JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Former NFL placekicker Josh Lambo has filed a lawsuit against the Jacksonville Jaguars, seeking more than $3.5 million in salary and damages for emotional distress caused by former head coach Urban Meyer.
The Tampa Bay Times first reported details of the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court in Duval County and claims Meyer and the Jaguars created a hostile work environment. According to the lawsuit, Lambo says his performance suffered as a result of being kicked and verbally abused by Meyer.
Lambo is seeking a jury trial and hopes to be awarded a judgment for back pay owed from his 2021 salary ($3.5 million) with interest as well as “compensation for any special damages sustained as emotional stress and reputational harm and litigation fees,” among other costs.
The Jaguars fired Meyer on Dec. 15, hours after the Tampa Bay Times reported Meyer had kicked Lambo during a practice months earlier. Meyer was fired with cause, although the team insists Lambo’s accusation had nothing to do with owner Shad Khan’s decision to end one of the most tumultuous coaching tenures in NFL history.
Since Lambo reported the kicking incident to the Jaguars’ legal counsel, his subsequent release violated Florida’s Private Sector Whistle Blower’s Act, the lawsuit says.
Lambo, the fourth-most accurate kicker in NFL history, missed a field-goal attempt in each of Jacksonville’s first two preseason games. In a practice before the final exhibition game at Dallas in August, Lambo says he was stretching when Meyer approached him, kicked him in the leg and said, “Hey (expletive), make your (expletive) kicks!”
Lambo says he told Meyer to never strike him again, but Meyer responded with, “I’m the head ball coach. I’ll kick you whenever the (expletive) I want.”
The lawsuit says Lambo verbally reported the incident immediately through his agent, who contacted the Jaguars’ legal counsel the day after Meyer kicked Lambo.
An employer physically striking an employee at work, then threatening to do so again in response to resistance is illegal under Florida civil and criminal law, the lawsuit claims.
Meyer, speaking prior to his firing, denied the incident happened the way Lambo described it.
“Josh’s characterization of me and this incident is completely inaccurate, and there are eyewitnesses to refute his account,” Meyer said. “(General manager) Trent (Baalke) and I met with him on multiple occasions to encourage his performance, and this was never brought up. I was fully supportive of Josh during his time with the team and wish him nothing but the best.”
The lawsuit claims the incident affected Lambo’s ability to sleep, practice and perform his job the way he had during his seven NFL seasons.
“Mr. Meyer’s hostility had the intended effect on Mr. Lambo, resulting in Mr. Lambo uncharacteristically missing difficult and long kicks from the ranges of 55 yards, 52 yards and 58 yards,” according to the lawsuit.
Lambo was released by the Jaguars on Oct. 19, two days after Matt Wright made two 50-plus-yard field goals to beat Miami in London and end the franchise’s 20-game losing streak.