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Dykstra's past cited as suit vs. Darling dismissed

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Published in Baseball
Monday, 01 June 2020 12:48

A judge has dismissed Lenny Dykstra's defamation and libel lawsuit against Ron Darling, ruling that the former New York Mets outfielder's "reputation for unsportsmanlike conduct and bigotry is already so tarnished that it cannot be further injured."

New York Supreme Court Judge Robert D. Kalish dismissed Dykstra's lawsuit Friday. Dykstra had sued Darling, his former Mets teammate, for claims Darling made about Dykstra in his book "108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters From My Time in the Game," which was published last year. St. Martin's Press LLC, Macmillan Publishing Group LLC and Daniel Paisner had also been listed as a defendants.

In the book, Darling wrote that Dykstra shouted racial taunts at Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd from the on-deck circle before Game 3 of the 1986 World Series.

Dykstra, 57, was seeking monetary damages, compensatory damages -- "including emotional distress damages for loss of opportunities, for the severe mental anguish, loss of reputation and humiliation, caused by Defendants' unlawful and malicious conduct" -- and punitive damages, plus court costs.

Darling, 59, had filed motions to dismiss Dykstra's lawsuit under the libel-proof plaintiff doctrine, and Kalish agreed, citing Dykstra's past legal troubles and claims he made in his autobiography, "House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge," as reasons to dismiss the suit.

"Based on the papers submitted on this motion, prior to the publication of the book, Dykstra was infamous for being, among other things, racist, misogynist, and anti-gay, as well as a sexual predator, a drug-abuser, a thief, and an embezzler. Further, Dykstra had a reputation -- largely due to his autobiography -- of being willing to do anything to benefit himself and his team, including using steroids and blackmailing umpires," Kalish wrote.

Kalish wrote that his court -- the New York Supreme Court is a trial court, not an appellate court -- "sees no legal basis for why it should use its very limited time and resources litigating whether Dykstra engaged in yet another example of bigoted behavior over thirty-years ago in a court of law.

"There are sports commentators, bloggers and legions of baseball fans to litigate this issue in a public space. This Court, however, has cases involving lost livelihoods, damaged and lost lives, as well as plaintiffs that have suffered very real reputational injuries. Accordingly, Darling and Publisher Defendants' motions to dismiss the first cause of action for defamation, pursuant to the libel-proof plaintiff doctrine, are granted."

St. Martin's said in a statement it "is obviously very pleased with the judge's decision.'' Dykstra declined comment.

Dykstra was sentenced to three years in a California state prison in March 2012 by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Ulfig after pleading no contest to grand theft auto and providing a false financial statement.

He was sentenced to 6½ months in prison that December by U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets and money laundering. The sentences were to be served concurrently.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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