Henry Melton being sued over arrest

Updated: March 14, 2014, 1:34 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPN.com

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton was arrested back in December for assault and public intoxication stemming from an altercation with a bartender at Chill Sports Bar & Grill in Grapevine, Texas.

Now, the owner of the restaurant is suing Melton, according to WFAA-TV in Dallas, for "a sum greater than $1 million." Interestingly, Melton's legal representatives had been planning a lawsuit, too, as they had spent time in the weeks after the incident taking statements from witnesses in attendance at the bar the night of the incident.

According to the WFAA report, surveillance video shows a bartender instructing a patron to leave and a punch later being thrown.

Donald Payne, the owner of Chill Sports Bar & Grill, alleges Melton bit him during the altercation, according to his attorney, Darren Wolf.

"When he was asked to leave, his belligerence and unruliness turned into violence," Wolf told WFAA-TV. "It took four men to do this because he's a big guy. And in the process, my client Mr. Payne received a really, really horrific bite from Mr. Melton. He bit him in the side near the kidney through the skin."

According to Wolf, Payne visited a hospital for treatment. The attorney claimed Payne's ordeal extended beyond physical distress. A patron who claimed to witness the incident told ESPN.com in December that Melton "didn't really do anything."

"There's some psychological injury there," Wolfe told the television station. "The thought of another human being you don't know biting through your skin, piercing your skin: It's a pretty frightening experience, and it's dangerous."

According to the WFAA report, the lawsuit alleges that at the bar the night of the incident, Melton told restaurant workers he "was a millionaire and the bartenders were nothing but poor white trash."

An unrestricted free agent, Melton is currently on a string of visits with teams as he decides his football destination for 2014. In addition to a visit with the Minnesota Vikings, a league source said Melton had several other visits with teams lined up.

Bears general manager Phil Emery hadn't heard about the lawsuit against Melton as of Thursday evening, and wouldn't indicate whether the situation would affect whether the team decided to re-sign the defensive tackle.

"That's the first I've heard of it, you just mentioning it. If that's related to the situation down in Texas, I think that's been an ongoing issue in terms of that issue coming to conclusion and that's all I can talk about it," Emery said. "In terms of evaluating Henry the player, that's separate from that. His on-the-field is one thing in terms of evaluation. The off-the-field is the other. It is a part of it, but that's a legal issue and that's all I need to say about that.

"I think he's still got some teams to visit. We pretty much left it with [agent] Jordan [Woy] that he was gonna go through this process and when he got through it and he had a pretty good of what his market is, we could talk at that time. Of course, the clock is ticking. So our resources or what we have at that time may have changed. But we'll see where we're at when that's all finished."

Woy, meanwhile, told ESPN.com that Melton still plans to pursue legal action against Chill Bar & Grill.

Woy also released a statement:

"We have recently reviewed the lawsuit, and do not believe the validity of the allegations made. We look forward to providing the true facts in court, and will defend this matter vigorously. We will seek and hold the Chill and other accountable for any and all damages Henry has suffered at the hands of multiple men who attacked him."

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


MORE NFL HEADLINES