Alex Lifeson's New Year's Eve At The Ritz
Alex Lifeson and his son Justin accepted a plea agreement in which they will serve no jail time on charges related to their scuffle with Collier County Florida sheriff's deputies at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, on New Year's Eve 2003. The agreement called for Alex and Justin to plead no contest to a single misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence, serve 12 months probation and pay court costs. Lifeson later filed a lawsuit against the Ritz-Carlton, its security director and the three sheriff’s deputies involved, but lost when the judge ruled in favor of the deputies. Lifeson may appeal; below is a running history of the case.
- Rock band guitarist, family arrested for New Year's Eve scuffle with deputies: 'The lead guitarist for a renowned rock band faces criminal charges after a scuffle with Collier County sheriff's deputies at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, on New Year's Eve...reports said that trouble began after Justin Zivojinovich [son of Alex Lifeson] got up on the band's stage after being warned not to. The reports state that the 33-year-old Zivojinovich became verbally abusive after being asked to leave the stage...that is when his 50-year-old father came to the defense of his son..."I was singing Happy New Year's, that's all I was doing, singing to the whole crowd. That's all I said, 'Happy New Year,'" Justin Zivojinovich said. "Everyone was enjoying themselves. That's when someone apparently started yelling for one of the security guards. There was no violence on our part. I was ready to leave. I was asked to leave, and I said, 'OK, I'm going to go. I'll grab my wife and be out of there.' They didn't want that. They didn't want me to leave on a high note. They felt they would lose. They decided to aggravate me. They stunned me, as well as my father, with a stun gun." According to Justin Zivojinovich, Alex had his nose broken by deputies, and as he was spitting out the blood from the injuries, deputies assaulted him again. Justin said they have hired Naples defense lawyer Jerry Berry to represent them. Rush has scheduled a global 30th anniversary tour in 2004, and Justin said he did not know whether this arrest might affect those plans...Lifeson faces six charges that include aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, and disorderly intoxication. Also arrested in the brouhaha were his 33-year-old son Justin Zivojinovich and his wife, Michelle, 30." - Naples Florida News, Jan. 1, 2004
- Rush Guitarist Released After New Year's Arrest: '"This gives new meaning to dinner at The Ritz," Alex Zivojinovich said as he walked out of the jail in the same black suit he was wearing at the New Year's Eve bash at the posh hotel. His white shirt was covered in dried blood. He had black eyes and a swollen nose, which he said was broken in the altercation with deputies...Asked whether he felt the arrest was fair, Alex replied: "Absolutely not. That is a matter of opinion. They didn't like the way we were dancing, apparently."' - Naples Florida News, Jan 3rd, 2004. Video of Alex's release.
- Lifeson Considers Suit Alleging Police Brutality: 'An officer reacted to Lifeson's outburst by punching him in the face, breaking his nose, and hitting him twice with a stun gun.' MTV.com, Jan. 5, 2004
- Position Statement - Arrest of Alex Zivojinovich: 'Some of Alex Zivojinovichs fans have spoken out on his behalf and in doing so have attacked this Agency, the individual Deputies, and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel as well as the community in which we live and serve. None of the fans appear to have been present as witnesses. Premature emotional conclusive statements by the public, this Agency or the media are ill advised and frequently wrong. This Agency is a nationally and state accredited law enforcement agency with proven policy and procedure in place (which is periodically exercised) to review this incident and provide a fair and just outcome. This event will receive the same proper and timely review as all others and is neither our first nor will it be our last, as we review many cases each year. I am personally reviewing reports of the incident, directing investigative follow-up and have conducted an extensive back brief with the active duty Deputies who were on scene.' - Don Hunter, Collier County sheriff, Jan. 8, 2004
- More details emerge about night of Rush guitarist's arrest - Naples Florida News, Jan 12th:
- "Freddy Cole, the 71-year-old younger brother of the late, legendary performer Nat King Cole, was hired to play the $650-a-couple, black-tie event, where a dispute began between the lead guitarist for the rock group, Rush, and Collier County Sheriff's deputies...Cole said over his decades of performing, he has seen his share of people walk up on stage and act crazy, and he usually tries to ignore them, just as he did that night. 'The less you say, the better,' the 71-year-old said. 'I have learned over the years not to lend credence to people acting crazy, and to continue doing what I'm doing.' Likewise, Cole said he tried to tune out Justin Zivojinovich's remarks after he grabbed the microphone. 'He said something like, "How about a nice round of applause for this Count Basie." I wouldn't even look up. He knew damn well my name ain't Count Basie.'"
- "The sheriff's department is getting a slew of e-mails from irate Rush fans who believe the singer was the victim of police abuse. 'We're getting a lot of Rush fans being completely foul (in the messages),' Osceola said...'I don't know what they (the fans) think they are proving. Maybe they hope they will get an autograph-signed copy of his booking sheet, I don't know.'"
