When the holdout of running back Ezekiel Elliott became official, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones mentioned his support of Elliott in connection with his 2017 suspension. There’s another incident that could comes to mind for Jones, if the allegations of a new lawsuit are true.
Via TMZ.com, the civil action filed regarding a January 2017 car accident involving Elliott claims that the Cowboys “conspired with the Frisco Police Dept. to cover up the severity of the accident to assure that Elliott’s health would not be placed in question before their playoff game.”
The lawsuit includes an inflammatory contention that will be very hard to prove in court: “If anyone had actually reported the impact of the accident and had Elliott been examined he would have most likely been placed in concussion protocol and out for the Dallas Cowboys upcoming playoff game.” (Elliott played in the game, an eventual loss to the Packers, rushing for 125 yards on 22 attempts.)
The plaintiff claims that, after the accident, Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown arrived on the scene and said, “We will take care of everything.” The plaintiff claims that his injuries have not been taken care of; he’s seeking $20 million in damages from the team and from Elliott.
“Ezekiel Elliott believes he’s above the law,” the plaintiff’s attorney, Larry Friedman, told TMZ. “He doesn’t follow any rules. As a citizen and a member of our community he has a duty to obey the law and act responsibly, especially while driving a motor vehicle. . . . There are no exemptions for running backs or members of the Dallas Cowboys.
“He has admitted liability in this case but refuses to take responsibility as he has refused to take responsibility on so many other occasions when he has disobeyed the law.”
It’s unclear how the Cowboys actually owe the plaintiff anything, even if the allegation of a coverup is true. The incident would have been handled by Elliott’s insurance company. To the extent the injuries exceed the amount of his insurance coverage (it would have been stupid for Elliott to not have a $10 million umbrella policy), Elliott would have direct responsibility to the plaintiff.
Unless the Cowboys owned the car or Elliott was driving the car as part of his employment duties or the Cowboys in some other way caused or contributed to the accident and ensuing injuries, it will be difficult if not impossible to impose liability on the team. Because Friedman says Elliott has admitted liability, the plaintiff apparently won’t be claimiing that the alleged coverup would have prevented police from citing Elliott for being at fault.
Surely, the plaintiff doesn’t believe that Brown’s statement that the Cowboys “will take care of everything” became a commitment to write a check to the plaintiff for his injuries.
There’s also a threshold question regardless the timeliness of the suit, since the accident happened more than two-and-a-half years ago. In Texas (as in most states), the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is two years. Unless an agreement was obtained to waive the statute of limitations in order to allow settlement talks to continues, there’s a chance the lawsuit was filed too late — if it was indeed filed recently and not before the two-year anniversary of the accident.