By Zach Arnold | September 10, 2013
Remember the defamation lawsuit John “Juanito” Ibarra filed against Tito Ortiz (and many others) in June of 2009? Rampage Jackson apparently remembers and, according to court documents filed last month, allegedly isn’t being very cooperative in the discovery & deposition process.
The lawsuit (BC415273), filed in Superior Court of Los Angeles County, has a show cause hearing next week. On Halloween, there is a drop date dead for Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to produce documents asked for by Ibarra’s attorney, Sam Smith, and also to give a deposition that supposedly has been put off for several months after multiple requests. In other words, the motion to compel & sanctions filing. The irony, of course, is that Rampage and Tito are fighting each other in Bellator, were friends but are now enemies in TNA, and are co-defendants in Juanito Ibarra’s lawsuit. A small world.
On June 5th, 2009, Ibarra filed the instant lawsuit against Defendant Ortiz and his company Punishment Athletic Enterprises (“PAE”) and numerous media outlets alleging, inter alia, causes of action for defamation, invasion of privacy (false light), intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
While the lawsuit is filed against Ortiz, Rampage Jackson is a key defendant. The lawsuit lists a ton of defendants (here are a few for example): Yahoo Inc, The Hearst Corporation, Punishment Athletics, Punch Drunk Gamer, Kris Karkoski, Houston Chronicle, Sam Caplan (Bellator matchmaker), Cage Potato, Break Media, Bloody Elbow, and Ballhype.
On July 20, 2010, media defendant Punch Drunk Gamer objected to discovery moving forward pending resolution of its appeal. The Court again stayed all discovery in the case. Since that stay, discovery in this litigation has been repeatedly stayed as a result of anti-SLAPP motions and pending appeals. On May 1, 2013, the Court of Appeal issued its remittur in the most recent appeal, at which time discovery could continue.
If no settlement is reached, a tentative jury trial date would be next Spring/Summer. We’re probably looking at another 8-10 months at least in waiting time, probably 14-16 months more likely.
From the Points and Authorities:
This is a straightforward motion to compel Defendant Quinton Ramone Jackson (“Jackson”), the original publisher of libelous statements made of and concerning Plaintiff JOHN IBARRA (“Plaintiff”), to sit for his duly noticed deposition. Although Defendant Jackson continues to make time to speak to media outlets to make defamatory remarks about Plaintiff, Mr. Jackson refuses to make time to attend his deposition.
Mr. Jackson has failed and refused, and continues to fail and refuse, to provide a single date that Mr. Jackson and his counsel are willing to appear. After making false and defamatory comments about Plaintiff, Defendant Jackson should be eager to testify about the purported true facts supporting disparaging statements about Plaintiff.
Next, the requests for documents & deposition:
On May 23, 2013, Plaintiff served Defendant Jackson with a deposition notice and document requests.
On June 7, 2013, Defendant served boilerplate and deficient responses to Plaintiff’s Notice.
On June 10, 2013, Samuel J. Smith (“Smith”), Plaintiff’s counsel, sent an email to counsel for Defendant Jackson, seeking to obtain alternative dates for Defendants Jackson to sit for his duly noticed deposition. Therein, Mr. Smith explained that Mr. Jackson failed and refused to appear for deposition in response to a properly served deposition notice. Mr. Smith informed counsel for Jackson that in order to avoid filing of a motion to compel seeking appropriate sanctions, he needed to receive dates of availability for counsel and Mr. Jackson to appear for deposition. Mr. Smith also noted that Mr. Jackson’s solitary objection to the entirety of the request for production of documents was improper.
Mr. Smith received no response to his June 10, 2013, effort to meet and confer with Mr. Jackson’s counsel.
On August 1, 2013, Mr. Smith renewed his efforts to meet and confer with Mr. Jackson’s counsel, via email. Mr. Smith again explained that he wished to avoid a motion to compel and needed alternative dates from Mr. Jackson’s counsel.
On August 2, 2013, Defendant’s counsel explained that he had relayed the need for alternative dates to this client, but had not received a response.
On August 5, 2013, Mr. Smith again sought dates from Defendant and his counsel, but Defendant’s counsel was apparently unable to provide such dates, instead offering to “work out” an extension. Mr. Smith’s subsequent email and telephone call to work out such an arrangement went unreturned by Defendant’s counsel.
Whether Mr. Jackson’s refusal to make himself available for his deposition is the result of gamesmanship or a failure to take the legal process seriously, the Court should not countenance his ongoing conduct.
Plaintiff’s request is simple: he should be permitted to take the depositions of the original speaker of false and defamatory allegations at the core of this litigation. Despite all efforts to avoid bringing a matter as trivial as scheduling before the Court, Plaintiff has been left with no other option. This Court should not permit a party to refuse to appear for deposition and subsequently refuse to agree to appear at a mutually-convenient time. The court should order Defendant Jackson to produce all documents responsive to Plaintiff’s requests accompanying the notice and to appear for deposition within ten (10) days of the order.
With Halloween as the drop dead date for Jackson to cooperate with Ibarra’s side on document production & deposition, the clock is ticking. Once the depositions start, that is when the real fun begins. Quinton doesn’t strike me as someone who I would be very comfortable with getting grilled hour after hour in a law office as a lawyer is setting him up for a line of questioning with documentation to fall into a trap of his own making. Just an opinion.
Rampage apparently has no trouble flying to wherever TNA and Bellator wants him to go. I don’t think a judge will look very favorably at him not cooperating with a deposition request.
Since the filing last month, nothing has allegedly changed in terms of response from Rampage’s side.