Trevor Bauer’s quest for payback against certain people and publications suffered a couple of setbacks in court Wednesday when a federal judge ruled in favor of two people Bauer has sued and accused of damaging him financially.
One of those defendants was the woman from San Diego who accused the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher of choking and hitting her last year during two sexual encounters at his home in Pasadena.
The other defendant was the woman’s former attorney, Fred Thiagarajah.
U.S. District Judge James V. Selna granted a motion by Thiagarajah to have Bauer’s defamation claim against him dismissed, stating that Bauer did not meet his burden in showing a probability of success on the merits of that claim against him.
Thiagarajah is “entitled to recover reasonable attorneys fees and costs, and shall submit an application within seven days,” the judge’s ruling stated.
In another ruling, the same judge also denied Bauer’s attempt to have the San Diego woman’s countersuit against him dismissed. After Bauer sued her for defamation in April, the woman countersued him in August, restating her claims that he went too far in their encounters without her consent.
Both rulings Wednesday hurt the cause of Bauer, who has not played since the woman went public with her allegations in June 2021. But his larger battle trudges on: His lawsuit against the woman is still active, along with two other lawsuits against two sports websites and two journalists. He is seeking damages from them after accusing them of defamation and blaming them for much of the trouble he’s facing as he tries to resume his baseball career.
In Thiagarajah’s case, Bauer’s attorneys took issue with a comment he made to The Washington Post in February after the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges against Bauer for what happened between him and the San Diego woman in April and May 2021.
Thiagarajah told the Post there was “no doubt that Mr. Bauer just brutalized” his client last year. Bauer’s attorneys say this was false and defamatory.
Thiagarajah’s attorneys say he was merely giving a “fair and true report” of a court hearing involving Bauer and the woman last year, which is protected by law. A state family court judge in that hearing ruled against the woman’s request for a permanent restraining order against Bauer but also noted the photos of the woman’s injuries were “terrible.” The woman went to the hospital after her second encounter with Bauer, where she was diagnosed with an acute head injury and assault by strangulation. Bauer’s legal team says those photos were “doctored.”
The judge’s ruling Wednesday cited Thiagarajah’s First Amendment right to free speech.
“The Court has analyzed this issue in the context of Bauer’s prima facie defamation claim and found that Thiagarajah’s comments were substantially true and communicated the gist of the state court proceedings,” said Selna’s ruling from federal court in the Central District of California. “For this reason, the Court similarly finds that Thiagarajah’s statements are protected by the Fair Reporting Privilege.”
Bauer was placed on paid administrative leave after the woman came forward in June 2021 with her request for a temporary restraining order against him. Major League Baseball investigated her claims and others and then suspended him for two seasons in April. He has denied wrongdoing and has appealed that suspension after stating his relationship with the woman involved consensual rough sex.
Bauer’s attorneys asked the court to have her countersuit dismissed, arguing that she should not be allowed to relitigate what was hashed out in family court last year at the hearing over the restraining order. But Judge Selna noted the judge in the restraining order hearing didn’t exactly make a determination on whether the woman was battered by him as she claims in her countersuit.
The state judge in last year’s hearing instead “had the discretion to deny the woman’s petition for a restraining order based on a finding that her safety would not be jeopardized,” Selna’s ruling said. “Accordingly, the Court finds that the state court proceedings did not necessarily decide that Bauer did not batter or sexually assault (the woman) … For the foregoing reasons, the Court denies Bauer’s motion to dismiss (the woman’s) counterclaims against him.”
The San Diego woman’s countersuit against Bauer therefore can proceed to trial. A February 2024 trial date has been set in his lawsuit against her.
The judge’s ruling to dismiss Thiagarajah from one of the lawsuits now means Bauer has defamation lawsuits pending against five people or publications instead of six.
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: email@example.com