Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown filed a motion to dismiss one of the lawsuits against him Thursday, with his lawyer slamming the suit as "a blatant shakedown attempt."
The lawsuit, which was filed in Miami-Dade County in August, alleges Brown threw several items — including two vases and an ottoman — from the 14th-floor balcony of a condominium building in late April, intentionally causing emotional distress to a 22-month-old child who was walking with his grandfather below. The suit was filed on the child's behalf by his father, Ophir Sternberg, and seeks damages in excess of $15,000.
In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed Thursday, Brown's lawyer, Darren Heitner, wrote that Sternberg's claims are "false, meritless and a flagrant misrepresentation of the situation that occurred."
"This action amounts to nothing more than a shameful attempt by a struggling real estate developer to exploit his minor child for the purpose of alleging a baseless and false claim against a well-known and respected individual," the motion states.
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Brown was "very agitated" and yelling at condo security staff when police arrived at the building in April, according to copies of incident reports obtained by USA TODAY Sports. Brown was accusing security of "(setting) him up" after he had reported that $80,000 in cash and a handgun had gone missing from his unit. Police wrote in the incident report that Brown had broken some items in the condo and thrown others over the balcony.
Brown and his lawyer claim, among other things, that "the acts were committed by another individual who was also present at the time of the incident." They also argue that the child's reported distress — including "night tremors" and "symptoms of fear and anxiety" — do not meet the legal standard for "severe" distress.
Sternberg's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
The emotional distress lawsuit is one of two suits Brown is facing in Miami-Dade County as a result of the incident: The owner of the condo is also suing Brown for damaging the unit and refusing to pay for the damages.
In a statement released to ESPN and other media outlets Thursday, Brown said the lawsuits will not distract him from football.
“It has now been made public that two lawsuits containing false claims have been filed against me," he said in the statement. "The facts will soon come out that prove my innocence. My focus will remain on football and I will not let the cases serve as a distraction."
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.
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