Reality-show host Tila Tequila filed a civil suit in San Diego Monday accusing ex-boyfriend Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman of assault, battery and false imprisonment during a fight at Merriman's Poway home.
The suit claims that Tequila (aka Tila Nguyen) argued with Merriman over the football player's personal drug use and "tone of disrespect' toward women. The suit claims the fight led to a physical attack where the linebacker chased Nguyen, shook her like a "rag doll," choked her and slammed her into a couch.
Merriman, who was arrested by San Diego County Sheriff's deputies the morning after the fight but did not face criminal charges, has said he was only trying to protect Nguyen, who he described as intoxicated, from leaving his home.
Now, Nguyen has moved the case to civil court and is suing Merriman, claiming she was a victim of assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and domestic violence. The suit seeks unspecified damages, but Tequila's attorney said they were seekind damages around 1.5 million dollars.
In court documents filed Nov. 16 in San Diego County Superior Court, Nguyen claims that as she tried to leave Merriman’s home, the linebacker “chased her down the hall, grabbed her by the arms, forcefully shook her and then choked her.”
“The force used by defendant caused plaintiff to be thrown against defendant’s couch and damage her neck, arms and back,” the court documents claim.
Attorneys allege that their client was "unable to breathe and with tears running down her face, [Nguyen] began to black out."
When reached Tuesday, Merriman’s attorney refused to comment on the civil suit.
Through her Twitter account @officialTila, Tequila said Tuesday morning, "I told you, I am a FIGHTER! I have not spoken a word about this case for a long time cuz I'm doing this for EVERYONE who has been abused."
She also tweeted, "Thank you much for your support, and this time, God will be on my side and so will my #TilaArmy & All of my Peoples out there! I love You! x"
The court documents outlined that Nguyen and Merriman met on July 4 and began dating on and off after that. On Friday, Sep. 4, they spent the evening together in Merriman's hotel room, according to Nguyen's attorneys. Nguyen then said she planned to spend the next few days with Merriman in his home and moved her belongings there on Saturday, Sept. 5.
Stingaree management officials confirmed that Merriman and Nguyen were at a birthday celebration with friends in the penthouse of the nightclub until 2 a.m. on Sept. 5 when the nightclub closed.
The morning of Merriman's arrest, the Charger's attorney talked with reporters outside the county jail downtown and mentioned Nguyen's behavior at the time of the argument.
“During the evening Ms. Tequila was extremely intoxicated, inebriated and Mr. Merriman did everything he could to assist her in arranging for transportation to leave his home. At no time did Mr. Merriman assault her; at no time did Mr. Merriman keep her against her will. His intentions were nothing but good,” Merriman’s attorney Todd Macaluso said.
Nguyen claims in the lawsuit that "she told defendant that she was against his personal drug use (steroids, ecstasy, pot), his violent behavior... and [name deleted by editors]'s manufacturing of ecstasy in defendant's home with defendant's consent and aid." The unnamed individual is identified in the suit as one of the people who left Stingaree with Nguyen and Merriman the night of the argument.
According to legal experts, if the claims made in the document are untrue, they could open Nguyen up to a countersuit alleging malicious prosecution, slander, etc.
On Tuesday, during an interview on Fox Sports Radio, Merriman deflected questions about the lawsuit, saying he wasn't surprised it was filed. "I think we all expected that from my side at least,"Merriman said. "You know, it's an unfortunate thing that you got to deal with those things being an athlete and having a name."
Merriman also said his lawyer would eventually clear his name and that he didn't not have a relationship with Tequila. "I didn't know her that well or anything like that, I just wish that part will be cleared up first and foremost,"said Merriman. "I'm sure the rest of it when everything comes to light will be pretty good."
Nguyen is best known for "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila," which ran for two seasons on MTV. The bisexual dating show featured men and women vying for Nguyen's affections. She has also modeled for Playboy and other men's magazines.
Merriman was the 12th overall pick out of the University of Maryland in the 2005 draft, and had 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons. The three-time Pro Bowl selection missed nearly all of last season following knee surgery. He was suspended for four games for testing positive for steroids in 2006.