Referee files lawsuit against Lexington sports radio hosts

FILE - In this March 26, 2017, file photo, Kentucky head coach John Calipari argues a call with referee John Higgins in the first half of the South Regional final game against North Carolina in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Memphis, Tenn. Referee John Higgins of Omaha has contacted law enforcement to report he’s received death threats after Kentucky’s loss to North Carolina in the NCAA South Regional final. A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that Higgins reported threats on his home phone, which has an unlisted number, and on the office phone for his roofing company. The person requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The referee some fans blame for Kentucky's NCAA tournament loss filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Kentucky Sports Radio blaming it for firing up fans to threaten him and his business.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Nebraska, John Higgins is seeking in excess of $75,000 from KSR and its operators Matt Jones and Drew Franklin.

Higgins says he was concerned for his safety after his Nebraska roofing company became the target of threats.

Higgins was one of the officiating referees during the University of Kentucky's Elite 8 match-up with North Carolina. Many fans and commentators questioned some of the calls made, and not made, during the game.

"Just because it's their team doesn't give them the right to threaten somebody's life and disrupt their business," John Higgins told WOWT-TV in Omaha, Nebraska, shortly after the threats began. "It's not right."

The sheriff's office in Sarpy County, Nebraska said investigators uncovered five legitimate threats among 3,000 phone calls, as well as Facebook comments and more than five hours of audio from an unspecified call-in radio show.

In the lawsuit, Higgins claims KSR publicized his business and contact information and encouraged upset fans to contact him and bogus reviews from Kentucky hurt his businesses customer ratings.

After the loss, police in Nebraska and the FBI checked into thousands of voice messages left at his roofing company. Some of those messages included death threats, according to a person at Higgins's business.

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