A summer trial was set Friday for former Major League Baseball All-Star Lenny Dykstra’s malpractice suit against a law firm he hired after he was allegedly beaten by deputes in the Men’s Central Jail, but a judge ordered both sides into mediation even though attorneys said they doubt a settlement is likely.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen Czuleger scheduled Dykstra’s trial against Boucher LLP for July 21, but said the trial could be moved up to March if another case he has scheduled that month settles. But he said he wants the parties to take another chance at mediation between now and then and report back to him on April 17.
Boucher LLP was the lead law firm in the landmark $660 million sexual-abuse settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2007.
Attorney Frank Nemecek, on behalf of Boucher, told the judge he is not encouraged a settlement will be reached given that a “very generous” offer the defense put on the table was previously turned down by Dykstra. Plaintiff’s attorney Dan Terzian said a resolution could depend on the outcome of pretrial motions that will be heard in March.
Czuleger, who was recently assigned the case, also said he will address Dykstra’s celebrity background with prospective jurors, given that some likely will be familiar with him from his playing days. The judge, however, said he does not know the former outfielder well.
“I don’t do baseball,” Czuleger said.
Dykstra filed the complaint in February 2017, alleging professional negligence, breach of contract, fraudulent concealment and that the firm put its interests ahead of Dykstra’s.
The suit alleges Boucher LLP lawyers did not conduct meaningful trial preparation and discovery during a 14-month period, actions amounting to “attorney misconduct and client abandonment.”
The suit further alleges lawyers for Boucher did not do enough to determine the involvement of numerous deputies in the alleged 2012 beating or request the extra time needed to serve them with the complaint. Dykstra’s complaint against the deputies was filed in April 2014. He hired Boucher to begin representing him in the case in September 2015, the suit states.
Lawyers for Boucher LLP state in their court papers that Dykstra repeatedly lied to the Boucher attorneys and that they eventually realized they had little or no chance of winning his case. When the Boucher attorneys met with Dykstra in September 2016 to tell them they were withdrawing their representation, he fired them shortly after the meeting began, according to the Boucher attorneys’ court papers.
Dykstra dropped what remained of his case against the deputies in December 2016 while he was being represented by a different lawyer. The decision came two months after Judge Daniel Murphy, citing immunity, ruled that Dykstra could not move forward with the part of his case against Los Angeles County. Murphy also tossed allegations against a sheriff’s sergeant, leaving one deputy as the remaining defendant in the case.
According to Dykstra’s first suit, deputies on April 5, 2012, entered his cell and assaulted him for no legitimate reason. He claimed they slammed his head against a wall, that some of his teeth were knocked out and he that he was left barely breathing.
The suit alleged the jail system was “fueled by abusive violence.” Defense attorneys maintained in their court papers that Dykstra became combative.
Dykstra also alleged he was beaten again later at Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, where he was treated for injuries from the jail incident. Dykstra said deputies at the hospital punched him in the face at least twice, causing him to lose at minimum one tooth.
The alleged beatings took place the same month Dykstra pleaded no contest to exposing himself to women he met on Craigslist. He was already serving time for grand theft auto and providing a false financial statement, and would later be sentenced to six months for bankruptcy fraud.
Dykstra was released in June 2013 and filed suit the following April.
He played for the New York Mets from 1985-89 and Philadelphia Phillies from 1989-96. He was selected to play in the 1990, 1994 and 1995 All-Star Games.
Dykstra, 56, was not present in court Friday. Nicknamed “Nails” for his hard-nosed demeanor as a player, he was born in Santa Ana and raised in Garden Grove.
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