War Eagle Extra

Auburn football: Tigers H-back Eric Smith sued over alleged assault

Running back Eric Smith is being sued for allegedly knocking a fellow Auburn student unconscious in a local hotel parking lot in August.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, alleges Smith and two unnamed Auburn football players assaulted 19-year-old engineering student Decari Jenkins and his friend at the Lexington Hotel on Aug. 21.

Jenkins, who is represented by the Birmingham law firm Crew & Howell, P.C., seeks punitive and unspecified compensatory damages for suffering physical and emotional damage as well as incurring medical expenses. He claims to have permanent scarring to his face and post-concussion syndrome that has affected his ability to complete his education.

Jenkins is not suing either of the other two Auburn football players in the alleged assault. They are not identified in the lawsuit.

Smith, 19, was arrested in the early morning hours of Aug. 21 after police say they saw him strike Jenkins in the back of the head. He was later charged with third-degree assault. The criminal charges were resolved when Smith was granted youthful offender status last month.

A harassment claim filed by Smith alleging Jenkins provoked him was dropped.

However, Tuesday’s lawsuit alleges that Smith and two other Auburn football players were the instigators.

It claims the two unidentified players approached Jenkins and his friend at the hotel in a “provocative and belligerent” manner. Jenkins’ friend stepped between them and said, “We don’t want any trouble.” He was immediately knocked unconscious by one of the players, according to the lawsuit.

Smith then approached Jenkins and knocked a drink out of his hand, after which Smith and the football players began “to pummel Jenkins with hands and fists about his body and face.”

After being knocked to the floor, Jenkins claims he fled the assault downstairs toward the entrance of the hotel. Smith followed and, in front of four police officers, punched Jenkins in the back of the head, leaving him “unconscious in a pool of blood.”

The suit says Jenkins suffered a tennis ball-sized knot over his eye and a gash that required 14 stitches. He claims to have since suffered from post-concussion syndrome symptoms like headaches, nausea and sleeplessness.

Smith, a sophomore from Seffner, Fla., was suspended from the team by Auburn coach Gene Chizik for 2 1/2 weeks. He missed the season opener but has since returned and assumed a starting role as an H-back. He has 103 rushing yards and a touchdown plus 17 catches for another 225 yards.