UPDATED: 15 FEBRUARY 2023 AT 9:09 PM
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Las Vegas attorney has been fined $335,000 for making a bid in U.S. courts to compel Cristiano Ronaldo to pay millions of dollars more than the $375,000 To pay hush money he paid to a Nevada woman who was claiming the national team player In 2009, a soccer star raped her in Las Vegas.
“I find that Ronaldo would not have incurred the majority of the fees and expenses he has incurred in this lawsuit had not plaintiff’s attorney been in bad faith,” U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey said in a scathing, 18- side judgement.
The Las Vegas judge held plaintiff Kathryn Mayorga’s attorney, Leslie Mark Stovall, personally responsible for paying Ronaldo’s attorneys, led by Peter Christiansen and Kendelee Works.
Stovall and co-workers on the case, Ross Moynihan and Larissa Drohobyczer, did not immediately respond Wednesday to email and phone messages about Tuesday’s verdict.
In a related case, a Nevada state judge who accidentally nearly made long-sealed and long-contested documents public in August denied Stovall’s request for a court order to unseal important documents, including a Las Vegas police report on Mayorga’s rape complaint against Ronaldo.
“The decision on confidentiality is final,” Clark County District Court Judge Jasmine Lilly-Spells said in her ruling, also released Tuesday.
Lilly-Spells pointed to Dorsey’s previous decisions to keep the results of police investigations private from the public, a 2010 non-disclosure agreement between Ronaldo and Mayorga, and allegedly stolen recordings of attorney meetings between Ronaldo and his attorneys.
The New York Times began a battle to release the Dorsey recordings in federal court, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal took the case to Lilly-Spells in state court.
Christiansen welcomed the federal and state court rulings and earlier findings in a US judge’s case in Las Vegas, saying they show that “hard-working judges don’t allow attorneys to abuse the system.”
But the verdicts aren’t the end of more than four years of litigation.
Stovall is seeking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to reverse Dorsey’s dismissal last June of Mayorga’s civil suit, which was filed in state court in September 2018 and brought in federal court in January 2019. If Stovall also appeals the fine, the appellate judges could consider the matter together.
The Associated Press does not generally name individuals who say they have been victims of sexual assault, but Mayorga, through Stovall and Drohobyczer, has agreed to make her name public.
Mayorga is a former model and teacher who lives in the Las Vegas area. Her lawsuit says she met Ronaldo at a nightclub and went with him and other people to his hotel suite, where she claimed he assaulted her in a bedroom. She was 25 at the time and he was 24.
Ronaldo, now 38, is one of the most recognized sports stars in the world. He captained the national team of his native Portugal and played professionally in Spain for Real Madrid and in Italy for Turin-based club Juventus.
In December he accepted a lucrative offer to leave his second spell at English Premier League side Manchester United and play for Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr. According to media reports, the deal could bring Ronaldo up to $200 million a year by June 2025. That would make him the highest-paid footballer in history.
Mayorga’s lawsuit alleged that Ronaldo or his associates breached the confidentiality agreement they signed nearly a decade before publishing an article titled “Cristiano Ronaldo’s Secret” in 2017 based on documents from “whistleblower portal Football Leaks”.
Stovall claimed Mayorga never wanted to be named publicly and did not break the hush money agreement. Their lawsuit aimed to overturn them, accusing Ronaldo and his representatives of conspiracy, defamation, breach of contract, coercion and fraud.
In documents filed in 2021, Stovall estimated the damage at $25 million plus attorneys’ fees.
For years, Christiansen and Works have fought on multiple fronts to keep the confidentiality agreement from the public. They alleged Stovall abusively used Mayorga to try to capitalize on Ronaldo’s fame and fortune.
Stovall argued that Mayorga, now 39, had learning disabilities as a child and was so pressured by Ronaldo’s lawyers and representatives that she was unable to drop a criminal complaint she filed shortly after meeting Ronaldo and accept the $375,000.
Ronaldo’s legal team does not deny that Ronaldo met Mayorga and they had sex in June 2009, but claim it was consensual and not rape.
Dorsey’s ruling this week summarized lawsuits Stovall described as “attempts to resolve a year-long settlement agreement regarding serious allegations of potentially criminal activity, fraud and civil conspiracy between an internationally known athlete and a team of ‘fixers’ that spanned multiple continents “, had submitted. ”
Stovall “searched and relied on the cyber-hacked privileged documents of Cristiano Ronaldo’s attorneys to revive Mayorga’s long-publicized allegations and spoil this case,” the judge said. She added that she dismissed the lawsuit “without enthusiasm” as “sanction for this bad faith attorney.”
Las Vegas police resumed the rape investigation in 2018 after Mayorga’s lawsuit was filed. But the Las Vegas prosecutor-elect ruled in 2019 that too much time had passed and evidence did not show Mayorga’s allegation could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury.
Dorsey’s verdict on Tuesday was remarkable for the size of the fine she received — just $40,000 less than the amount Stovall awarded Mayorga in 2010.
The judge denied an additional $276,000 in court fees and expenses that Ronaldo’s attorneys were seeking, but found their bills — $850 an hour for Christiansen, $500 an hour for Works and $350 an hour for others – “reasonable” in the Las Vegas legal market.
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