Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter has been sued by the bouncer he allegedly punched and tried to choke after being thrown out of a Key West bar earlier this month.

“This is the first step toward justice,” Mark G. DiCowden, the attorney for 21-year-old Skylar Carden, told Newsday. “He’s suing for the physical damages which Carter inflicted on him and he’s also suing for pain and suffering and for mental anguish.” The suit seeks unspecified damages.

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In a separate statement, DiCowden said Carter “has shown the world that he is nothing more than a backstreet thug. Even though Nick Carter is a celebrity, he is no different from anyone else when it comes to respecting the rights of others. Mr. Carden was just doing his job to maintain order and didn’t deserve to be attacked -- getting beaten up by patrons is not part of his job description.”

Carter, who turns 36 on Thursday, is free on $1,500 bail and has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge after a Jan. 13 scuffle at the Hog’s Breath Saloon in Key West. He and a relative, Michael Papayans, 27, had been escorted from the bar after displaying what witnesses called intoxicated and aggressive behavior. The two blocked the bar entrance and argued with staff until Carter threw “what appeared to be a punch” at Carden, according to the police report. One witness told police Carter then “grabbed [Carden] by the throat,” leading other bouncers to take the singer to the ground.

On Sunday, in apparent reference to the incident, Carter tweeted, “I am human and at times it can be a struggle to balance a healthy lifestyle. I’m not perfect and for that I am sorry.”

“Carter’s backhanded apology in the form of a tweet was a crude attempt to control public relations and did nothing to address his remorse for the harm he caused Carden,” DiCowden said in the statement. “No amount of fame or fortune justifies Carter’s shameful and outrageous conduct. To send him that message and deter his misbehavior in the future, we will seek punitive damages against him as allowed by Florida law.”

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Carter’s representative did not respond to a Newsday request for comment.