CLEVELAND-- Calling the team’s conduct gross and inexcusable, a Northeast Ohio man is filing a lawsuit against the Cleveland Browns for wrongly accusing him of throwing beer on an opposing player. The team banned him from FirstEnergy Stadium, but the man says he was not even at the game.
The lawsuit filed late Monday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court is asking for at least $25,000 in damages.
"He didn't ask for this, he didn't ask to be wrongfully accused by the Browns. All he wanted was the Browns to make right and the Browns still to this moment have not made right," said attorney Brian Taubman.
Taubman filed the lawsuit against the Cleveland Browns, the NFL and team security officials on behalf of his client, Eric Smith.
"It's a shame we had to go this route, but the Browns didn't want to work it out any other way than offer him two tickets or four tickets to a game," Taubman said.
It was Sept. 8, the Browns season opener against the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium. Near the end of the game, Baker Mayfield threw an interception, which the Titans ran back for a touchdown. To celebrate, opposing player Logan Ryan jumped into the Dawg Pound and got doused with beer. Three days later, Smith received a call from the team, saying they identified him as the fan who threw the beer.
"He just kind of doubled down on everything like 'We know it was you,'" Smith told FOX 8 on Sept. 11.
Smith said he didn't attend the game. Instead, he said he was home relaxing with his wife and kids before he left around 3 p.m. to DJ a wedding.
"I have no clue how it led to this or what they did to even determine it was my client. I've seen the video feed, my client is not that gentleman, I don't think even to this day they've found him," Taubman said.
According to the lawsuit, a Browns official later reached out to Smith to apologize stating, "Our intent was to act swiftly and decisively. Unfortunately, we didn't do enough homework."
Taubman said he believes the team felt public pressure from Ryan and the NFL Players Association to locate the offender.
"They clearly rushed to put out a fire and they messed up and they should own up," Taubman said.
Smith said the team’s accusation has caused him and his wife to experience mental anguish, loss of income, loss of enjoyment and companionship, and will continue to cause problems in the foreseeable future.
A spokesman for the Cleveland Browns declined to comment, stating this is a pending legal matter.