The attorney representing a man suing Carolina Panthers’ linebacker Jon Beason told a jury Wednesday that the NFL player had "failed to take responsibility for his actions" and owes his client for an alleged assault in a Charlotte strip club 18 months ago.
Gregory Frye is suing Beason, accusing him of punching him in the head at the Uptown Cabaret.
Beason is countersuing, claiming Frye has slandered him.
In his opening statement Wednesday, attorney Curtis Osborne described to jurors the events of Nov. 15, 2009, the night of the confrontation between Frye and Beason. "Jon Beason dropped him with one punch," Osborne said, adding that Frye had suffered a crushed nasal cavity, a facial fracture, and swelling on the left side of his head.
Frye claims in the lawsuit that the attack took place after he told another Panthers’ player he had seen Beason "up at the lake, doing coke with some girl." Beason, 26, has adamantly denied attacking Frye and the drug allegations.
Beason was arrested after the alleged assault, but criminal charges were dropped 11 days later. Prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence to support the allegation that Beason had punched Frye.
"Other than Mr. Frye’s statement, police were not able to obtain evidence that Mr. Beason was the assailant," Assistant District Attorney Bruce Lillie said at the time. Lillie said police contacted several people who were at the club that night and said, "No one indicated they saw Beason strike Frye. No witnesses have come forward to say they saw Beason strike Frye."
Osborne said Wednesday he will ask jurors to have Beason compensate Frye for what happened and said they will seek punitive damages. "Hold him responsible -- finally -- for what he did to Greg Frye," Osborne said.
George Laughrun, representing Beason, called the Panthers’ player "a good upstanding man."
He told jurors that Beason wanted to hit Frye but didn’t. "He was mad as hell," Laughrun said of his client. "He wanted to sack him like Ben Roethlisberger."
Frye’s lawsuit claims he went to the annual Lake Bash in June 2009 at Lake Norman and saw Beason and a woman "engaging in what he believed to be snorting cocaine."
In the suit, Frye says he told Panthers’ tight end Dante Rosario that he had seen Beason doing cocaine, and Frye then says Beason’s driver and bodyguard later approached him, saying, "Whatever you said about Beason, he’s really pissed. You need to go talk to him."
Frye alleges that a short time later, Beason approached him "in a noticeably angry manner, cursing and yelling at Frye about the cocaine statement."
Frye claims that as the two men were walking outside to discuss the issue, Beason struck him twice. He said he never raised a hand to provoke Beason, and he never fought back.
On Wednesday, Laughrun described to jurors how Beason reacted when he had been charged with assault. He said Beason had tears in his eyes and told the attorney, "I have never been arrested. I’ve never been to a police department before."
Referring to the countersuit, Laughrun told jurors he and Beason will ask to be awarded a $1 settlement.
"It’s not about money ... he wants his name (reputation) back," Laughrun said.Click here to order Jon Beason’s proCane Rookie Card.