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Fla. Nightclubshooting victims sue rapper

PENSACOLA – Victims of a 2006 Florida nightclub shooting are suing the rapper Plies, claiming he has increased his credibility in the violent gangsta rap world and made money because of their suffering.

The five victims had non-life threatening gunshot wounds after a fight broke out between his entourage and another rapper at the club in Gainesville.

An amended lawsuit filed Wednesday in Alachua County Circuit Court adds the rapper’s brother and his record label, Big Gates Records, to an existing civil suit against Plies, whose real name is Algernod Lanier Washington. The lawsuit was originally filed in April 2008.

Plies pleaded no contest to illegal possession of a concealed weapon found after the shootings and served no prison time. The plaintiffs’ lawyers say the rapper makes references to the shooting in his lyrics and has generally used it to promote his street credibility.

“The irony is that when you criminally prosecute (gangsta rappers) their stock goes up,” said Chad Roberts, a Jacksonville-based attorney representing the shooting victims. “It’s hard to punish them. The only way to punish them is to hold the record company accountable.”

Robert Rush, Washington’s Gainesville-based attorney, called the suit “baseless propaganda.” He said his client didn’t have a gun in the club and that it’s not clear who fired the shots that harmed the plaintiffs.

He also accused the plaintiff’s attorneys of trying to grab publicity by amending a lawsuit that had been stagnant for months in a county court.

“This is defamation of character, and it is all false. If his music wasn’t any good, he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. This happened four years ago, his record sales are not doing great because of this,” Rush said.