Lawsuit Claims House Candidate Highfill Disfigured University of Iowa Roommate, Brandished Shotgun
A trial date has been set for the lawsuit, which claims Jake Highfill caused a nine-inch gash to the face of his University of Iowa roommate, Carson Kness.
A lawsuit filed against Iowa House District 39 Republican nominee Jake Highfill claims that he brought a shotgun to a college party, argued with his roommate during the event and smashed a glass bottle across the man's face, permanently disfiguring him.
Highfill denies any wrongdoing.
The lawsuit filed in Polk County District Court claims Highfill assaulted his roommate and lifelong friend, Carson Kness, at the University of Iowa by striking him with a glass bottle.
Kness, also a Johnston resident, seeks monetary damages for past and future medical recovery, physical and mental pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement, permanent disability, lost wages and miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses. Trial is set for Jan. 28, 2013. The lawsuit was filed last year, on Oct. 13.
The lawsuit alleges that during a house party in Iowa City on Oct. 16, 2010, Highfill caused permanent disfiguration of Kness's cheek.
Highfill, when contacted by Patch Thursday, said he could not comment on the case, but his attorney denied the allegations. In court papers he has said any actions he took were in self-defense.
The 22-year-old Highfill won the Republican primary this month for the newly redistricted House 39 seat, which covers Johnston, Grimes and a portion of rural Polk County west of Saylorville Lake.
In court documents filed in November 2011 by Highfill's lawyer, Sarah Franklin, he denies Kness's allegations.
Highfill claimed in court documents that the party took place in October 2009. He stated that "any actions taken by the defendant were done in self-defense."
In a statement to Patch, his attorney, Sarah Franklin, said: "This lawsuit stems from an unfortunate series of events at a social function. Jake Highfill denies any wrongdoing; Jake was reacting in self-defense and no criminal charges were filed. Jake strongly denies the allegations made in the petition and is vigorously defending the lawsuit."
Kness claims that Highfill appeared downstairs among guests carrying a shotgun. Kness did not know if the gun was loaded, but asked Highfill to secure the gun in a safe location away from guests.
Words were exchanged and ultimately Kness was struck by Highfill with a glass bottle across the left cheek, according to the lawsuit.
Steve Banks, of Banks Law Firm LLC in Waukee, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Kness.
On Thursday, Banks characterized the assault as "unprovoked and an over-reaction that left my client permanently disfigured."
Kness immediately sought emergency care for the nine-inch laceration that required 39 stitches.
The incident left Kness with a "severe and permanent scar," the lawsuit states. The assault resulted in the development of keloided/hypertrophied scarring.
"I think once he realized that he was always going to have the scar and it dwelled on him, it's quite a sacrifice," Banks said of the decision to file the lawsuit. "He sought all the medical attention he can and sought the maximum received and it still remains. He and I agree that there is damage here that someone needs to be accountable for."
Banks said Kness did not file a police report following the incident because he and other guests did not want "to cause any trouble."
The lawsuit was not brought up during the spring campaign for the Iowa House seat.
Highfill defeated incumbent Erik Helland in the June 5 primary. He will face Democrat Kelsey Clark in the November general election.
Early this year, Highfill accused Helland of bribing him to drop out of the race in exchange for a job. The Iowa House Ethics Committee dismissed the allegation.
Banks said the lawsuit was filed before Highfill announced his candidacy in January.
"In regards to my representation of Mr. Kness, (Highfill's) running for office has no bearing on what we are trying to accomplish," he said.