- Naples Daily News, Sheriff Feel The Wrath Of 'Rush' Fans: "It appears a trial will be necessary because Zivojinovich says he was unfairly arrested and the sheriff disagrees." - Naples Florida News, Jan. 18, 2004
- How serious are the felony allegations facing Alex Zivojinovich?: "Zivojinovich faces the more serious charge of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. If proven, the crime carries a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison...Of course, it is not unusual for charges to be reduced as a case makes its way through court. And Zivojinovich's lawyers aren't going to concede anything just yet. They have a room full of well-heeled witnesses to the start of the New Year's Eve altercation at the Ritz-Carlton and some may testify that sheriff's deputies overreacted to the situation that began when Zivojinovich's son, Justin, invited himself on stage. Much of the action that led to the charges happened in a stairwell, however, meaning the only witnesses will be the dispute's participants. Juries tend to believe cops." - Naples Florida News, Jan. 25, 2004
- Records show deputies in Lifeson arrest have spotless records: "Prosecutor Rich Montecalvo said Alex Zivojinovich's scheduled arraignment today is to be continued because the State Attorney's Office hasn't yet decided what charges, if any, to file against Zivojinovich. He said more investigation into the case needs to occur before this determination can be made." - Naples Florida News, Jan. 26, 2004
- Lifeson's arraignment hearing postponed: "...delayed until Feb. 9...The arraignment's two-week postponement was due to a procedural formality. Lifeson's lawyer Jerry Berry filed a written plea of not guilty and a notice to appear on Lifeson's behalf, so he won't have to appear in court, according to the Florida state attorney's office. Rush's business office in Toronto wouldn't comment, only to say that there are no plans to change the band's tour plans." - Toronto Globe and Mail, Jan. 27, 2004
- Arraignment for Rush guitarist postponed again: "Their arraignments were scheduled for Monday, but were rescheduled for Feb. 23. State Attorney's spokeswoman Chere Avery said charges haven't been filed yet because that office needs more time to investigate the case." - Naples Florida News, Feb. 10, 2004
- Third scheduled arraignment for Rush guitarist postponed: "The State Attorney's office hasn't yet filed charges against Alex...State Attorney's spokeswoman Chere Avery said the office needed more time to "evaluate its options," and that the next arraignment has been scheduled for Monday, March 8...So far, the State Attorney's office has only brought charges against Michelle Zivojinovich, who is facing a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest without violence." - Naples Florida News, Feb. 24, 2004
- Prosecutors undecided in case against rock musician, his son: "Prosecutors haven't decided yet whether to file charges...As a result, the arraignments for Alex Zivojinovich and his son, Justin, were postponed Monday for the fourth time. They have been rescheduled for March 22...The Collier County Sheriff's Office arrested Alex Zivojinovich, a seasonal Naples resident, on six charges. The charges include four felonies, the most serious of which could result in 30 years in prison if convicted. But it's up to the State Attorney's office whether to pursue any of these, or add or subtract charges." - Naples Florida News, Mar. 9, 2004
- Formal charges filed against Rush guitarist: "The State Attorney's Office has filed two charges of battery on a law enforcement officer against Alex Zivojinovich...The Collier County Sheriff's Office had arrested Zivojinovich on six charges. The arrest charges include four felonies, the most serious of which could have resulted in 30 years in prison if convicted...Under the revised charges, the guitarist's potential prison time if he is convicted has been reduced substantially from what it could have been under the original charges. The two third-degree felonies he now faces could be punishable by five years in prison if he is convicted." - Naples Florida News, Mar. 22, 2004
- Battery Charges Against Rush Guitarist Diminished - But He's Not Off The Hook: "The rocker will appear before a judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit Court in Naples on May 17. If convicted, Lifeson could face a fine of $500 or more and/or jail time." - MTV.com, Mar. 22, 2004
- Rush tour 'will go ahead': "It was all a very unfortunate situation, and hopefully a resolution is not too far away. The tour is definitely gonna go ahead" - Alex Lifeson, Classic Rock Magazine, May 2004
- New trial date set in Rush guitarist's battery case: "Alex Zivojinovich's defense attorney said he doesn't expect the trial to be held on the new scheduled date of June 14, which is a day after Rush is scheduled to perform in Bonner Springs, Kan. 'There is a lot of discovery left to do. The trial isn't looming anytime soon...We don't anticipate any problems with the tour'...Under terms of his bond, Alex Zivojinovich is allowed to travel." - Naples Florida News, May. 12, 2004
- Trial of Rush guitarist, son delayed until September: "The date for the battery trial of the lead guitarist and founder of the rock group Rush, and his son, was pushed back another three months Wednesday. Alex Zivojinovich, also known on-stage as Alex Lifeson, and his son Justin are scheduled to be tried the week of Sept. 13 in Collier County Circuit Court. The trial scheduled for Monday was postponed after defense attorneys told Judge Cynthia Ellis they need more time to prepare...Rush is scheduled to play concert dates in England and Scotland during the week of the trial, with shows already sold out in Birmingham and Manchester. Alex Zivojinovich is allowed to travel outside the country under the conditions of his bond, but it remains to be seen how his case would be disposed of by plea agreement or trial if he is scheduled to be out of Florida performing in a concert." - Naples Florida News, June 10, 2004
- New details of Rush guitarist's New Year's Eve arrest emerge: "A sheriff's deputy acknowledges he punched Alex Zivojinovich in the face as Zivojinovich was charging up the stairwell of the hotel to come to the aid of his son, Justin Zivojinovich, who was being zapped by a deputy with a stun gun known as a Taser...This much also is clear from numerous witness statements: Alex Zivojinovich thought deputy Stanford, the woman he is accused of pushing down the stairwell, had punched him in the face." - Naples Florida News, July 25, 2004
Rush shows no signs of fading: "Understandably, with the next court date Sept. 13, Lifeson has been advised not to talk about the specifics of the incident, but he did tell the Sun, 'We're so close to working it out. There's an ongoing investigation that's looking much more promising. And they've agreed to hear the trial in October. Hopefully, we'll get it all resolved before it even goes to trial.'" - Toronto Sun, Aug. 22, 2004
- Court date for Rush guitarist, son scheduled for Jan. 5: "A 'sounding' date, when the latest on the case is discussed by attorneys and the judge, has been scheduled for Jan. 5 for Zivojinovich and his son, Justin..." - Naples Florida News, Oct. 23, 2004
- Criminal case against Rush guitarist expected to be resolved next month: "...It has been more than a year since Alex Zivojinovich, known on stage as Alex Lifeson, was arrested for scuffling with Collier County sheriff's deputies at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples at a New Year's Eve bash ringing in 2004. He is facing two third-degree felony charges that could carry five-year prison sentences. Lawyers for both sides will update the judge on the status of the case at a hearing March 9...The hearing, called a sounding, was postponed from Wednesday after a judge granted a motion supported by the prosecution and Zivojinovich's defense attorney, Jerry Berry of Naples...Berry and prosecutor Rich Montecalvo had no comment when asked whether Alex Zivojinovich has been offered a plea bargain. Berry said most depositions are completed, with only a few loose ends to be tied up. 'It's fair to say there is a good chance the case will be resolved in March,' Berry said." - Naples Florida News, Jan. 6, 2006
