CHARLOTTE, NC (WJZY) - A Carolina Panthers fan is suing Andy Frain Services, Inc. and the Dallas Cowboys Football Club, Ltd. after he said he was wrongfully put in a chokehold by stadium security during a Panthers-Cowboys football game.
Court records say Plaintiffs John and Elva Small seek relief for the damages they suffered due to "the negligence of the two listed parties."
It stated the couple is, individually and collectively, alleging damages in excess of $25,000.
As we've reported, on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 2015 Mr. Small and his mother, Mrs. Small, traveled to Texas to watch the Carolina Panthers play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
The two said this date marked the one-year anniversary of John Steven "Steve" Small's death. Steve was Mr. Small's father and Mrs. Small's husband. They went to the game in honor of Steve's memory, and as a distraction from their grief.
During the last few minutes of the game, court records say Mr. Small was standing and holding a homemade sign when a member of the security team approached him and told him to sit down.
The filed lawsuit says Mr. Small's behavior, while enthusiastic, was not disruptive. It stated Mr. Small's conduct did not violate the Cowboys Stadium "Code of Conduct & Prohibited Items/Behavior". Mr. Small refused to sit down.
Several more security team members approached Mr. Small and insisted that he leave the stadium, records say.
Mr. Small indicated he did not want to miss seeing his father's favorite team, the Carolina Panthers, defeat the Dallas Cowboys, a victory that was only moments away.
According to the filed lawsuit, Mr. Small agreed to leave the game and at no point did he pose any threat to the safety of other fans, the stadium, or the security team.
Mr. Small was reportedly already in the aisle walking toward the exit when a member of the security team hit him in the back. This blow caused Mr. Small to stumble slightly, and then a security member came up behind him, and wrapped his arm around Mr. Small's neck from the back - putting him in a chokehold.
According to the filed lawsuit, the specific chokehold used is called the "sleeper", which can cause loss of consciousness and even death.
Mr. Small reportedly raised his hands in the air - trying to tell security he was not going to fight back. Security continued to hold Mr. Small in the chokehold, until he almost passed out.
Several people captured the moment on camera and hundreds of others witnessed it live. Many of the witnesses were crying out, "that's not right" and booing the security team, which could be heard on the videos.
"People have come forward that he didn't even know. Even Cowboys fans disgusted with how they treated a person of the opposing team," Adam Seifer said, Seifer-Flatow Law Firm.
Mrs. Small was in arms-reach of her son during most of the incident. In the filed lawsuit it states Mrs. Small feared for her son's life and even cried out for help.
The lawsuit states Mr. Small sustained physical injury, namely painful bruising on his neck and chest. As a result of the incident, Mr. Small says he began to experience increased anxiety and panic attacks.
Mrs. Small says because of this alleged incident she has suffered severe emotional distress, which was diagnosed by a medical professional.
Mr. and Mrs. Small state because of Andy Frain Services' (AT&T Stadium Security) negligence, they've suffered damages, inter alia, medical bills, emotional distress, humiliation, inconvenience, loss of employment of life, anxiety and pain, and suffering in excess of $25,000.