Reggie Bush has been targeted by a businessman in a lawsuit connected to the plaintiff’s parents, who live in San Diego County.
The man, Lloyd Lake, who settled a previous lawsuit he filed against Bush, claims in new court papers that someone defaced his elderly parents’ home, apparently in an attempt to demand that Lake help get the former USC star’s Heisman Trophy back.
Bush, 38, a graduate of Helix High in La Mesa who moved on to have a 10-year NFL career, resolved the first suit in 2010 with Lake. The suit accused Bush of accepting cash and other benefits while the running back played for the Trojans in 2004 and 2005.
Lake’s initial case alleged breach-of-contract.
Lake, along with his parents, Roy and Barbara Gunner, sued Bush again in Van Nuys Superior court on Feb. 10, this time alleging defamation.
Bush is trying to force arbitration of the new suit, abiding by what he says are the terms of the accord in the first suit requiring that an arbitrator and not a jury decide any future claims. A hearing is scheduled June 20 before Judge Valerie Salkin.
But in court papers filed Tuesday, the plaintiffs’ attorneys state that the arbitration clause only applies to contractual disputes. Including in the filing was an image of two sides of a wall separating a gate outside the Gunner home.
On one side of the wall someone used spray paint to scrawl “187” – possibly referring to murder under the state Penal Code – while the other side is defaced with the words, “Help Reggie Bush Get His Trophy Back (epithet) Crook.”
The plaintiffs’ attorneys blame the graffiti on “unknown bad actors on behalf of or at the direction of Bush” and they further state in their court papers that Bush “created a firestorm of vitriol that now has engulfed Lake’s parents.”
An attorney for Bush did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The current suit alleges that Bush defamed Lake and the Gunners with remarks he made on YouTube last September and on Twitter three months later.
In the interview, Bush allegedly said, among other things, that Lake was trying to blackmail him and contended that Lake had a long police record, one he compared to the length of a Cheesecake Factory menu.
Both statements are untrue, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
On Twitter, Bush allegedly referred to Lake as a “convicted felon who was in prison for rape,” an allegation which the plaintiffs’ attorneys state in their court papers was “false and without any substance.”
Lake and the Gunners have suffered severe emotional distress and financial harm, the current suit states.
In addition to winning the 2005 Heisman Trophy, Bush also took home the 2005 Doak Walker and Walter Camp awards. However, an NCAA investigation of the USC football program raised allegations that he received improper benefits and Bush forfeited the Heisman.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has reported that a USC donor has paid for billboards in the city urging officials to return Bush’s name to the Heisman record books. On the Heisman web site, 2005 is skipped – there is no winner listed for the season.
Bush, now a broadcaster, retired from the NFL in 2017.
– City News Service