- Trial date set for Rush guitarist after Ritz-Carlton altercation: "Alex Zivojinovich...is scheduled to stand trial May 16 on assault charges...But trial could be avoided if the state and defense reach a plea agreement in the meantime. A judge Wednesday scheduled an April 27 hearing to get an update on the case. At these hearings, a judge can accept a plea bargain." - Naples Florida News, Mar. 9, 2005
- Witness: Police mistreated Rush guitarist in ruckus: "For the past year, John Cannivet said he has had to bite his tongue as he's read distorted versions of an altercation he witnessed between the lead guitarist for Rush and Collier sheriff's deputies on Dec. 31, 2003. As an employee of The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, where the fracas occurred, he hadn't been allowed to comment, even though he saw first-hand what happened in the stairwell of the hotel. But now that he no longer works for the hotel, he has this to say: Collier County sheriff's deputies went way too far. 'It was extreme police brutality,' said Cannivet, who was the assistant manager of stewarding until leaving that job in January. 'The whole time all this was going down, I'm thinking, "God, what did these people do? It must have been something really bad." It just bothered me....They (deputies) didn't have to use that force,' he said. 'When they shot Justin (with a stun gun), Justin wasn't violent at all. He was walking with the police. All he did was quit walking.' He said Justin and a deputy had words, and he saw Justin quit walking, and then the deputy pulled his Taser out. He said Justin backed away into a corner, seemingly scared. He kind of put his hands up. He kind of froze, and then they shot him (with the Taser),' Cannivet said. 'If I were to describe what it looked like after he got shot, it looked like a severe seizure. He was just out of it because he was electrocuted for a long time. If you could have seen how bad he was twitching on the ground, and screaming and crying, because it hurt so bad.' As Alex Zivojinovich saw this unfold, he charged up the stairs to help his son, Cannivet said. 'And that is when the female officer threw him (Alex) down the stairs,' he said. One of the two felony battery-on-a-law-enforcement charges that Alex Zivojinovich is facing, which could carry a five-year prison sentence, accuses him of throwing Collier sheriff's Cpl. Amy Stanford down the stairs, causing her injury. Cannivet said that just isn't so. 'I watched the female cop (Stanford) throw him (Alex) down there. She was three stairs above him, and so she had leverage. She grabbed him by the throat and he went falling backward,' Cannivet said." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 10, 2005
- Resisting-an-officer charge against Rush guitarist's daughter-in-law dropped: "A judge has dropped a misdemeanor resisting-an-officer charge against the daughter-in-law of the lead guitarist for the rock group Rush...County Judge Ramiro Manalich on Monday granted a motion by Michelle's defense attorney, Michael McDonnell, to dismiss the only charge that was filed against Michelle. McDonnell said the prosecution charged her with resisting an officer without violence while deputies were involved in the course of an investigation. He argued before the judge that the "investigation" already had been completed by deputies when she was accused of resisting an officer, so the charge should be dropped. The judge agreed." - News-Press.com, Naples Florida News, Apr. 13, 2005
- Rush Guitarist May Testify During Trial: "The guitarist of the rock band Rush may testify this week in Naples during the trial of his son, who is charged with fighting with police during a New Year's Eve brawl at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. The son, Justin Shawn Zivojinovich, 34, of Canada, is charged with resisting arrest with violence in the alleged fracas. The charge carries a maximum five-year prison sentence..." - News-Press.com, Apr. 17, 2005
- Trial delayed for son of Rush guitarist: "A resisting-arrest trial for the son of the lead guitarist for the rock group Rush was scheduled to start Monday in Collier Circuit Court, but was delayed until Tuesday, April 19, to give the defense time to argue to have the case dismissed. Naples defense lawyer Michael McDonnell said he will argue today that deputies didn’t make a legal arrest on New Year’s Eve 2003 at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. Justin Zivojinovich sat in court Monday with his famous father, Alex, known on stage as Alex Lifeson in the internationally known rock group Rush, which recently took its 30th anniversary tour. Father and son were clad in dark suits and ties. Alex Zivojinovich faces trial in the coming weeks in connection with the fracas. Retired Senior Circuit Judge Charles T. Carlton is to decide today whether to throw out the case or allow the trial of Justin Zivojinovich to go forward at 9 a.m...McDonnell said he plans to use a similar argument in court this morning that resulted in a misdemeanor resisting-arrest charge recently being dropped against Justin’s wife, Michelle. McDonnell said the prosecution alleged that Michelle resisted deputies while they were in the course of an "investigation." The defense lawyer argued that the "investigation" already had been completed by deputies when she was accused of resisting an officer, so the charge should be dropped. The judge in that case agreed." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 18, 2005
- Jury selection begins in trial of Rush guitarist's son: "A defense attorney for the son of the lead guitarist for the rock group Rush argued Tuesday morning that the resisting-arrest charge should be dismissed, but the presiding judge didn’t immediately rule on the request. Retired Senior Circuit Judge Charles T. Carlton delayed ruling on the motion until later in the trial of Justin Zivojinovich. Naples defense lawyer Michael McDonnell argued Tuesday that deputies didn’t make a legal arrest on New Year's Eve 2003 at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples...A six-member jury was being chosen Tuesday morning with the selection process expected to wrap up after a lunch break. The prospective jurors were asked about their tastes in music, and most responded that they were fond of 'Easy Listening' music. 'It’s more or less Frank Sinatra,' a retired New Jersey firefighter said. 'I can’t get used to this music today.'...Carlton said he expects the trial to wrap up before the end of the week." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 19, 2005
