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Boxing refs Wayne Hedgpeth, Raul Caiz Jr. & Sr. file $100M racial discrimination claim against Andy Foster & California State Athletic Commission

By Zach Arnold | July 23, 2018

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What is the value of officiating a championship prize fight?

A recent claim letter filed by attorney John E. Sweeney on behalf of boxing referees Raul Caiz Jr. & Sr. along with Wayne Hedgpeth seeks $100 million dollars in damages. The claim letter states that Hedgpeth & Caiz Junior/Senior have been racially discriminated against by California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster and that the beneficiary of the alleged discrimination were white referees — primarily Jack Reiss.

The legalese

State and Federal Government agencies have sovereign immunity. The California Tort Claims Act states that you have to file a damages claim with a state agency and wait 45 days for a response. The agency can either: a) accept the damages request, b) offer a settlement, c) respond with a formal rejection, or d) ignore the claim letter. Not issuing a response is legally deemed as a rejection.

In order for the claim to be within the statute of limitations, the last alleged tort act must take place within 180 days of the claim letter being filed with the state agency.

Demands in the claim letter

Fight Opinion filed a Public Records Act request with the California State Athletic Commission to get a copy of the damages claim. The Athletic Commission immediately responded by stating they had not received a claim letter from attorney John E. Sweeney. The agency’s reply cited Government Code 915, which deals with amended or late claim letters.

The agency claimed that if the letter was filed with the Department of General Services, DGS had not sent the Athletic Commission a copy.

After this response, we were able to independently obtain a copy of the amended damages claim letter. The letter was dated April 27, 2018 and supposedly sent via certified mail with return receipt requested. It was allegedly sent to both the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Athletic Commission’s office.

What the claim letter states

Quoting from the letter:

For the past five (5) years and continuing to date, the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs and the California State Athletic Commission have engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination against the licensed State of California Boxing Offices listed [Hedgpeth, Caiz Jr. & Sr.].

The system used by the California State Athletic Commission in assigning boxing officials, including referees and judges, to championship fights is not based on merit but on the sole discretion of an Executive Officer, Andy Foster.

Of the approximate 47 licensed fight officials in California, 33 are minorites (70.21%). Yet, the majority of championship fights for the period indicated above have been assigned to Caucasian officials.

Even when international boxing sanctioning bodies such as the International Boxing Federation (“IBF”) and both opponent fighters and their representatives have agreed to use certain Claimants, the California State Athletic Commission has refused to honor their request and assigned a Caucasian referee to those fights.

Claimants have suffered general damages and a loss of earnings and earning capacity.

Claimants will bring causes of action in their forthcoming lawsuit for discrimination based on a violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (California Civil Code 51), California Government Code Section 11135, California Civil Code Section 43, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other related causes of action.

All of the required elements for each cause of action can be viewed in the 2018 Judicial Council of California jury instructions. Based on the claim letter, it appears any future lawsuit would be filed in state court.

The Los Angeles Sentinel interviewed Mr. Sweeney last week and he commented on what the details of an impending lawsuit would look like.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | 3 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

3 Responses to “Boxing refs Wayne Hedgpeth, Raul Caiz Jr. & Sr. file $100M racial discrimination claim against Andy Foster & California State Athletic Commission”

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