August 5, 1997 in Sports

Smith Will Pay Frier $4 Million Seattle TV Station Says Ex-Seahawks Teammates Settle Civil Suit Over Crash

Associated Press
 

Lamar Smith of the Seattle Seahawks has reportedly agreed to pay former teammate Mike Frier $4 million to settle a civil lawsuit arising from a December 1994 car wreck that left Frier paralyzed from the waist down.

The payment, to be made over seven years, will come from 50 percent of Smith’s signing bonuses and 35 percent of his income as a professional football player, KIRO-TV reported Monday night.

That’s significant for a reserve running back, who reportedly makes less than $300,000 a year after taxes.

“Oh, it’s a lot more money than he makes. I mean $4 million is a lot of money for Lamar,” Smith’s lawyer, Allen Ressler, told KIRO.

Ressler did not return a telephone call The Associated Press left with his answering service after office hours Monday.

Smith was not immediately reachable late Monday at the Seahawks training camp in Cheney.

Smith was accused of causing a December 1994 wreck that left defensive tackle Frier paralyzed below the waist due to a broken neck. Frier is unlikely to walk again, doctors say.

Prosecutors claim Smith was intoxicated when he drove a car into a utility pole in suburban Kirkland after a night of drinking. But because police initially believed the driver was Seahawks star running back Chris Warren, they didn’t perform sobriety tests on Smith.

Smith’s trial in King County Superior Court on a charge of vehicular assault ended Feb. 22, 1996, in a mistrial after jurors declared themselves deadlocked 11-1 for conviction.

Prosecutors plan to retry the case, but a second trial probably won’t occur until after the upcoming NFL season because the case is tied up in appeals.

Separately, Frier filed a civil lawsuit against Smith for damages. That suit was scheduled to go to trial this year.

Frier still lives in the Seattle area and reportedly spends much of his time working with computers.

Meanwhile, Smith, who scored the Seahawks’ first preseason home-game touchdown on Saturday, is in the last year of his contract with the team.

The out-of-court settlement stipulates that if Smith is unable to play in the future, he still must come up with a minimum of $1 million for Frier, KIRO reported.

Ressler said the accident has affected Smith emotionally.

“Clearly, if we could turn back history that would be preferable. But we can’t do that,” Ressler told KIRO. “All we can do is what we can, and Lamar has committed himself to sharing his income with Mike while he continues to play football.”

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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