A man who alleges he was subjected to strong-arm tactics after asking to be paid $8.6 million for helping to set up Manny Pacquiao’s fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. can move forward with all of his claims against the Filipino fighter’s trainer, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Sotelo denied defense motions to dismiss five of the nine alleged causes of action that Gabriel Rueda filed against Freddie Roach, including attempted extortion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unjust enrichment.
Rueda filed his lawsuit in February 2016, naming Pacquiao, Roach, CBS, Showtime Entertainment and Keith M. Davidson, described in the plaintiff’s court papers as a lawyer for “Roach, Pacquiao and a few other powerful people.”
Lawyers for Roach maintained that the remarks Davidson made to Rueda amounted to protected speech that were part of a settlement offer to avoid a lawsuit.
“The very existence of this lawsuit … confirms that the possibility of litigation existed at that time,” Roach’s lawyers stated in their court papers.
But in his written ruling, Sotelo said Rueda’s claims are not barred by the litigation privilege.
Rueda’s suit states he served CBS President Leslie Moonves while working at Craig’s restaurant in West Hollywood and told Moonves he could introduce him to Roach in order to break the ice between Al Haymon and Bob Arum, the promoters for Mayweather and Pacquiao, respectively.
The lawsuit states that Rueda arranged a meeting between Roach and Moonves, with an agreement that he would get a 2 percent finder’s fee of gross fight proceeds paid to CBS, Showtime Network, Pacquiao and Roach.
Davidson, on behalf of Pacquiao and Roach, met with Rueda a month later at a coffeehouse at Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, according to the lawsuit. Davidson told Rueda that if he did not accept a $50,000 settlement proposal and sign a release, he would lose his job at Craig’s and “never work as an actor in this town again,” the suit alleges.
In his ruling, Sotelo said that after the 48-hour deadline passed for Rueda to accept the order, members of Roach’s Wildcard Gym “terrorized plaintiff for several weeks.”
Because Roach owns the gym, an inference can be inferred that the trainer directed his gym members to harass Rueda, Sotelo found.
“Additionally, Roach and the gym members came to plaintiff’s restaurant, laughed at him, forcefully grabbed his wrist and threw it downward, used offensive epithets and demanding that plaintiff be fired,” Sotelo wrote.
Attorneys for Pacquiao, Davidson and CBS have appealed Sotelo’s previous rulings in which he rejected arguments that allegations should be dismissed against the three defendants on free-speech grounds.
—City News Service