Kicker Josh Lambo has filed a lawsuit against the Jacksonville Jaguars seeking his $3.5 million salary for 2021, plus damages for emotional distress. The lawsuit says Lambo’s performance suffered as a result of being kicked and verbally abused by then-head coach Urban Meyer.
The lawsuit, filed in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court in Duval County on Tuesday, claims Meyer and the Jaguars created a hostile work environment. Since Lambo reported the incident to the Jaguars’ legal counsel, his subsequent release violated Florida’s Private Sector Whistle Blower’s Act, the lawsuit claims.
Lambo, the fourth-most accurate placekicker in NFL history, missed a field-goal attempt in each of the Jaguars’ first two preseason games. In a practice before the final exhibition game against the Cowboys in August, Lambo says he was in a lunge position when Meyer approached him, kicked him in the leg and said, ‘Hey Dips--t, make your f--king kicks!’”
Lambo says he told Meyer to never strike him again, but the Meyer responded with, “I’m the head ball coach, I’ll kick you whenever the f--k I want.”
The lawsuit says Lambo verbally reported the incident immediately through his agent, Richard Irvin, who contacted the Jaguars’ legal counsel the day after Meyer kicked him.
Irvin and the Jaguars confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times on Dec. 15 that the legal counsel was contacted and offered Lambo a chance to meet with them. Lambo said, however, that he has “no recollection of being able to speak with the Jags’ legal team.”
“Jaguars legal counsel indeed acknowledged and responded immediately to the query made by Josh Lambo’s agent Friday, Aug. 27, 2021,” the Jaguars said in a statement to the Times. “Counsel offered to speak with Josh, or to assist Josh in speaking with coaching or any other football personnel, if he was comfortable with her sharing the information. Any suggestion otherwise is blatantly false.”
Hours after the Times reported the kicking incident in December, the Jaguars fired Meyer, ending his tumultuous NFL tenure after 13 games.
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 that 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.”
Within a day of the kicking incident, Lambo said Meyer threatened to release him, saying, “You’re the first player I’ve ever let speak to me that way in my career, and if you do it again, you’re gone.”
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.
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“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 fifty-five yards, fifty-two yards and fifty-eight yards,” according to the lawsuit.
Lambo was released by the Jaguars on Oct. 19.
The lawsuit notes that the Jaguars won only two games in 2021. “Multiple skilled players missed assignments, dropped passes or otherwise failed to perform on-field directly resulting in the Jaguars’ game losses. However, Mr. Lambo, the player who objected to the unlawful activity of Mr. Meyer, was the only player Mr. Meyer and the Defendant (the Jaguars) cut from the roster.”
Lambo is seeking a jury trial and hopes to be awarded a judgement for back pay owed from his 2021 salary with interest as well as “compensation for any special damages sustained as emotional stress and reputational harm and litigation fees,” among other costs.
Attached to the lawsuit is a request for documentation that includes all communications between Jaguars employees relating to reports made by others in the organization of unprofessional, bullying, abusive or toxic behavior by Meyer in the workplace. It also asks for documentation of Meyer’s termination, as well as any documents that show the basis for his firing was related to his workplace behavior and treatment of employees, coaches or players during 2021.
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