Two BYU students who were arrested at the University of Utah for selling T-shirts with a red U on them are suing the school for more than $350,000.
The students were arrested before a 1994 football game between BYU and U of U.
Stephen Jenkins, a graduate in business management, and John Paul Kennedy Jr., who will graduate in April with a combined MBA and law degree, sold the shirts for about $10 each.
According to the suit filed at the 3rd District Court Friday, they took about 40 shirts to Salt Lake City for the big game. There they were arrested.
According to a Salt Lake Tribune article,the shirts had “Y ask Y?” on the front, and “Mama said … Knock U Out!” on the back. The Y was blue, the U was red and the other letters were black. Jenkins and Kennedy claim Russell Messerly of the U of U Bookstore told the university police to arrest them for abusing what he claimed was the school’s trademark — the crimson-red U.
Kennedy said they were not on the U of U campus, but were standing on a sidewalk near the campus when an officer approached them, restrained them and took them to the police office.
“They held us, then cited us and finally let us go quite a bit later,” Kennedy said.
“It was not a fun situation to be in. It was just horrible. That’s why we’re taking this action. We’re hoping they won’t do it to anyone else,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy and Jenkins sold about 200 shirts near BYU without any trouble. The people here were very friendly to deal with, Kennedy said.
Kennedy said they sold the T-shirts near campus and some at Cougarbilia. He said they thought about copyright issues and understood that since they were using only letters of the alphabet, they shouldn’t have had a problem.
In the complaint filed against the U of U, the students said that not only did they lose income because of the arrest, but the students were needlessly humiliated by Messerly.
The students are each seeking $150,000, plus at least $50,000 in punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and filing costs.
“We’ve had all kinds of problems and it’s been a traumatic experience,” Kennedy said. “There have been substantial attorneys’ fees as well,” he said.