- Judge ponders tossing out charge against son of Rush guitarist: "Opening arguments kicked off Tuesday afternoon in Collier County in the trial of the son of the guitarist for the rock group, Rush. In the meantime, the judge in the case said after the first full day of trial that he is still pondering a defense motion to throw out a resisting-arrest charge on the grounds that deputies made an illegal arrest...'Quite frankly, I'm loath to throw a case out or dismiss a case because of some stupid technicality...But I have to uphold the law. I've taken an oath and I want to make sure I'm making the right decision.'...Defense attorney Michael...McDonnell's argument is that when deputies took Justin into custody, at one point stretching his arms behind his back as they escorted him down the hallway of the Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Justin had committed no crime. McDonnell also said that whatever had happened previously in the ballroom of the hotel wasn't witnessed by deputies, and under case law that had to occur before an arrest. Justin Zivojinovich is accused of getting onto the house band stage at a New Year's Eve bash and being verbally abusive to Ritz-Carlton security, who called deputies. 'Mr. Zivojinovich had done nothing to constitute a felony (when he was taken into police custody),' McDonnell argued Tuesday morning. 'He had done nothing to constitute a misdemeanor, and even if he had, the fact of that conduct (in the ballroom) was not performed in front of the investigating officers.' McDonnell painted a picture of Justin Zivojinovich as simply having a joyous time on New Year's Eve in the ballroom...Many of the state's witnesses on Tuesday were Ritz-Carlton employees, who portrayed Justin as obnoxious and verbally threatening in the ballroom of the hotel...But McDonnell in his opening remarks reminded the jury that Justin isn't charged with any crime related to actions in the ballroom. The single charge he is facing accuses him of being violent as Deputy Christopher Knott was trying to arrest him in the hotel stairwell. McDonnell reminded jurors to focus on the incident in the stairwell and not judge Justin's ballroom behavior. 'It is not a crime to not dance well..He was dancing and having a good time. He's not on trial for that.'...McDonnell said when Justin moved his arm in the presence of Knott, he was trying to relieve the pain from being held in an awkward position where deputies had his arms stretched behind his back. 'Justin pulled his arm free. He didn't swing at anybody,' he said. But Montecalvo said in opening remarks that Justin broke free in the stairwell and swung his arms in a way that Knott felt to be a threat. He said Knott decided to use a Taser stun gun on Justin at that point, based on his training and experience. After the stun gun was administered, Alex charged up the steps of the stairwell and got involved in the fracas. An officer punched him in the nose, and Alex and a female deputy ended up rolling down the stairs. Witnesses give conflicting stories of who pushed whom. Collier sheriff's deputies are expected to take the stand this morning. The trial resumes at 9 a.m." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 20, 2005
- Charges reduced in trial of Rush guitarist's son: "A judge on Wednesday reduced the charge that a jury is considering against the son of the guitarist for the rock group, Rush. Justin Zivojinovich is now charged with a misdemenaor - resisting arrest without violence - instead of a felony. Retired Senior Circuit Judge Charles T. Carlton’s reduced the charge at the conclusion of the prosecution’s case and instructed the jury to come back at 1 p.m. to continue with the defense case. Defense attorney Michael McDonnell had argued Tuesday that deputies illegally charged Justin Zivojinovich on New Year’s Eve 2003 with one count of resisting an officer with violence, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. That charge was reduced to a misdemeanor by Carlton, who left the case for the jury to decide, rather than dismissing it. Misdemeanors carry a sentence, upon conviction, of no more than a year in jail." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 20, 2005
- Rush guitarist, son enter pleas to reduced charges: "The lead guitarist for the rock group Rush and his son accepted plea agreements on Thursday morning in which they will serve no jail time on charges related to a New Year's Eve 2003 altercation with Collier County Sheriff's deputies. Alex Zivojinovich, known on stage as Alex Lifeson, and his son Justin, will serve 12 months probation and pay court costs as part of the agreement. The state made the offer a day after a judge reduced the third-degree felony charge that Justin was facing down to a misdemeanor charge. The felony could have resulted in him serving five years in prison.
The agreement calls for Alex and Justin to plead no contest to a single misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence. Adjudication is being withheld, meaning there will not be a formal conviction on their records if probation is successfully completed..." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 21, 2005
- Click here to see court video - Apr. 21, 2005
- Click here to read Alex's statement. - Apr. 21, 2005
- Plea deal reached for Rush guitarist, son: "The lead guitarist for the rock group Rush and his son will not serve any prison time for the charges they were facing related to a New Year's Eve 2003 altercation with Collier County sheriff's deputies. When the week began, Alex Zivojinovich and his son, Justin, were facing felony charges that could have resulted in several years behind bars. On Thursday, each accepted a similar plea agreement that calls for a year of probation...As part of their 'no-contest' plea agreements, they must pay $190 in court costs, $25 in prosecution costs, and a still-to-be-determined amount for investigative costs. Alex is also required to pay restitution, with the amount to be decided later. A press release from the State Attorney's Office said it would be payable to the Ritz-Carlton, Naples hotel, where the incident occurred...Alex was facing two felony battery-on-a-law-enforcement officer charges that each carried a potential five-year prison sentence...Janeice Martin, a partner in the firm of Berry & Day that was the defense team for Alex, told the judge that Alex would like to show a gesture of appreciation to the community for its support throughout this ordeal. Alex Zivojinovich said he isn't sure right now what this will be." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 22, 2005
- No further review of use of stun guns in Rush guitarists case, CCSO says: "The Collier County Sheriff's Office plans no further review of the repeated use of stun guns on the lead guitarist for the rock group Rush and his son during their arrest.
...'We review the procedures (of Taser stun guns being shot). We do administrative review to determine that everything was done within current policies and procedures,' she said. 'In court, there is a different threshold that has to be met in order for criminal prosecution.' The Sheriff's Office requires deputies to file a report each time they fire a stun gun. In it, they justify their reasons for using it. That is reviewed by a supervisor, who determines whether an internal investigation is warranted. In this case, supervisors determined there was no need for an internal investigation...But one witness saw it much differently...John Cannivet, who was the assistant manager of stewarding at the hotel...said. 'When they shot Justin (with a stun gun), Justin wasn't violent at all. He was walking with the police. All he did was quit walking.' Mausen said sheriff's officials, including Sheriff Don Hunter, carefully scrutinized the details of the deputies' reports justifying the use of the stun guns in this case. Their conclusion: The deputies were in the right...According to witness statements, Alex went charging up the stairs to go to the aid of his son as Justin was being shot with the stun gun, and a deputy punched Alex in the face to prevent him reaching the arresting officer. Deputies also ended up shooting a Taser round at Alex, but both of the darts from the single shot didn't stick to his skin, so it didn't incapacitate him, Mausen said. So deputies then drove the stun gun against his body, known as a 'drive' stun move. She couldn't say how many times this occurred." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 24, 2005
- Editorial: Rocker-Ritz-Taser case leaves plenty for review: "...The outcome says plenty. First...there is a difference between loud behavior at a party and a crime. Second, it says the Sheriff's Office needs to redouble scrutiny of its policy on the use of Tasers — stun guns that pack an electrified jolt. The younger suspect, Justin Zivojinovich, was hit twice in the absence of clear evidence of him posing an immediate, violent threat to larger, trained officers. The public is all for full protection of officers in harm's way. Still, the public wants assurance that Tasers aren't used as self-fulfilling evidence that a suspect was out of control.
