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Utah Jazz Hits Fan With Lifetime Ban, Gets Sued

Fan says he shouldn't have been banned after incident involving Russell Westbrook
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2019 3:34 PM CST

(Newser) – A Utah Jazz fan that was hit with a lifetime ban from the basketball team is now suing the team as well as Russell Westbrook, the NBA player involved in the incident that got the fan banned. It all started back in March when Westbrook's then-team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, was playing the Jazz in Salt Lake City. Westbrook was caught on video (see it here) shouting at Shane Keisel and his girlfriend Jennifer Huff in the stands. "I will f--- you up. You and your wife," Westbrook can be heard saying in the video. But he explained after the game that Keisel had first yelled "racist and degrading remarks" at him, per the Deseret News. The Jazz launched an investigation and within a day had banned Keisel from all events held at Vivint Arena. But in his suit, Keisel claims the investigation was "inadequate" and that he only engaged in typical "heckling," the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

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He says the team did not interview nearby witnesses who would have corroborated his claim that Westbrook simply misheard him, and is suing for $100 million for defamation and infliction of emotional distress, among other things. He says he lost his job at a Toyota dealership and his spot in a pilot training program over the incident and ensuing publicity, and that he has also been harassed and received death threats. Huff is also named as a plaintiff. "We believe there is no legal or factual basis for these claims against the Utah Jazz," the team said in a statement. Westbrook, who has not commented on the lawsuit, was fined by the NBA for "directing profanity and threatening language to a fan." A previous Deseret News article explains Westbrook accused Keisel and Huff of telling him to "get down on your knees like you used to." He had previously complained about encounters with Jazz fans in Utah, and after banning Keisel the team also banned a fan involved in a 2018 incident. (Read more Utah Jazz stories.)

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