CHICAGO (jGLi) – The $5-million defamation case filed by Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao in 2009 against American boxer Floyd Mayweather who was charged with blabbering that Pacquiao was beating his opponents with the help of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) had the makings of a blockbuster jury trial but it suddenly came into a screeching halt last Tuesday (Sept. 25) when the U.S. District Court of Nevada in Las Vegas approved the dismissal of the case.
It is hard to tell who of the two judges – presiding Judge Larry R. Hicks or referral Judge Robert T. Johnston — presided over the settlement as “Document 243” (Stipulation of Dismissal) was filed in court under seal.
But Judge Johnston’s order on the motion to compel last Friday, Sept. 21, appeared to have broken Mayweather’s will to move forward with his defense.
The order actually contained two resolutions of two pending motions – motion to compel discovery and motion for sanctions – filed by Mayweather’s lawyers which Judge Johnston had both denied.
In the motion to compel discovery, Mayweather’s lawyers led by Mark G. Tratos was asking Pacquiao to produce his U.S. Federal and other tax returns from 2008, 2009 and 2010; “complete and accurate copies of any and all financial statements from any and all checking accounts, savings account, or other financials accounts from 2008 to 2011;” endorsement deals, fights and promotional contracts “from 2008 to present:” incomes from pay-per-view and HBO; and other parties such as his promoter Top Rank; reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees in making this motion; and sanctions.
TAX RETURNS, OTHER FINANCIAL INFO “NOT RELEVANT AND HIGHLY PRIVATE”
In his answer to the motion that was kept under seal, Pacquiao’s lawyers led by David Marroso said Mayweather’s “requests fall into three categories of materials: (1) documents Pacquiao has already produced to the Defendants (Mayweather); (2) documents that do not exist; and (3) all of Pacquiao’s financial statements and tax returns from 2008 forward without any limitation.”
Pacquiao also argues that the motion to compel discovery should be denied, “because his tax returns and other financial information, personal expenses, savings account information, etc. (are) ‘simply not relevant and highly private.’”
Using the “clean hands principle,” Mayweather argued if Mr. Pacquiao is seeking “millions of dollars of damages, at least partially attributable to lost income, (as a result of the alleged defamation), yet (he) refuse(s) to identify and produce documents that support such contention.”
Pacquiao, however, maintained that his claim only pertains to “’his ability to earn the highest levels of compensation,’ as it relates to his status as a professional boxer… (and) only financial information that relates to his boxing is relevant.”
In ruling for Pacquiao on the motion, Judge Johnston said Mayweather’s “request for broad personal financial information, such as checking and savings accounts, and information regarding Pacquiao’s overall income will be denied.”
After Pacquiao “produced all his promotional boxing agreements since 2006 and all of his bout agreements since 2007 and identified all monies he received from his promoter for each of his 12 bouts from November 2006 to November 2011,” Mayweather asserted, “that this is insufficient.” Judge Johnston described Mayweather’s request as “unnecessary and will be denied.”
“NO REASON TO DOUBT PACQUIAO’S EFFORT”
After Pacquiao provided Mayweather “his endorsement contracts, he has been able to locate after diligent search,” Judge Johnston said, “(b)arring evidence to the contrary, there is no reason to believe that Pacquiao has deceived the Defendants or misrepresented his efforts. The Court has no reason to doubt Pacquiao’s efforts to obtain the endorsement contracts. The Defendants’ request will be denied.”
The court, however, will allow Mayweather “to inquire of the Plaintiff (Pacquiao) and third parties regarding the existence of other endorsement contracts that Pacquiao may not have located and produced.”
While both parties have acknowledged tax returns are generally discoverable only if the information is relevant and “not otherwise available,” Judge Johnston said, “That is not the case here. The Defendants are able to obtain the information through other means. The Defendants request for Pacquiao’s tax returns will be denied.”
Although the motion to compel was denied, Judge Johnston found it “substantially justified” but will not be awarding reasonable cost, including attorney’s fees, as a sanction.
The case appeared to have unraveled last Monday, Sept. 17, when Judge Larry R. Hicks ordered Mayweather to award Manny Pacquiao’s lawyers $113,518.50 and additional $774.10 in court cost in favor of Mr. Pacquiao for Pacquiao’s lawyers dogged but failed effort to depose and prepare motions to have Mayweather deposed.
In a proposed joint stipulation of dismissal with prejudice and order filed by lawyers of both parties last Tuesday, Sept. 25, it was agreed that
“1. All claims against all parties to the above-captioned action are hereby dismissed with prejudice. Specifically, Plaintiff Emmanuel Pacquiao hereby dismisses with prejudice his defamation claim against Defendants Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Mayweather Promotions, Floyd Mayweather, Sr., and Roger Mayweather; Defendant Floyd Mayweather, Jr. hereby dismisses with prejudice his defamation counter-claim against Emmanuel Pacquiao.
2. Each party shall bear its own attorneys’ fees and costs.
3. This matter is concluded in its entirety and shall be dismissed, subject to this Court maintaining jurisdiction over matters related to the parties’ settlement agreements.”
Lawyers from both parties did not respond to email messages for comment sent by this reporter.