The Sheriff's Office now says it sees no need for further use-of-Taser review in the Zivojinovich case. Why not?..." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 27, 2005
- Rush guitarist, family sue Ritz, 3 Collier deputies: "A founder of the band Rush, his son and daughter-in-law filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Ritz-Carlton, its security director and three sheriff’s deputies stemming from a New Year’s Eve 2003 altercation at the Naples hotel. Alex, Justin and Michelle Zivojinovich allege the defendants violated their civil rights, battered and falsely imprisoned them before their arrests on criminal charges that were either later dropped or reduced in court...The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages for injuries, pain and suffering, mental anguish and the costs of their defense to the charges, filed in Collier County Circuit Court...The suit names as defendants HMC BN Ltd. Partnership, doing business as The Ritz-Carlton in Naples; Frank Barner, the hotel security director; and Collier County sheriff’s deputies Christopher Knott, Scott Russell and Amy Stanford...the deputies never gave Justin the chance to leave on his own accord, according to the suit. Instead, they physically restrained him and forced him to walk through a back hallway toward a stairwell leading to a rear entrance. 'During that time, defendants Knott and Stanford applied illegal and unjustified force, and such force was excessive, causing plaintiff Justin severe discomfort and pain,' according to the suit. As he was led away, Justin yanked his right arm from Stanford’s grasp to alleviate his discomfort. Stanford and Knott then forced Justin to the floor 'with excessive force. Defendant Knott then, again without legal authority or justification, applied the effects of a Taser gun consisting of some 50,000 volts of electricity on plaintiff Justin’s body with excessive force, causing further discomfort and pain,' according to the suit. Knott and Russell then hit Justin with the Taser again multiple times. He was then handcuffed by Barner with assistance from the three deputies. 'Plaintiff Michelle, in fear for the safety of her husband plaintiff Justin, verbally complained about the illegal and excessive force used against her husband and was arrested by defendant Russell without probable cause or any legal authority,' according to the suit. Alex Zivojinovich rushed to his son’s aid but 'was battered by defendants Stanford, Knott and/or Russell and Tased multiple times by one or more of the defendants.' All three Zivojinoviches then illegally were arrested, handcuffed and taken to the Collier County jail, according to the suit. The 33-count federal suit alleges that the defendants 'acted in unlawful conspiracy with each other to injure plaintiffs.' It alleges civil rights violations through illegal detainment and excessive and unnecessary force on each plaintiff. The suit also alleges negligence, false imprisonment and battery by the Ritz-Carlton, through Barner’s actions, on Alex and Justin. And it alleges malicious prosecution of Justin and Michelle..." - Naples Florida News, June 3, 2005
- The 48 page complaints (part 1, part 2), filed in Florida US District Court, Middle District, on behalf of Alex, Justin, and Michelle. - June 3, 2005
- Alex Lifeson's Legal Trouble Insider: "Embattled Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson sat down exclusively with MuchMoreMusic's Bill Welychka in Toronto recently to set the record straight, and speak for the first time about his alleged 2003 New Year's altercation in Florida - and the lawsuit he has now filed in response to the ordeal...'people don't know the truth,' Lifeson told Welychka. 'That's going to come out very soon. The case for the prosecutor started to crumble before our eyes and we realized they were applying a pressure on us that didn't really exist...It still hurts to read my name connected with "Spoiled, Rich, Drunk Rock Star Throwing Cops Down Stairs." That didn't happen.'" - Much More Music, June 9, 2005
- Alex's Statement To The Fans: "What a relief to be over this terrible ordeal and finally move on to better things. I felt completely violated for months after the incident at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida, on New Year’s Eve 2003, but I was also comforted by the concern from so many Rush fans who wrote or called me, who know me and what sort of person I am, and for their many letters to the press in support of my family and me. I must admit, it was also uplifting to see the surprise from the police and the Ritz Carlton when so many let their outrage be known. It was difficult to live in silence for 15 months, but now that we are pursuing a measure of accountability from those who beat, Tasered and jailed me without cause, I feel liberated and am ready to begin sharing the horror of that night and the ensuing 475 nights of fear and loathing. I have released a statement to the general press regarding my actions against the Ritz Carlton and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office that can be found on this site, and will hopefully begin to bring some clarity to the issue. I sincerely want to thank you all for your amazing support. After so many wonderful years together, I am humbled by the depth of concern and affection that Rush fans have had for us through our most difficult times, and will never, ever forget it. Thank you with all my heart." - Alex Lifeson, Rush.com, June 10, 2005
- Alex's Official Statement: "In like a lion, out like a lamb. These words appeared in a Naples Daily News editorial on April 27, describing the outcome of the criminal charges against my family and myself. After fifteen months of living in fear and anxiety, and the enormous physical and emotional toll that it took from all of us, the prosecution’s case began to crumble as the truth emerged and witnesses came forward to expose the behavior of these Collier County Sheriff’s Deputies and certain employees of the Ritz Carlton, a resort hotel reputed to be one of the finest in the world. As that part of this ordeal came to a close, I thought to myself that more than anything, I wanted to get my life back on track. I thought I could accept the fact that I was punched in the face so hard it ripped the cartilage from my nose, fracturing the bone and shattering my septum. I thought I could accept the incredibly painful nasal surgery and weeks of recovery, and the discomfort I feel every night when I go to sleep. I thought I could accept the fact that I was Tasered six times, twice while lying face down in a growing pool of my own blood, and so severely that it burned bloody holes in my back. I thought I could accept watching my son get electrocuted numerous times as well, and erase the memory of his screams of pain and terror. I thought I could accept being imprisoned for two days without a phone call for over fourteen hours. I thought I could accept the innuendo of those who don’t know me and believed I was just some spoiled, drunken rock star. I thought I could accept watching my daughter-in-law, through a crack in the prison door, as tears streamed down her face because she was unlawfully jailed and separated from her two months old son. I thought I could accept the deep depression my wife, the woman I love without measure and who shares my soul, struggled through for months, fearing for her husband and son…what was I thinking? Out like a lamb. All of that for nothing. All because of the bitterness of a few Ritz Carlton hotel employees on the most festive night of the year and their incredibly discourteous, arrogant and aggressive behavior of which I had never experienced in thirty years of travel. All because of three confrontational, intimidating, enraged deputies who wouldn’t even consider dialogue, who were so quick to reach for their Tasers and handcuffs when no crime was committed. All because of a prosecutors’ office blind to the reality of instances of excessive force by police and the horrendous destruction of innocent lives forever changed…what were they thinking? In like a lion. The legal action we are embarking on now will hopefully bring attention to the fact that people cannot and should not be treated this way. I was fortunate to have the resources and will to fight to the end, but there are many who don’t and they will forever suffer from the forced compromise of an unfair plea bargain or the threat of sentencing guidelines that demand imprisonment, that hang over one’s head like the sword of Damocles. If some good is to come of this, then let it be that the actions of a tiny minority of aggressive, Taser wielding police officers don’t tarnish the reputation of the vast majority of officers who proudly serve their communities with honor and sacrifice. I sincerely believe they deserve our utmost respect, but respect is something that must be earned and not demanded with a closed fist or an electrifying weapon…that’s what I’m thinking." - Alex Lifeson, Rush.com, June 10, 2005
