Months before Alex Rodriguez eventually dropped a medical malpractice lawsuit against a New York Yankees team doctor, the Bronx Supreme Court judge presiding over the case held a hearing in his chambers in late March 2014 to discuss a potential video deposition of Rodriguez.
Judge Douglas McKeon recommended then that lawyers on both sides agree not to disseminate any such video. Rodriguez’s attorney at the time, Alan Ripka, had filed a protective order earlier in 2014, arguing that any video deposition of his client “would cause unreasonable annoyance, embarrassment and disadvantage,” particularly if it made its way into the public.
Ultimately, the matter was rendered moot after Rodriguez, the plaintiff, decided to drop the suit in June of that year, but if the litigation had continued and Rodriguez was deposed by video, there was the potential for the slugger to have to testify under oath about portions of his past that he might have wanted to remain private.
“The threat of video deposition was not a factor in the ultimate outcome,” Ripka said in a recent interview, referring to the discontinuance of that malpractice suit.
Seven years later, Rodriguez is scheduled to be deposed by video in a different legal matter, where this time he is the defendant. A years-long civil suit filed by Rodriguez’s former brother-in-law, Constantine Scurtis, has a firm trial date set for August 2, and according to court documents, the plaintiff’s attorneys will depose Rodriguez by video at 9:30 in the morning, May 13, in Miami at the law offices of Roche Freedman, although the deposition date is subject to change.
Scurtis, the younger brother of Rodriguez’s ex-wife Cynthia, originally filed the civil complaint in late 2014 in Florida state court, and the legal battle stems from a real estate venture Scurtis and Rodriguez started together in 2003. Scurtis claims in the lawsuit that he was forced out of the company in 2008 and accuses Rodriguez of breach of fiduciary duty, among the numerous counts leveled against the former slugger. There are also accusations of insurance and mortgage fraud, and earlier this year, racketeering and civil theft claims were added to the latest amended complaint.
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Judge Michael Hanzman, who is presiding over the case, signed an order Wednesday that Rodriguez and the other defendants in the case have to turn over scores of financial records by May 5, including “financial reports, ledgers, tax returns, Schedule K1s, bank statements, checks, invoices, reconciliations and balance sheets.” (K1s are tax forms related to income made through a business partnership). In mid-March, there was a mediation hearing held between the two sides, but no settlement was reached, according to court documents.
Ripka said at the core of any video deposition is whether or not that method is “probative or prejudicial.”
“Someone’s mannerisms might be different in a video deposition, and attorneys might think it’s more effective with how they defend or prosecute a case,” said Ripka.
While Rodriguez, 45, was under the PED spotlight in 2013 and 2014 during the Biogenesis scandal and its aftermath — he served a season-long doping ban all of 2014 while he was still a New York Yankee — it’s unclear if Scurtis’ attorneys would explore that checkered portion of Rodriguez’s past in a video deposition. It’s more likely that he would be asked questions about his business dealings in the company he and Scurtis started, as well as the alleged mortgage and insurance fraud outlined in the Scurtis lawsuit.
A spokesperson for Rodriguez did not respond to a request for comment, but earlier this year, Lukacs Sr., Rodriguez’s attorney in this civil case, issued a statement that said in part: “To be clear, we view Scurtis’ claims as baseless and absolutely dispute liability for all claims asserted.”
Lukacs also said Scurtis’ claims against Rodriguez are “part of his scheme to impugn and shakedown Rodriguez for money which Scurtis is not entitled to,” although Scurtis’ complaint has survived numerous motions to dismiss filed by Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez continues to make headlines on numerous fronts. He and former Walmart president and chief executive officer of e-commerce Marc Lore signed a letter of intent to purchase the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA Minnesota Lynx from Glen Taylor. The NBA’s Board of Governors would still need to approve any transfer of ownership and Rodriguez and Lore would need 75% of the vote.
Last year, Rodriguez and former fiancee Jennifer Lopez were part of a group that made a run at trying to buy the New York Mets, but ultimately they lost to billionaire Steve Cohen. Rodriguez and Lopez recently issued a joint statement to the Today show announcing their split.
Rodriguez is still an ESPN and Fox baseball analyst, and he has numerous other business interests, but barring a settlement with Scurtis, A-Rod’s spring and summer schedules will include separate stops to a Miami law office and a Florida courtroom.