissed that 4-5 of these kids are still on the roster.

If he does have that authoritah and doesn't use it, I sense a coordinator position under Dantonio within the year.

Benoit Balls

October 28th, 2011 at 12:32 PM ^

on Sunday I was all over Clevalnd and had the radio on in my truck all day. I was tuned into the AM sports radio station in Cleveland and Dustin Fox is one of the hosts on that station (he was formerly a Safety at OSU under Tressel). Fox said that if Fickell "Was allowed to do things his way" guys like Posey and Herron would have been booted from the team in the spring. Fox continued on to say that decisions were made by Gene Smith to keep these players on the team, because (and this is purely Fox's opinion as far as I can tell) Smith is fearful of losing his job, and he thinks the best way to save his job is for the team to win as much as possible, so that Smith can be around to hire the next coach, since everyone knows it will not be Fickell.

Again, I heard this on the radio so I cannot vouch for its veracity, but since Fox is an OSU alum, I'm guessing it's probably not that far off. (Also it should be pointed out that Fox apparently thinks Smith should be fired, and Fickell should be allowed to run the program his way, but E.G.G. doesn't have the stones to fire Smith)

so, fwiw, thats what I heard from an ex-OSU player on sports radio the other day


October 28th, 2011 at 12:05 PM ^

Usually, people wait until the player actually has money to sue him.  This is an interesting case in that Berry might never have enough money to pay off the suit if he loses it.  If he hits it big in the NFL, though, the victim might cash in.  

Only in Columbus.



October 28th, 2011 at 12:16 PM ^

I have no problem with OSU's stance on this.... I don't think you should kick a kid off the team or suspend him because he's sued in a civil suit.   Civil suits are about money... not about breaking the law

Imagine the real-world analogy... getting fired from your job because someone sued you.   Has 1/8 the validity of being arrested/charged/prosecuted.

Even if found guilty in a civil case should not be grounds for suspension.   Having a jury decide that it's "more probably true than not true" (i.e. 50.01% chance) that you committed the negligent act is very different than the criminal standard of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (i.e. 99.9% chance).


October 28th, 2011 at 12:31 PM ^

The missing piece here is whether Fickell has talked to Berry, talked to the managers of wherever he was, read the complaint, ect. If Fickell believes that Berry did this, he should be off the team.

If I had been arrested for theft last month, got sued for it a separate theft incident the next month and my employer did an investigation and they were satisfied that I stole again, I wouldn't exactly be confident in my job security.


October 28th, 2011 at 12:25 PM ^

This is an excellent point.  Just ask OJ Simpson.  I believe he was found guilty in a civil case by the family of his murdered ex-wife, even though he had been found innocent in the criminal case.  For the record, he would have been found guilty in the criminal case if not for the prosecutors bungling the case. 

Deep Under Cover

October 28th, 2011 at 12:32 PM ^

I am going to sound like a broken record in this thread, but whatevs.  I agree with your point overall but this is the second instance of assault accusations for Berry, and this is a violent incident rather than a property-type issue.  Also, there is an independent witness that made a statement to police that it was Berry and that he admitted to doing it.


October 28th, 2011 at 12:55 PM ^

"Ultimately, we’re working at what’s best for this program "

The best thing for the program is to win, and Berry gives them a better chance to do so.

Actually, I'm not opposed to a choach following the law, as morals (of which Fickell doesn't have) are much more subjective.


October 28th, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

This guy being booted potetionally takes away more bad press for osu in the future, something I'm completely against. Every time you think their trash "program" is in the clear, another Berry like story pops up. Keep it coming Columbus.(Looks for more popcorn)


October 28th, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

Last time I check hes innocent until proven guilty. I wouldnt want someone from our team booted just because someone sued them, or they were charged. Now if they lost then by all means discipline them to the full extent but not before that. One eye witness saying that she heard Berry admit to the assault doesnt mean anything. If thats true there should be a police report of it. Do I believe Berry assaulted the guy? More than likely, but its a bad idea to start punishing people before the facts of the case get out. Also, you do have to look at the possibility that other person could have provoked the fight, got his ass kicked and now is just looking to get something out of it, as someone else already mentioned. Not saying that is still acceptable but I believe that as a coach many of us would view that quite differently than just going and beating the shit out of some player.