- Deputies file countersuit against Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson: "Two of the deputies who arrested the founder of the rock group Rush during a New Year's Eve 2003 altercation filed countersuits against him alleging he battered them as they tried to force his son to leave the Ritz-Carlton in Naples. Lawyers representing the hotel and three deputies involved in the arrest filed court papers arguing they acted properly when they ejected and arrested Justin Zivojinovich, who had become disorderly and was asked to leave the party..." - Naples Florida News, Oct. 2, 2005
- Rush band members want to join lawsuit brought against Collier deputies: "In an amended complaint recently filed to a civil lawsuit, Alex Zivojinovich's fellow band members could now become plaintiffs in the case...Zivojinovich's lawyer Michael McDonnell said the actual damages to the band add up to 'tens of millions of dollars.' The amended lawsuit states that the injuries suffered by Zivojinovich at the hands of deputies caused a reduction in the band's touring performances and recording sessions, which resulted in a loss of revenue...'My only thoughts are that I simply don't know of any evidence of that (loss of band revenue),' Giuffreda [a Fort Lauderdale attorney who represents the deputies] said. 'You can allege anything you want in America. Ultimately,you have to prove it...It seems to me that Alex and his son Justin really got a break. The State Attorney's Office gave them kind of a deal. They still pled out to criminal charges, which means they don't have a false-arrest claim. It's just a matter of if too much force was used. I don't know why they are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, considering Justin's behavior was way unacceptable, ' Giuiffreda continued. 'He was drunk and getting on stage and disrupting entertainment there, and he was offered every opportunity to leave peacefully.'" - Naples Florida News, Nov. 12, 2005
- Classic Rock Magazine's 'The Dirt' (monthly column): "I was determined to fight it to the end because I know what happened that night. The police in Florida can be brutal. At a dinner at the Ritz-Carlton, some guest in a tuxedo gets up on stage and says: 'Happy New Year everybody'; there's no way they should be beaten up and thrown down a flight of stairs. My nose was punched in and broken, I was tazered six times. But I was never going to let them get away with that. Although their evidence was so flimsy, our lives were dragged through a nightmare for 15 months. I spent $300,000 fighting the thing, but was advised to accept [the plea bargain]. It wasn't about the money, more exposing the things the police so often get away with. In 30 years of touring with a rock band, do you have any idea how many times I could have got myself into trouble? I'm a grandfather, a family guy. Had someone spoken politely to us and said: 'Sir, would you please get down from the stage', there would have been no issue. I may be crazy, but I'm not a maniac. Aged 50, and in one of the finest hotels in America - it's insane to suggest that I would pick some fight with three huge cops." - Alex Lifeson, Classic Rock, Feb. 2006
- Suit alleges arrest hurt full Rush band: "Alex Zivojinovich’s injuries and criminal charges cost the band a lot of time in the recording studio. It interrupted part of its 30th anniversary world tour. And the pending case hindered his international travel, even though he was out of jail on bond and was allowed to leave the country. 'Basically what we’re talking about is a very unique organization,' Naples attorney Michael McDonnell said of his clients, not only the band but its corporations. 'They’re up there with the Beatles and the Stones, and because it’s a unique organization you can’t just replace one of the members.'...'We’re prepared to show there were tens of thousands of dollars worth of damages. It’ll be up to a jury to determine how much to award,' McDonnell said." - Naples Florida News, Jan. 22, 2006
- Between a Rock (Star) and a Hard Place: "Lifeson says he was hurt by the comments that accused him of being drunk and beligerent. In fact, he never intended to go out for New Year's, he says, and only attended the event because of friends. Still, the celebration was kept to a minimum - after all, Lifeson had an early morning golf game scheduled the next day with his friend and PGA Tour player, Rocco Mediate. And he never spat blood on anyone, he maintains. But after his nose was broken, Lifeson relates, he had great difficulty breathing, which led to blood spraying as he attempted to catch his breath...'Some of the headlines in Canada said it was 'rock 'em, sock 'em night,' which was really insulting since they had no idea what actually happened,' Lifeson says, noting he struggled with depression and was deeply wounded by some of the post-arrest coverage. 'But it is behind me now.'" - Ontario Golf Magazine, Early Summer 2006 Issue
- Judge tosses bandmates' claims over Rush guitarist's 2003 scuffle: "A federal judge has ruled that band members Geddy Lee Weinrib and Neil Peart, who weren't in the skirmish in 2003, don't have legal standing to argue they lost business due to the lead guitarist's injuries in the fight...Weinrib and Peart allege their tour and recording suffered business losses as a result of Zivojinovich's injuries. But a federal judge declared this argument shouldn't be part of the lawsuit. 'The court doubts that there is a free-standing claim under Florida law for "loss of business revenue,"' states a ruling by U.S. District Judge John E. Steele...Lawyers from both sides said they expect that Alex Zivojinovich's case will go to trial some time close to Feb. 5, 2007. [Zivojinovich's Naples lawyer, Michael McDonnell] said the band members are quality people. 'This is not a rock 'n' roll band that trashed a hotel. This is a very fine human being who was a guest of the hotel who got trashed by the hotel,' he said." - Bonita Daily News, Aug. 9, 2006
- Rush To Judgement, a parody printed in the wake of the of the recently denied civil action by Peart & Lee against the Ritz-Carlton Naples, in which a Rush fan sues the band for damages caused by his being a Rush fanatic. - OrlandoWeekly.com, Aug. 18, 2006
- "In a nightmarish few seconds of unbelievable violence, Alex and Justin were both brutally beaten and shot by Taser guns, ten times altogether. Alex found himself face down on the landing in a pool of his onwn blood, his nose broken, then he was cuffed and hauled away to jail. In growing horror and disbelief, he was held for the two worst days of his life, and charged with several felony offences of assualt against the deputies. He faced not only automatic prison time, but felony convictions that would ban him from the United States forever...Alex was shocked at the way he and the other prisoners were treated, even as suspects, not convicted felons. The jailers played psychological games, taunting the inmates with food, keeping the cells uncomfortably cold, flaunting their power, and making them feel small..." - Neil Peart, Roadshow
