Player Says Wedding Brawl Dashed NFL Hopes

     (CN) — A former University of Arizona linebacker claims in court that venue staffers caused a fight over a wedding cake, which led to bogus assault charges and cost him a spot in the NFL draft.
     In an Oct. 18 complaint filed in Yavapai County Superior Court, Jason Sweet alleges he got into a fight with Levi Kerns and Alexis Herbert — a married couple who worked for defendant Sky Ranch Lodge — while trying to stop them from eating his brother’s leftover wedding cake.
     Kerns and Herbert are both named as defendants in the nine-page complaint. Sweet’s wife Jessica joined him as a plaintiff.
     The Sweets claim they saw the two employees dressed casually and holding hands at an overlook, and didn’t know they worked at the lodge.
     Sweet says he thought Kerns and Herbert followed them back from the overlook to the reception area to steal the half-eaten cake.
     “Plaintiffs observed Kerns and Herbert begin to dig their bare hands into the wedding cake, tear it apart, and eat pieces of it. They then observed Kerns pick up the cake and begin to carry it away,” the complaint states.
     Sweet claims he asked Kerns what he was doing, and after placing his hand on Kerns’ shoulder, “Kerns turned and attacked Jason.”
     “Herbert, who was nearby, began hitting Jason,” according to the lawsuit. “Jason was forced to subdue Kerns to protect himself. Plaintiff Jessica Sweet, who had taken a different path to the reception area, came upon the melee and told everyone to stop. Jason immediately let Kerns go. Only at this point did Kerns and Herbert identify themselves as employees of Sky Ranch Lodge and say they had been directed to dispose of the cake.”
     Sweet claims Kerns and Herbert reported the incident to police, and that they falsely accused him of attacking without provocation.
     The former football player was charged with two counts of assault. He says he was found not guilty after a one-day bench trial, but the damage had already been done.
     “Plaintiff Jason Sweet was forced to take time from school and work and to resign from the University of Arizona football team, losing NCAA eligibility and making himself ineligible for the NFL draft,” the complaint states.
     “He had to drop out last season,” Sweet’s attorney David Lipartito confirmed in an interview.
     The lawsuit asserts claims of malicious prosecution, infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery. The Sweets seek punitive damages.
     Sweet, 28, joined the University of Arizona football team in 2014 after serving six years in the Air Force as a pararescue jumper.
     Nonparty University of Arizona Athletics did not return requests for comment Friday.
     Kerns, Herbert and Sky Ranch Lodge also did not return requests for comment. Lipartito said the defendants were still in the process of being served.

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