Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown smiles during an NFL football news conference, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Alameda, Calif. Photo: Ben Margot/AP
An NFL player who had resolved a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court might have fumbled the settlement after deleting a public apology he made to the plaintiff in the civil dispute.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown posted an apology to Ophir Sternberg on his Twitter account around 11 p.m. Monday. The public apology was the result of an agreement between the parties over an April 2018 incident, in which Brown allegedly tossed an ottoman, vases and other objects from his room on the 14th floor of the Mansions at Acqualina, a luxury oceanfront condo in Miami.
“The legal dispute between Ophir Sternberg and me has been resolved, with a confidential sum of funds being donated to charity,” Brown wrote Monday night, before deleting the tweet about two hours later. “I am so sorry that an incident occurred. I apologize for any statements we made in court filings or otherwise to Mr. Sternberg and family. I wish Mr. Sternberg my best with regard to future endeavors and through this settlement seek to make amends with Mr. Sternberg and family.”
But now the deleted apology might put the settlement in jeopardy, although Brown’s attorney says otherwise.
The plaintiff, Sternberg, an Israel-born real estate developer based in Miami, filed suit against the football star in August 2018. He alleged Brown committed assault and intentionally inflicted emotional assault upon Sternberg’s then-22 month-old child by throwing objects out from the window of his condo.
The complaint categorized Brown’s actions as the result of an apparent fit of rage and stated the flying objects nearly struck Sternberg’s son. The suit contended the developer’s son was left traumatized by the incident and has suffered from night terrors “every night” since, in addition to being prone to crying and outbursts.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman approved a settlement between Sternberg and Brown on July 2. According to the order, the confidential settlement stipulates for Brown to provide a charitable contribution. The court order also outlines that the proceeds from the case are to be put toward a Florida Prepaid college fund for Sternberg’s son.
Read Antonio Brown’s now-deleted apology:
Media personnel with the NFL and the Oakland Raiders did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Brown’s attorney, Fort Lauderdale lawyer Darren Heitner, said his client did not violate any terms of the settlement by sharing and subsequently deleting his apology.
“There has been no breach of the settlement agreement by Mr. Brown,” Heitner said. “Re-opening the matter would be a breach and frivolous act, and we will aggressively defend against any attempt to further litigate a closed case.”
The attorney is also representing Brown in a separate lawsuit filed against the wide receiver by the landlord of the property seeking damages caused by the incident.
Commercial litigator Hinshaw & Culbertson partner David Weinstein, who’s not involved in the litigation, said it’s possible Brown’s deletion could constitute a violation of the settlement, depending on the parameters of the agreement.
“We’ve all represented clients who’ve had to apologize, and oftentimes what they think is an apology is not an actual apology,” he said. “Perhaps this was a knee-jerk reaction on [Brown’s] part.”
As for the possibility of further litigation, Weinstein said that depends on how Sternberg’s legal team chooses to react.
“It’s up to the [plaintiff’s] lawyers saying, ‘You only got one shot. You blew it. The agreement’s void,’” Weinstein said.
Sternberg was represented by Alan Kluger, a founding member of the Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine law firm, as well as firm partner Erin Bohannon. Kluger, through a spokesperson, declined to provide comment.
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