A Utah Jazz fan who received a lifetime ban from the Vivint Smart Home Arena in March is suing the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets player Russell Westbrook, alleging that he was wrongly accused of using racial slurs towards the NBA star.
Shane Keisel's attorneys filed the lawsuit on Monday in 4th District Court and claimed that he and his girlfriend Jennifer Huff were subjected to a "tirade" from an "irate" Westbrook.
"Mr. Keisel's heckling was of the same kind and caliber as that of the other audience members in the section," the lawsuit states.
Keisel was banned from all Vivint Smart Home Arena event following a game between the Jazz and Thunder with Westbrook alleging that he was provoked by Keisel telling him to "get down on your knees like you used to."
"The crowd was shocked by the ferocity of Mr. Westbrook's outburst when he had only been told to take care of his knees," the lawsuit reads, "albeit in a mocking manner that implied he would need to use them extensively to ensure his team's victory."
Frank Zang, senior vice president of communications for Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment, said there is no legal or factual basis for the lawsuit's claims against the Jazz.
"The organization investigated the underlying incident and acted in an appropriate and responsible manner," Zang said per the Salt Lake Tribune. "We intend to vigorously defend [against] the lawsuit."
Keisel claims the incident has caused him and his family a great deal of distress.
"In public, people have stopped, point out, and taken photographs of Mr. Keisel and his family," the lawsuit states, "causing Mr. Keisel to avoid going out in public except when necessary."
Keisel and Huff are seeking $68 million in damages for Keisel and $32 million for Huff on claims of defamation and infliction of emotional distress.