Man sues Pacers' mascot for unexpected tackle

INDIANAPOLIS -- A man is suing the Indiana Pacers and the performer who portrays its feline mascot, alleging the 6-foot-tall performer permanently injured him when he was tackled during a free-throw shooting contest.

Nathaniel Jackson, who lives in northern Indiana's Adams County, alleges in his lawsuit that as he entered Conseco Fieldhouse for a March 11, 2005 game against Golden State he was asked to take part in a free-throw shooting contest during a timeout.

Jackson, who is in his mid-20s, initially declined, saying he was recovering from back surgery but was assured that "there would be no reason for concern or injury," according to the lawsuit, which was filed March 2 in Marion Superior Court.

After taking part in the free-throw contest, the lawsuit states that Jackson began to leave the basketball court but was tackled from behind by the team's mascot, "Boomer," a 6-foot-tall blue cat with gold whiskers.

The employee who knew about Jackson's back surgery immediately told the mascot about the surgery, and Boomer responded by kicking at Jackson's legs, the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint names the Pacers organization, Conseco Fieldhouse and the unidentified performer who portrays Boomer, and accuses them of negligence.

Jackson's lawsuit seeks compensation for his medical bills, lost income, pain, suffering and "permanent injuries," which are not detailed in the complaint.

In a statement released Thursday, the Pacers declined to comment, saying team officials had not reviewed the lawsuit.

"We have just received word about the filing of this lawsuit. Until we can review the details and speak with all parties concerned, we will withhold comment," the statement said.

Jackson's lawyers declined to comment on his behalf, saying they would prefer to allow the lawsuit stand for itself.

"Since that was just filed and we're in the midst of litigation and we have been unable to get the case resolved prior to filing suit, I feel the best avenue at this point in time is to let the litigation process continue," said Stanley Rosenblatt, a Fort Wayne lawyer representing Jackson.