Umpire Joe West awarded $500,000 in defamation lawsuit against Paul Lo Duca

Major League Baseball chief arbitrator Joe West received $ 500,000 plus interest from the New York Supreme Court for his defamation lawsuit against Lo Duca. The lawsuit arose out of Lo Duca’s allegation during a podcast that reliever Billy Wagner, a former New York Mets teammate, bribed West to use a larger strike zone during his bats by letting him use his 1957 Chevrolet.

“We’re playing like a very close game against the Phillies and Billy Wagner is coming out of the bullpen,” Lo Duca said (via USA Today) in April 2019 on Action Network, which was released from the lawsuit last summer. “I went to the hill every time and asked myself, ‘What’s going on? ‘and he says,’ Hey, Joe is behind the plate. Set another couple of inches inward. I said, ‘Are you kidding me? Joe hates me. ‘He says,’ No, no, no, no, no, no. Joe loves me. ‘

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“I’m going, ‘He hasn’t given us the corner all day.’ He says, “Don’t worry.” He literally throws 10 pitches and knocks out three guys. Joe calls all three. Eight of the nine pitches were at least three to four inches inside, not even close. Boys threw bats and everything. Joe leaves the field …

“I go back to the clubhouse and ask myself, ‘What the hell just happened?’ And Wagner just winks at me and I ask, “What’s the secret?” He says, ‘Eh, Joe loves classic cars, so every time he comes into town I lend him my ’57 Chevy to drive him around so he can open the strike zone for me. ‘ “

A furious West, well on its way to passing the Hall of Famer Bill Klem for most umpires in the next month, filed a lawsuit. He said the story was fabricated and alleged the comments could affect his chances of being elected to the Hall of Fame. According to the decision, a Hall of Fame election can mean at least $ 250,000 a year for gigs and card shows.

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The 66-year-old veteran Ump only worked at home once when Wagner and Lo Duca were teammates in 2006/07 and Wagner was not featured in the Phillies-Mets game according to multiple reports. A four-time All-Star, Lo Duca played in the majors from 1998-2008 and despite West’s disapproval, his story gained momentum as it was shared by a range of media outlets.

“The court appreciates the plaintiff’s testimony that his integrity and character are the most important measures in assessing the quality of an umpire or player in order to determine whether or not he will be elected and inducted into the Hall of Fame , John J. Kelley, New York Supreme Court Justice, wrote in the decision (via the Associated Press). “The plaintiff expressed legitimate concern that Lo Duca’s false assertion about his integrity and character may not be elected to the Hall of Fame for the same reasons as Joe Jackson, who is otherwise an excellent player, Pete Rose and Barry Bonds were or were not elected.

“He also expressed concern that it would be difficult to fully repair his reputation, especially with a special committee of baseball managers and former players selected by the Hall of Fame directors to select referees for is responsible for inducting into the Hall of Fame. “

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Kelley added that “the widespread circulation of the defamatory statement at issue here, the nature of the statement, and the plaintiff’s legitimate concern about the possibility of the statement not being elected to the Hall of Fame.” It is said to have led West to “$ 250,000 for past mental agony and stress” and an additional $ 250,000 in compensation for “expenses he will need to keep a PR firm to formulate and operationalize a sufficient reputation restoration plan.” .