By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Hardball:First, one of their players threw a folding chair that hit Craig Bueno's wife in the face and broke her nose at an Oakland A's game two years ago. Now the Texas Rangers are throwing mud at A's fan and heckler extraordinaire Bueno in a San Francisco Bay Area court. "They're trying to blackmail our client," says Gary Gwilliam, the Buenos' attorney.
Last month the Rangers' attorneys started playing hardball in Jennie Bueno's personal injury lawsuit against the team and three relief pitchers: They sent subpoenas to the city of Hayward, a town near Oakland that employs Craig Bueno as a fire battalion chief, demanding his disciplinary records at work. They also subpoenaed Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko to give a deposition on a reported sexual assault at Shasta Lake in 2003 that resulted in no arrests. Gwilliam says that the Shasta Lake "incident" was nothing, a hoax started by an anonymous e-mail sent to Hayward City Council members and all the fire departments.
It also recently came out in court that a private eye employed by the Rangers was asking Bueno's co-workers about a rumored photo showing Bueno with a woman in a "compromising position," as one firefighter put it. Gwilliam says the photo has never surfaced. "They're simply trying to harass Craig and Jennie...and I think they're trying to get them to settle the case," Gwilliam says.
Attorneys for the Rangers deny they are trying to smear Bueno. A Rangers lawyer said he wanted to show that there are "other" factors in Jennie Bueno's life that are responsible for the emotional distress she's claimed to have experienced since the chair-throwing melee. (Read: Like being married to a loudmouth jerk.) The team's lawyers also say they want to expose Bueno as a man prone to confrontational and even violent behavior.
Such heavy-handed tactics suggest a lot of money on the line, right? Indeed, Gwilliam says that if Bueno is awarded punitive damages, she could easily win a payout in the "high seven figures."
Last week, an Alameda County Superior Court judge refused to allow the fishing expedition into Bueno's private life, and he also ordered Rangers owner Tom Hicks and former general manager John Hart to give a sworn deposition before December 4.
Hmmm, just imagine if the Rangers fought as hard on the field as they fight in the courtroom.
A longer version of this story is on theDallas Observer's blog, Unfair Park, and in our sister paper,East Bay Express.
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