Milwaukee judge refuses to dismiss Braun lawsuit
MILWAUKEE (AP) — A lawsuit filed against Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun will go forward after a judge refused to dismiss the most serious allegations leveled by a friend who says the slugger sought his help in fighting a failed drug test, then balked on paying him and disparaged him when asked why their relationship soured.
Braun was the first star to be suspended as part of the doping scandal surrounding the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Florida. The five-time All-Star tested positive for elevated testosterone in October of his 2011 NL MVP season and later accepted a 65-game suspension.
In a lawsuit filed in August, Ralph Sasson said Braun’s agent hired him in November 2011 to do legal research aimed at clearing Braun a month after the testosterone report. The agent later asked him to investigate the man who collected Braun’s urine, Dino Laurenzi Jr., and Braun personally asked him to prank call two journalists working on a story about the failed test.
Sasson said Braun and his agent, Onesimo Balelo, paid him the agreed-upon $7,000 only reluctantly and Braun later lied when asked why his relationship with Sasson soured.
Braun attorney Howard Weitzman previously denied the allegations, and the slugger and his agents, Creative Artists Agency, asked Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Van Grunsven to dismiss the lawsuit.
Van Grunsven dismissed seven of the 12 counts Wednesday but let stand the most significant ones, including libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and fraudulent misrepresentation. Three involve Braun, and two involve his agents.
Attorney Jeremiah Reynolds, who works with Weitzman, did not immediately respond to a message left Thursday requesting comment.
Sasson said he was open to talking about a settlement but expected the case to go to trial.
“While I am pleased with yesterday’s outcome, it is merely a first step in the long and arduous process of holding Ryan Braun, Nez Balelo and Creative Artists Agency accountable for their fraudulent actions and flagrant misconduct,” he said in a statement. “As such, my primary goal at this juncture is to avoid any procedural missteps and take this matter to trial.”