- Judge says deputies acted properly in Rush guitarist fracas: "U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson has ruled against the civil claims brought against Collier deputies by Alex Zivojinovich...Zivojinovich, his son, Justin, and daughter-in-law, Michelle, had filed suit, alleging that the deputies violated their civil rights based on 'illegal detention' and 'excessive force.' But Magnuson, in his ruling issued through the U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida’s Fort Myers division, didn’t agree. The judge ruled that the deputies’ actions 'we’re objectively reasonable.' 'In sum, the plaintiffs have not established that any of the defendant deputies violated their constitutional right to be free of excessive force,' Magnuson wrote in his recent ruling. The judge ruled that the deputies are entitled to qualified immunity on all of the excessive force claims. Magnuson’s ruling means the trial that was slated to occur this month won’t take place. The judge also ruled that the Ritz hotel and its security employee, Frank Barner, weren’t negligent in the case...And the judge ruled that Barner didn’t use excessive force on Justin Zivojinovich when he handcuffed him with Deputy Christopher Knott’s permission...Despite the recent ruling, the Zivojinoviches aren’t ready to give up on their civil case. Zivojinovich’s Naples defense lawyer, Michael McDonnell, said he plans to appeal. The deputies’ attorney, Fort Lauderdale attorney Richard Giuffreda, said he believes this judge’s ruling will be affirmed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which is a court one notch down from the U.S. Supreme Court. Magnuson’s ruling also dismissed 'without prejudice' deputy Knott’s battery claim against Alex Zivojinovich, which means it can be revised and filed again. 'I have to refile it (that case) in state court. It is going to proceed forward,' Giuffreda said. Stanford, who suffered injuries after tumbling down the stairwell with Alex Zivojinovich during the scuffle, also has a pending lawsuit against him in state court. 'It’s been very stressful for them (the deputies) that they have been accused of these things falsely, and they are very happy this is behind them, at least at this point,' Giuffreda said." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 11, 2007
- Rush guitarist reacts to court decision: "'I was quite shocked with the judge's ruling, as all my lawyers were shocked. And I think that if you probably asked the defendant's lawyers, they would have to admit that they were surprised, too. The ruling was just so overwhelming.' Lifeson also told us that he still believes in his case, so he and his lawyers will continue to move forward: 'All we can do is go to appeal. I know what happened to me - I know what happened in that stairwell, I know the brutality of these police officers, and I know the way the hotel behaved. And, you know, someone else's opinion is someone else's opinion, but I was there, and I know what it was like.'" - TheRockRadio.com, Apr. 17, 2007
- Collier deputy fired for sexually harassing women: "According to an internal investigation obtained Monday by the Naples Daily News and reported on naplesnews.com, Cpl. Christopher Knott, who started with the agency in January 2003, was fired in January after it was revealed he grabbed the shorts of a woman working at a local restaurant and told her he wanted naked pictures of her. Another investigation revealed that Knott, 32, had been 'checking out' a woman in a shopping center parking lot, and then pulled the woman over in Lee County for what she deemed to be no apparent reason." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 17, 2007
- Rush guitarist pursues lawsuit: "The legendary Canadian rocker says he's appealing a U.S. court decision that last month cleared officers of wrongdoing in the sensational melee that also involved his son at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Naples, Fla., on New Year's Eve 2003...'I didn't sleep for months...Not more than two hours. I was in total fear. My wife was in a deep depression and that was killing me to see that. She was worried that her husband and her son were going to jail and they were threatening me with 30 years in prison at the time. Like, I'm not the first person that's been beaten up in Florida ... but I can't just not do something. I can't just let it go...We have thousands of pages of documents, we have about 15 witnesses, we have video, we have so much compelling evidence of the brutality that we went through that night...To have it just thrown out, and to have a judge, who advocates me being punched in the face twice by two cops, breaking my nose and Tasering me six times, (deem it) as adequate and appropriate conduct on the part of the police, that's not right.'" - May 2, 2007
- Brent Batten: Sheriff: S.O. doesn’t stand for Sigma Omega: "Sheriff Don Hunter bristled Wednesday at the suggestion that the Sheriff’s Office, a testosterone-heavy workplace if there ever was one, had morphed into a giant frat party...A lonely piece of good news for the sheriff — the dismissal last month by a federal judge of an excessive force lawsuit brought by Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson stemming from his arrest three years ago at The Ritz-Carlton on Vanderbilt Beach Road — was tempered. Knott, one of the deputies named in the lawsuit, had already been fired when the decision came down. Amy Stanford, another defendant in the Lifeson case, was on the losing end of a separate civil court decision in which a jury ruled she improperly detained a man under the state’s Marchman Act. The jury ruled Hunter should pay the man $250,000 in damages." - May 2, 2007
- Rush's Alex Lifeson: The Interview: "It was a horrible, horrible experience that still continues four and a half years later. I was having dinner at one of the most elegant resort hotels in the country, and the way we were treated....I was beaten up, I had my face punched in by three cops, I was Tasered six times, my son was Tasered twice. And we didn't do anything! I was dragged through for 15 months before the criminal end of it was sorted out. I was charged with five felonies, and all of them were dropped. What does that tell you? So I took legal action. It's been a real fight. The Ritz-Carlton is a big corporation, and they have a big, powerful law firm. All I ever asked was my day in court.... It's been an uphill battle at every stage of the way. I didn't make a big deal of it, even though it was eating away at me every day. I wanted it to be sorted out and I wanted my chance in a court of law to deliver the facts as I know them, as well as the 12 other witnesses that we were bringing. I try not to think so much about it these days and let it happen the way it's going to happen. We're waiting for a ruling on the appeal and then we'll see where we go. I've never been in a fight in my life! I'm a grandfather. I'm very proud of the work that I do. I set high standards for myself and my family. I love my family and I'll protect my family with my life. For that, I've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend myself, and I get run over. I had a great lawyer, and the facts of the matter were what they were. But I'm telling you that in Collier County, which is a very conservative part of Florida, the sheriff's department....they're mean guys. It's a big force, and they exercise a lot of force. I've seen them pull over a car with old ladies, cotton-tops, and the deputy had her out of the car with her hands on the back of the car like something out of 'Cops.'" - April 19, 2008
