OXFORD, Miss. - Former Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is being sued by his stepfather, Lindsay Miller, just days before Tunsil is expected to be taken early in the NFL draft.
A lawsuit filed late Tuesday afternoon at the Lafayette County Courthouse by Miller’s attorney, Matthew Wilson, alleges that Tunsil attacked Miller last June and that Tunsil defamed Miller’s character. The lawsuit alleges these two things were an “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Tunsil faced criminal charges last summer when Miller and Tunsil filed domestic violence charges against each other. Tunsil alleged he attacked Miller after Miller attacked Tunsil’s mother, Desiree Polingo, and Miller alleged Tunsil attacked him unprovoked. Both sides dropped the charges last August. The lawsuit filed Tuesday is a civil case.
Miller pleaded not guilty through his attorney about two weeks before the charges were mutually dropped, which occurred on the day of Tunsil’s arraignment.
Miller claimed in a Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office arrest report obtained by The Clarion-Ledger the fight was a result of Miller’s warning Tunsil about having contact with agents.
Miller’s lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees, pre- and post-judgment interest and all costs associated with the suit because of “past, present, and future bodily injury, pain & suffering, severe emotional distress, medical costs, damage to reputation, and/or other types of damages that he has incurred (and will likely continue to incur).”
According to the lawsuit, Polingo and Miller had a “heated conversation” about Tunsil’s relationship with agents but that it ended when Polingo walked outside. The lawsuit alleges that Tunsil then “rushed inside the house and, without legal justification, violently attacked” Miller.
“Defendant Tunsil pushed Mr. Miller against the wall in the hallway, causing him to fall,” the lawsuit reads. “The disabled Navy combat veteran was simply unable to protect himself from the unprovoked assault by the six-foot-five-inch, 305-pound, powerfully-strong offensive tackle.
“After Defendant Tunsil had completely overpowered the now-helpless Mr. Miller, the All-American offensive lineman pounded the disabled American veteran severely, striking him with his fists multiple times. It took approximately four men to pull Defendant Tunsil from him.”
The lawsuit alleges that Tunsil then “published a false account of the altercation to Ole Miss Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze, to other Ole Miss coaches, and/or to other persons in general,” saying that Tunsil was defending his mother. The lawsuit calls that a “fabrication.”
“The malicious words of Defendant Tunsil were designed, in whole or in part, to discredit Mr. Miller’s allegations to law enforcement while bolstering Defendant Tunsil’s reputation in the eyes of the general public,” the lawsuit reads. “Furthermore, Defendant Tunsil knew, or should have known, that Coach Hugh Freeze, in particular, would repeat his remarks to local, state, and/or national media given Defendant Tunsil’s critical role on the Ole Miss football team.
“In fact, Coach Freeze and/or others did just that. As a result, Defendant Tunsil’s malicious statements, as repeated by Coach Freeze and others, caused irreparable damage to Mr. Miller’s reputation, the nature and scope of which will be determined at trial.”
An attempt to contact Jimmy Sexton, Tunsil's agent, was successful. Wilson declined comment on the case.
The lawsuit also requests depositions to be taken from Freeze, offensive line coach Matt Luke and assistant athletic director John Miller before the limitations period expires on June 28.
The lawsuit requests Freeze’s deposition because it alleges Tunsil discussed the situation with Freeze and then “Coach Freeze and (an) anonymous source effectively announced to millions of people via a national cable network [ESPN] that Mr. Miller had assaulted his wife.”
Luke and Miller were requested because they took Tunsil to the sheriff’s office last June and “may have independent knowledge of the facts of this matter.”
Tunsil has been widely projected to be among the top five selections in Thursday’s NFL draft in Chicago following a successful three-year career at Ole Miss. The left tackle allowed just two sacks in 29 games and declared for the draft after his junior season.
He served a seven-game suspension at the start of the season for accepting impermissible benefits, including use of three separate loaner vehicles over a six-month period without payment, a four-month, interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle and two nights’ worth of lodging at a local home, among other things.