Major League Baseball umpire Joe West has filed a lawsuit against ex-player Paul Lo Duca, alleging that Lo Duca defamed West by falsely accusing him of bribery.
In one of his podcasts this past April, Lo Duca claimed that a teammate told him that West engaged in bribery. That teammate, Billy Wagner, allegedly told Lo Duca at a 2006 or 2007 New York Mets v. Philadelphia Phillies game that he lent West his 1957 Chevrolet in exchange for opening up the strike zone for him. This meant that Wagner would receive more favorable calls from West. In addition, Lo Duca also allegedly said that West ejected him from MLB games “eight or nine” times.
West’s lawsuit alleges that Lo Duca’s statement is entirely false and defamatory. West says that he was never lent a car by Wagner, nor has he ever “opened up the strike zone” for Wagner for any favor. Further, West stated that he was only the umpire for one Mets v. Phillies game between the 2006 and 2007 seasons, and Wagner did not pitch that game. In addition, West said that he ejected Lo Duca only once.
West named Lo Duca, as well as The Action Network Inc., as defendants, as they produced the podcast in question. The lawsuit says that the defendants either knew the claims were false when making them or that they acted with reckless disregard for the truth. Since other media organizations picked up on this story, West states that his reputation was damaged by Lo Duca’s defamatory and disparaging comments. The complaint says that, “[t]hese statements impugn the integrity, honesty and professional fitness of Mr. West and affect his profession as a Major League Baseball umpire.” West is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.