Two boxers and a trainer were collectively awarded more than $380,000 Monday in their lawsuit against a boxing promoter who they alleged lured the trio to the U.S. from the Philippines promising to help them in their careers, but instead used all three for domestic work and in his marijuana business.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Malcolm Mackey conducted a non-jury trial of the case brought in June 2020 by fighters Recky Dulay and Rey Perez and trainer Cenon Tagalog Jr. against Reynaldo Rodis Jr. and his company, Rodis Entertainment Digital Inc., which he owned in addition to the marijuana business, Broccoli House.
At the time the lawsuit was filed, Tagalog was 48 years old, Perez was 29 and Dulay was 26.
The suit alleged fraud, negligent misrepresentation and various state Labor Code violations. Rodis did not take part in the trial.
The judge awarded Perez $163,512, Dulay $136,632 and Tagalog $82,784 for a total of $382,928. The judge also granted the plaintiffs $50,000 in attorneys’ fees.
According to the suit, the three plaintiffs dreamed of “making it big in the world of professional boxing” and were induced by Rodis to leave their homes in the Philippines for Los Angeles.
“They did not know they would be used as free labor,” the suit stated. “The plaintiffs felt like they were prisoners and wanted to leave.”
The three were forced to toil long hours as domestic servants and work at Broccoli House, where they did re-packing and distributing, the suit stated. Rodis said he would report them to immigration authorities and harm their relatives in the Philippines if they left, the suit stated.
Rodis forced Tagalog to build a recording studio inside his marijuana business and Tagalog’s only compensation was a daily food allowance of $10, according to the suit.
Rodis is the former manager of Dulay and Perez, the suit states.
Tagalog escaped from Rodis in 2018 by telling him he would return from a trip to the Philippines, the suit states. He did not come back despite Rodis’ alleged threats against his family, according to the suit.
Perez and Dulay escaped in 2019, the suit stated. Perez was helped by a good Samaritan and Dulay by one of his former trainers, the suit stated.