Rush Guitarist Sues Over Florida Hotel Altercation

Lawsuit names three sheriff's deputies for illegal arrest, excessive force.

Less than two months after accepting a plea bargain that spared him a possible 10-year prison term, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson has gone on the offensive.

On Thursday, attorneys for Lifeson (born Alex Zivojinovich) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, Florida, against three Collier County sheriff's deputies, claiming they'd used excessive force when arresting him following a New Year's Eve 2003 altercation at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel restaurant in Naples, Florida, according to a report by The Associated Press.

The suit — which seeks unspecified monetary damages for injuries, pain and suffering, mental anguish and the legal defense fees — additionally names Lifeson's son Justin and daughter-in-law Michelle as plaintiffs, while the hotel and its director of security were also listed as defendants.

Lifeson was celebrating the advent of 2004 with relatives and friends at the hotel when the incident occurred (see "Rush Guitarist Considers Suit Alleging Police Brutality"). Lifeson's son and some of his friends riled the hotel's security staff when they climbed onto a performance platform, where the house band was taking a break, the AP reports. Security called deputies in to escort Justin from the premises, and "applied illegal and unjustified force, and such force was excessive, causing plaintiff Justin severe discomfort and pain."

When Alex Lifeson tried to intervene, police broke his nose and zapped him four times with a stun gun. A Taser gun was also used to subdue Lifeson's son. The suit also alleges Michelle Zivojinovich was arrested illegally, after complaining about the excessive force used against her husband.

According to Lifeson's arrest report, the Canadian guitarist shoved a female officer down a stairwell — a charge he's denied — and spat blood in another officer's face. Lifeson, who was described in police documents as being "extremely intoxicated" and "extremely violent" at the time of the melee, spent two days in jail, on charges of aggravated battery on a law-enforcement officer, resisting arrest and disorderly intoxication.

On April 21, Lifeson and his son accepted plea agreements, calling for them to each plead to a single misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence. Both were sentenced to a probationary period of one year, and ordered to pay court costs, according to the AP. A charge against Lifeson's daughter-in-law — resisting arrest without violence — was dropped on April 11.