- Federal Appeals Court Reinstates Part Of Rush Guitarist's Lawsuit: "A federal appeals court reinstated part of the rock star's lawsuit, ruling that it's up to a jury to determine whether lies and embellishments by a Ritz-Carlton night manager caused Collier County sheriff's deputies to use force and Tasers to subdue guitarist Alex Zivojinovich's son, Justin, during a 2003 New Year's Eve party. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that a jury must decide whether statements made by a Ritz-Carlton night manager set off a series of events that caused injuries to Justin Zivojinovich. The reinstated claim involves remarks made by Ritz night-shift manager Frank Barner...The unanimous decision by the three-justice panel, handed down April 23, overturned a claim in an April 5, 2007 ruling that granted summary judgment to the defendants. The order, which affirmed all remaining defense claims involving the hotel, a manager and three deputies, means the son's case will be heard by a federal jury — unless the hotel settles the lawsuit involving events at a $500-a-plate, black-tie party that rang in 2004. Three deputies named in the lawsuit already were fully cleared when U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson, sitting in Fort Myers, dismissed the lawsuit on April 5, 2007. The appeals judges ruled that when Barner and front-desk employee Azure Sorrell allegedly lied to a dispatcher and when Barner allegedly lied to Deputy Christopher Knott, they knowingly put Justin Zivojinovich at greater risk of physical injury. As a result, they ruled, it became more likely that deputies would use force in removing him from the hotel if they believed he'd indicated force would be necessary to make him leave. 'We conclude that, under Florida law, Barner and the Ritz had a duty not to lie to law enforcement in a way that increased the risk that a guest would suffer injury,' the judges wrote in their 31-page ruling. 'Sorrell breached this duty when she said that 'disorderly people' were 'just basically trashing the place[,] . . . jumping on furniture, [and] ripping things apart' because this was untrue and, by exaggerating the severity of Justin's misbehavior, she increased the risk that the deputies would use force to remove him from the premises.' The judges ruled that when the Ritz sold Justin Zivojinovich a ticket to the New Year's Eve dinner, it had a duty to its guests to protect him from harm due to reasonably foreseeable risks of injury. 'A reasonable jury could find that, but for Barner falsely telling Knott that Justin had responded belligerently to the threat of sheriff's deputies being called, Justin would not have been injured or that his injuries would not have been as severe,' the judges wrote. Naples attorney Michael R.N. McDonnell said the Zivojinoviches were very pleased with the ruling, but the reversal wasn't unexpected. 'I was really surprised at the initial judge's ruling, but I wasn't surprised by the appeal's court ruling,' McDonnell said Tuesday, adding that Alex Zivojinovich had to undergo surgery for a broken nose and a painful recovery, as well as numbness in his hands for a year due to being handcuffed. McDonnell has 15 days from April 23 to file a motion for a rehearing, but also may consider an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court...Richard Giuffreda of Fort Lauderdale, the attorney for the sheriff's office, said his clients are happy because it left all claims involving the sheriff's office untouched. 'Justice has been served,' Giuffreda said. 'There is nothing to appeal.' 'Alex has lost completely,' he added. ' ... The Sheriff and the Sheriff's deputies involved have won the appeal as to all claims brought against them by all three of the plaintiffs: Alex, Michelle and Justin Zivojinovich. ... The plaintiff's owe my clients costs of nearly $60,000 because they lost.'...
Court records provide this account: Justin Zivojinovich had been dancing boisterously and twice got onstage where bands were playing, at one point asking the audience to cheer the band. The second time, his father also jumped onstage, playing a conga drum for a few seconds. Later, at 11:15 p.m., when Justin Zivojinovich began dancing with a male friend, Barner radioed the front desk, asking Sorrell to phone the sheriff's office to have him escorted out and to issue a trespass warning. She told the dispatcher two disorderly people were 'just basically trashing the place . . . jumping on furniture, ripping things apart' and couldn't be controlled by Ritz security — an account that wasn't true. To ensure they had all necessary information, Barner also called a dispatcher to say two disorderly people were screaming and yelling, jumping on stage, commandeering the bandstand, and giving band members a hard time. He said he'd warned Justin Zivojinovich, but he yelled back, cursing and carrying on. At the time, Barner hadn't spoken with Justin Zivojinovich. Deputies Knott, Scott Russell and Amy Stanford arrived and Barner exaggerated the events and claimed Justin Zivojinovich cursed and yelled when asked to leave the stage. As his son was escorted out, Alex Zivojinovich pleaded with deputies, saying it was New Year's Eve and they hadn't done anything as his son asked to be allowed to go home. Stanford warned the father to stand back and later pulled Justin Zivojinovich's right arm up, prompting him to scream that she was hurting him. As they entered a stairwell, he pulled his arm away, straightening it. Knott pushed him, causing Zivojinovich and Stanford to fall down the stairs, where Zivojinovich landed on his chest and Stanford fell over him. A struggle ensued, with deputies using Tasers and Stanford hitting the elder Zivojinovich's face, and Russell punching him and breaking his nose. Although the elder Zivojinovich was paralyzed after being hit with a Taser, a deputy shot again. Justin's wife, Michelle, went to help her husband. After they were handcuffed and led out, the elder Zivojinovich questioned Knott's actions, spewing blood as he spoke and prompting Knott to accuse him of doing it on purpose. The father and son were charged with a felony charge of resisting arrest with violence, which is punishable by up to five years in a state prison, but pleaded to a misdemeanor resisting charge and were sentenced to probation. Michelle Zivojinovich was charged with a misdemeanor, but it was dismissed." - Naples Florida News, Apr. 29, 2008
- Ritz-Carlton Settles Lawsuit With Rush Guitarist’s Son: "A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit involving a rock band Rush guitarist’s son who was punched and hit with Tasers at a 2003 New Year’s Eve party at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples, after attorneys agreed to a settlement. U.S. District Judge John E. Steele, who sits in Fort Myers, recently dismissed the lawsuit. Attorney Michael R.N. McDonnell of Naples, who represented Zivojinovich, declined comment, saying only, 'It’s resolved. Everything is confidential.'...In a separate lawsuit filed in Collier Circuit Court, Stanford sued Alex Zivojinovich in July 2005, citing permanent and progressive injuries that included neurological and dental damage that required implants. She and her attorney, Paul Finizio of Fort Lauderdale, went through mediation with Zivojinovich and attorney Paul Weekley, but reached a 'total impasse' in February. In March, court records show, they settled and Zivojinovich paid her $75,000 for her injuries. Stanford’s signed 'release of claims' says the settlement is the 'compromise of a doubtful and disputed claim and that the payment is not to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of Zivojinovich.' Although it wasn’t sealed in the court file, the three-page release says the terms are confidential and not to be disclosed to the public or media without consent of the parties involved. Finizio declined comment, citing the confidentiality clause." - Naples Florida News, Aug. 22, 2008