she paid no attention to pre-nup
MONTREAL — Champion boxer Arturo Gatti was training for a match and got pummeled in a fight and knocked out of the ring around the time he began dating Amanda Rodrigues, yet she says she had no idea what he did for a living.
Amanda Rodrigues, the wife of late boxer Arturo Gatti in a file photo
The two sides are in a showdown over who should inherit the boxer’s $3.4 million, left when he was found dead in Rodrigues’s native Brazil in July 2009.
Rodrigues said she was getting her nails done in August 2007 when Gatti called and said, ‘Baby, I’m tired of hearing people’s bull—-, saying you won’t sign this (pre-nuptial) before we get married, so will you sign?’
“I said, ‘Of course,’” Rodrigues testified. “But even today, I’ve never read the document so I don’t know what it says.”
She said she wanted to have a big wedding in Brazil, but neither of them wanted to wait, so they went to Las Vegas to get married in August 2007, about a year after they’d met while walking their dogs in New Jersey.
A few days after the wedding, Gatti told his bride that the pre-nuptial agreement she signed days earlier was just a test of her love and he wanted to destroy it. She assumed it was.
As Rodrigues spoke, Erika Rivera sat about a metre away staring at her rival. She, too, had a daughter with Gatti, Sofia, who is now five.
Rivera filed a wrongful-death suit in New Jersey alleging Rodrigues “violently bludgeoned and asphyxiated” Gatti. The lawsuit is seeking damages because Gatti was caused “severe conscious pain and suffering, resulting in his death.”
Filed by lawyer Anthony Pope, on Sofia’s behalf, the suit also asks for damages, interest, the cost of the lawsuit, punitive damages and “such other relief as this court deems equitable and just.”
According to the documents filed in court, Sofia has “sustained loss of guidance and companionship as well as (monetary) damages from the death of Arturo Gatti.”
According to a trial lawyer with experience in wrongful death lawsuits, it is uncommon to see one filed when someone is murdered. This, he said, is because the accused usually doesn’t have enough money to make the process worthwhile.
Bernard Gluckstein, partner at Toronto-based Gluckstein and Associates, said civil lawsuits are conducted on a much different balance of proof than criminal cases.
Gluckstein said the evidence necessary to win a wrongful-death lawsuit requires something to have happened “more likely or not.”
He said he often describes the burden of proof as “50 per cent plus a feather.”
This makes it easier for an individual to lose a lawsuit, than be found guilty of murder.
Gluckstein referenced the O.J. Simpson trial as an example of one famous instance of a wrongful-death suit taking place.
“Notwithstanding the fact that O.J. was convicted.”
Wednesday morning, Justice Claudine Roy recommended the two sides reach a settlement before the money is eaten up in lawyers’ fees.
But Rodrigues stated flatly outside the courtroom she wouldn’t negotiate.
Gatti’s mother, Ida, and brother, Fabrizio, contend the welterweight champion was pressured by Rodrigues just weeks before his death to sign a will leaving everything to her.
They claim Gatti signed another will in 2007, leaving his estate to his mother, Fabrizio, and Sofia.
Ida Gatti testified Wednesday that they don’t have a signed copy of that will, and never looked through Gatti’s belongings — contained in sealed boxes at her house — to try to find it.
She said she had no objections to a bailiff going to her house to make a list of items found in the room Gatti occupied after he and Rodrigues separated.
Brazilian police detained Rodrigues for days after her husband’s death, but released her without charge. An autopsy ruled the feisty boxer, known as “Thunder,” hanged himself with a purse strap tied around a banister.
But a private investigation, commissioned by Gatti’s manager Pat Lynch, concluded last week the boxer was strangled.
Rodrigues’s testimony is to continue Thursday.
Montreal Gazette, with files from Rob Hiltz, Postmedia News
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