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Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Judge won't decline lawsuit

By Mike Fish and T.J. Quinn
ESPN.com

MIAMI -- A Miami-Dade County Circuit Court judge on Wednesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit Major League Baseball filed against a South Florida clinic operator and his associates alleged to be part of an ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal.

Judge Ronald Dresnick denied a motion to dismiss the case from Carlos Acevedo, who along with clinic operator Tony Bosch and five others were named in a March civil suit filed by MLB to get information about the PED scandal that involves more than 20 players.

The lawsuit has been a powerful leverage tool for MLB as it tries to coerce cooperation from anyone who can aid its investigation into players' drug use. While some legal experts have questioned whether MLB could win in court, the lawsuit has forced defendants into a potentially costly legal battle to find out.

Attorney Martin Beguiristain said last week that MLB has been bullying Acevedo for information on players, and he argued in court Wednesday that the lawsuit should be dismissed primarily because it violated the statute of limitations.

Bosch and Acevedo have known each other for years and worked together at Biokem, located in the same Coral Gables office that eventually housed Bosch's Biogenesis of America clinic, which is at the center of the scandal. The judge denied the dismissal motion after MLB attorney Adriana Riviere-Badell said Acevedo had worked with Bosch and players from 2009 to 2012 -- a time frame well within the statute of limitations.

Riviere-Badell declined to comment after the 15-minute hearing in Miami.

In recent weeks, Bosch's attorneys hammered out a deal with MLB that sought assurance that officials would help mitigate his criminal exposure in return for his cooperation. Officials promised to do what they could although they have no power to stop a federal criminal investigation. In addition, sources said Major League Baseball promised to drop the lawsuit it filed against Bosch, indemnify him for any liability arising from his cooperation and provide personal security for him.

Beguiristain said last week he had spoken with MLB officials, but they never have met with Acevedo, 34. Nor have they presented an offer similar to what Bosch received for his cooperation. After MLB filed its lawsuit against Bosch, it added his brother as a defendant.

Sources familiar with the investigation say Bosch has provided MLB with phone records, texts and emails he exchanged with players that are believed to establish extensive relationships. Bosch's character will be an obvious target for attack, but sources have said MLB is building its case on a combination of the Biogenesis documents they acquired more than a month ago, testimony from Bosch and other associates, the materials Bosch has provided, and the cooperation of minor league players trying to reduce their suspensions.

Sources told "Outside the Lines" that several former Bosch associates have indicated a willingness to appear as witnesses if a player challenges a suspension through arbitration.

MLB also won't have to wait for players to exhaust due process before announcing suspensions, according to baseball's drug agreement. In most cases, when a player fails a test for PEDs, the suspension is only announced when a player accepts the punishment or his appeal is denied in arbitration, meaning it can be months between the failed test and any public announcement. But in cases in which the players' alleged involvement has already been made public, MLB is allowed to announce the suspensions immediately, before the player decides whether he will appeal.

The scandal has absorbed some of baseball's biggest names, including the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun, the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, the Toronto Blue Jays' Melky Cabrera and the Oakland Athletics' Bartolo Colon.

Players in recent weeks have begun aligning themselves with attorneys. The biggest name, Rodriguez, is represented by David Cornwell of Gordon & Rees in Atlanta, who also is representing the Yankees' Francisco Cervelli and San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal. Cornwell declined comment on Wednesday, but ESPN's Darren Rovell reported last week that Cornwell has been working with Rodriguez for about a month.

"Outside the Lines" in February reported that Biogenesis documents listed the names of Braun, Rodriguez, Cervelli and Cabrera. A source said the list was of players who received PEDs, and that there was "no other reason to be on that paper."

Cervelli told reporters he had consulted with Bosch after a foot injury but received no illegal substances. He said visiting Bosch was "a mistake." Rodriguez and Braun have also denied taking PEDs. Cabrera was suspended last year for a positive test, and Grandal and Colon have also served suspensions.