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Miller sued by former Ute teammate

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Former University of Utah basketball star Brandon Jessie is suing his former teammate, Andre Miller, over a car accident last year that caused Jessie "severe, permanent physical and emotional injuries."

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in 3rd District Court by Jessie and his wife, Harper Jessie, names Miller, his mother, Andrea Miller and Lesoni Lutua, from Midvale, as defendants. Andrea Miller was the owner of the van her son was driving, and Lutua was the driver of the other car involved in the crash.

On April 24, 1999, Brandon Jessie, Miller and two others were driving back from horseback riding in Price when they stopped to buy beer, the lawsuit states. Andre Miller, who was driving his mother's van, did not consume any beer.

Brandon Jessie was asleep in the back seat when the van, traveling about 35 miles per hour, ran a red light at 1300 South and 900 East, the lawsuit states. The van did not have seat belts in the rear seat. Another car, driven by Lutua, struck the left side of the van, causing it to roll over and come to rest on its roof.

"Lutua was operating his motor vehicle while intoxicated, as his blood alcohol content, immediately after the accident, was .17 percent," the lawsuit states. Utah's blood alcohol legal limit is .08 percent.

Miller was allegedly negligent in driving the van because he did not maintain proper lookout, failed to yield the right-of-way, and was driving at an excessive speed, the lawsuit states. His mother, Andrea Miller, was also negligent because she "had altered the vehicle and removed the seat belts located in the rear bench seat, where plaintiff Brandon Jessie was seated," the lawsuit alleges.

Lutua also allegedly failed to maintain proper lookout, yield the right-of-way and to drive at a reasonable speed, the lawsuit states.

As a result, Brandon Jessie suffered serious injuries that have "radically changed" his lifestyle "on a permanent basis," the lawsuit states. The lawsuit seeks unspecified past and future medical expenses, loss of wages and earning capacity and permanent disability damages to be proven at trial.

Jessie, who transferred from a junior college to become the U.'s star basketball player during the 1995 and 1996 seasons, signed a free-agent contract with the NFL's New York Giants in March 1997. After spending the season on injured reserve, he was released before the 1998 season.

Miller, a former U. point guard, was selected eight overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1999 NBA Draft.

E-MAIL: hans@desnews.com